Donald Trump's possible victory in the upcoming presidential elections has become a nightmare for many. Some people believe that he is leading a proto-fascist movement. Neocon stalwart Robert Kagan believes that Trump has opened up the possibility of fascism in the United States. Over at The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik warns us about the dire consequences of accepting Trump. As a political activist from Iran who lives in exile in the United States and whose region is deeply affected by the United States policy toward the Middle East and my native land, I too am terrified by the possibility that Trump might be elected President and take this country into an endless abyss, and have expressed my sentiments and thoughts in three previous pieces, here, here, and here. But, what people have discussed much less is that Hillary Clinton may actually contribute to a Trump victory. How? This article addresses this question.
The Likelihood of Trump Getting Elected
Unfortunately, when Trump announced his candidacy, most people did not take him seriously, and did not believe he could win the GOP nomination. The next mistake was the claim by Democrats that Mrs. Clinton will easily defeat Trump. Both have, of course, proven to be utterly wrong.
There is of course no denying of the fact that many months ago Mrs. Clinton was far ahead of Trump in every credible national poll. But, the situation has completely changed. A poll by NBC/SurveyMonkey on May 17 indicated that Mrs. Clinton is ahead of Trump by only 3 percent, while a Washington Post/ABC News poll on May 22 showed that Trump is actually ahead of her by 2 percent. Of course, the polls at this time are volatile and have ups and downs for both candidates. But, they do indicate that Trump can actually win. Why is that?
Choice between Bad and Worse
A large majority of the American people do not hold positive views of both candidates. A New York Times/CBS News poll indicated that, (a) 55 and 52 percent of the people do not have favorable views of Trump and Mrs. Clinton, respectively; (b) 66 and 60 percent of voters do not believe that Trump and Mrs. Clinton share their values; (c) only 44 percent of the respondents believe that both candidates have strong leadership qualities, and (d) 64 and 60 percent of the people do not believe, respectively, thatMrs. Clinton and Trump are trustworthy.
The Washington Post/ABC News poll indicated that 60 and 53 percent of the voters do not hold favorable view of Trump and Mrs. Clinton, respectively, while the NBC News poll showed that 53 and 60 percent of the respondents either hold an favorable view of the two candidates or despise them.
It is therefore clear that the choice is one of bad or worse. Even Noam Chomsky, a greater thinker of our era, believes that people should hold their nose and vote for Mrs. Clinton.
Hillary Clinton as the Embodiment of Failed Policies of the Past
U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, as well as its support for Saudi Arabia's aggression against the people of Yemen, have failed. The majority of the people are also opposed to U.S. military intervention around the world. As Stephen Walt of Harvard University, a foreign policy realist puts it, while the foreign policy establishment supports Mrs. Clinton, the support actually may not be bad for Trump. Mrs. Clinton and her foreign policy team and supporters symbolize the failed policy of military interventions, which can hurt her because people are tired of such interventions.
It should suffice to point out that Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense in both George W. Bush and Obama administrations, has likened the intervention in Libya to the invasion of Iraq that is universally believed to be a mistake, and Mrs. Clinton played a key role in the attacks on Libya. Despite this, Mrs. Clinton still advocates military solutions to the problems in the Middle East. In particular, she suggested in 2010 to give Israel the "green light" to strike Iran, and also said that if the leaders of Iran's Green Movement had asked for help, the U.S. would have been prepared to undertake operations similar to what happened in Libya.
Mrs. Clinton is highly experienced, but in the foreign policy arena she has experienced mostly glaring failures when it comes to immense and complex problems that the world is facing. Clearly, Trump will use this against Mrs. Clinton. Thus, while voters view the past negatively and are demanding fundamental changes, Mrs. Clinton has become a symbol of past failures, and does not show any fundamental shifts in her views.
Clinton's Victories in the Primaries
Unlike what most people believe, the U.S. elections are not democratic, in the sense that the election of a person is the direct result of each and every vote of the people. The system of Electoral College and the role of super delegates in the Democratic Party have taken that away from the people.
In the Democratic primaries held so far, Mrs. Clinton has received over 13 million votes, while Senator Bernie Sanders has received over 10 million votes. The two candidates have won 28 and 21 primaries, respectively. Of the 28 primaries won by Mrs. Clinton, at least 11 states (South and North Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Arizona and Kentucky) vote reliably for the GOP in the presidential elections, while Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Virginia are the swing states. Therefore, Mrs. Clinton has won only 10 primaries in states that vote reliably Democratic. This can hurt her in the general elections.
What is the Goal: Beating Trump or Nominating Clinton?
Leaders of Democratic Party must decide whether their goal is defeating Trump in the general elections, or nominating Mrs. Clinton as their candidate. If the former, every poll indicates that Senator Sanders is a far better candidates than Mrs. Clinton, with only about 30 percent of the people holding negative views about him. One would think that a candidate whom people trust is better than one about whom a significant majority hold such negative views.
Mrs. Clinton has also been involved in issues that will definitely be brought up by Trump and used against her, ranging from murders of Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, to her private e-mails while at the State Department, her relations with the Wall Street, and the problems with the Clinton Foundation.
It is based on such problems that Senator Sanders has pointed out that he and his campaign will be far better positioned to defeat Trump. He has urged the unelected delegates to the Democratic Convention to consider these facts.
A More Plausible Way of Defeating Trump
I highly doubt that the leaders of Democratic Party will allow nomination of Senator Sanders as their candidates for the general elections. The Clintons are part of the ruling oligarchy. They are also members of the 1%. If everyone, including Senator Sanders and his supporters, must be terrified by the prospects of a Trump victory, why should Mrs. Clinton and her supporters not be so?
In my view, there is a simple way of unifying the Democratic Party. Mrs. Clinton can ask Senator Sanders to be her running mate. That would increase her chances of victory dramatically. The likelihood of this is, however, low.
Mrs. Clinton can also act like President Obama, and ask Senator Sanders to be her Secretary of State, and concomitantly, to show sympathy with Senator Sanders' programs and gain his supporters' votes, bring into her cabinet Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as her VP, and benefit from economist and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz in her team.
The Democratic establishment has taken the first concrete step toward reconciliation with Senator Sanders by giving him 5 representatives to the Democratic National Committee. In my view, this positive step must be completed by others toward Senator Sanders. If Mrs. Clinton does not show any flexibility toward Senator Sanders and his supporters, as well as her past failed policies and positions, she should be prepared to respond to the critics if defeated by Trump, because in that case she will have demonstrated that her personal ambitions are more important than those of the nation.
This article was translated by Ali. N. Babaei