Now that Hillary Clinton is statistically tied with Donald Trump in the polls according to Real Clear Politics, Democratic Party loyalists are looking for a new scapegoat. Some individuals have decided to attribute blame to millennials. Mother Jones’ Editor-in-Chief, Clara Jeffery, took to Twitter to declare her hatred for millennials after learning that Hillary Clinton loses a substantial amount of millennial voters to third-party candidates.
Echoing this frustration with millennials, James Kirchick of The Daily Beast—an outlet that does not disclose to readers the fact that Chelsea Clinton sits on the board of their parent company, IAC—smugly purports that these pesky millennials would probably be more inclined to support Hillary Clinton if it weren’t for their “moral relativism, historical ignorance, and narcissism.” Some want to hold Jill Stein accountable for a potential Trump victory, while others argue Bernie Sanders will be culpable if Trump wins, given that he “convinced” millennials that “Clinton was in the pocket of Wall Street,” and is “a tool of wealthy elites.”
I, too, would like to jump on this bandwagon and advance my own hypothesis as to which individual we can blame in the event Trump wins. If Clinton loses, really, there’s only one person you can blame: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Many political pundits are absolutely correct in their analyses of Donald Trump. He’s a sleazy, entitled, bigoted, egotistical, morally bankrupted, unintelligent, unhinged, fascistic, conman that lacks any semblance of policy substance whatsoever. Personally, I find it disqualifying that he doesn’t even know the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah, is seemingly hellbent on using nuclear weapons, and openly flaunts his desire to kill Muslim civilians in the Middle East. Let’s not forget he wants to appoint Scalia-esque justices to the United States’ Supreme Court.
The aforementioned reasons are just a few of many that make Trump an unqualified and downright terrifying candidate. Thus, the fact that Donald Trump is such a bad candidate is a huge gift to Hillary Clinton and the aggregate Democratic Party. Almost any imaginable Democratic nominee should be able to defeat Trump with relative ease. Therefore, if Hillary Clinton—in spite of this advantage—is unable to defeat Donald Trump, it’s illogical to lambast millennials, or Jill Stein, or Gary Johnson, or Bernie Sanders for it. The only person you can blame for a Trump victory is Hillary Clinton herself for running a historically bad campaign that is devoid of both strategy and vision.
Putting aside her policy positions (which I’ll get to), why, exactly, is Hillary Clinton even running to be president? What’s her message? One of her most widely cited campaign slogans, besides “Stronger Together” is “I’m With Her.” But since when are we, as voters, expected to be with politicians? Their job is to convince voters that they’re with us. That’s how democracy works. The mere existence of such a slogan only provides further evidence that Hillary Clinton feels entitled to our votes, and that she doesn’t have to earn them. It also speaks to Clinton’s apparent narcissism, oversized ego, and entitlement, all of which are qualities that also makes Trump undesirable. However, these minor gripes pale in comparison with Clinton’s biggest flaws, many of which became evident during the primaries.
It’s not hyperbolic to say that Bernie Sanders’ supporters were robbed during the primaries, and rather than attempting to assuage these feelings of hurt, disenfranchisement, and disillusionment, Hillary Clinton has only helped to exacerbate them. It started with the debate schedule, which was the DNC’s first attempt to hide Clinton’s primary challengers away from the public by scheduling only a few DNC-sanctioned debates and prohibiting candidates from participating in debates not authorized by the DNC.
Seeing that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former DNC Chair responsible for the debate debacle was the co-chair of Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, many rightfully suspected she was biased. One DNC aide confirmed this, telling TIME magazine the limited debate schedule was “an elaborate game where everything was worked out in advance with the Clinton people.” The DNC also arbitrarily, albeit temporarily, banned Sanders’ access to NGP VAN after a campaign staffer, Josh Uretsky, improperly accessed Clinton’s voter files due to a software glitch.
While one can expect Sanders’ campaign to be reprimanded for such behavior (even though Sanders handled the situation properly by immediately firing the staffer), it became apparent that this was a typical ploy used by the DNC to suppress the campaigns of progressive challengers to Democratic incumbents and establishment candidates. Tim Canova, Alex Law, and other progressive candidates were also temporarily denied access to NGP VAN by the DNC.
The DNC also demonized Sanders’ supporters by obfuscating the truth when possible. One example is their false claim that chairs were thrown during the Nevada Democratic Convention. Additionally, while political pundits contended Bernie went “negative” during the primary, Clinton arguably outright slandered Bernie Sanders by suggesting he was racially insensitive and chauvinistic. Let’s not forget that Bill Clinton ironically claimed Sanders’ supporters were sexist. Her campaign surrogates even tried to concoct conspiracy theories about Sanders’ health and demanded the release of his medical records. This level of gutter politics is appalling.
I’m most angered, however, by the DNC, an organization that repeatedly insisted it was neutral during the primaries, all while it covertly attempted to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ campaign in an effort to help Hillary Clinton win. Wikileaks’ release of internal DNC emails revealed their distaste towards Sanders and his supporters, as well as collusion with the media in order to drive anti-Bernie Sanders narratives. The DNC literally violated its own charter (Article 5, Section 4, specifically) to help Hillary Clinton win, an act which may even be tantamount to fraud, as millions of Bernie Sanders’ supporters donated money to a candidate in a process that was inherently unfair, hence why there’s an ongoing class action lawsuit against the DNC.
In short, the DNC was successful at sabotaging Bernie Sanders’ campaign, which communicated a clear message to voters by telling them a true progressive candidate will never be successful in the Democratic Party. The DNC’s effort to undermine Sanders was egregious, but it doesn’t even take into account the fact that voting irregularities (and potential fraud) in multiple states cost Sanders an estimated 184 pledged delegates according to one report, although this is an issue we must disaggregate from the series of DNC scandals.
Clinton is implicated in the numerous DNC scandals as well, and did nothing to distance herself from them. Not only did she fail to address the concerns of Sanders’ supporters—a demographic she’s desperately trying to court now that she’s down in the polls—by refusing to acknowledge the DNC’s bias revealed in the DNC leaks, but she chose to reward and condone the DNC’s bad behavior rather than condemn it. When former DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was forced to resign in disgrace due to her role in deliberately impairing Bernie Sanders’ campaign, Hillary Clinton immediately rewarded her by making her the honorary chair of her campaign. This was a slap in the face to every progressive that spent months canvassing, phone-banking, face-banking, and donating to a candidate that the DNC desperately wanted to destroy.
In another display of hubris, Hillary Clinton decided that she didn’t want to even try to unify the party. Despite dissatisfaction among progressives with Elizabeth Warren’s decision to not endorse Bernie Sanders during the primary, Hillary Clinton could have selected Warren as her running mate. It wouldn’t have completely ameliorated all divisions within the Democratic Party, but at least it would have signaled that she was trying to win over progressives. Instead, she opted for the worst possible choice: Tim Kaine, a Wall Street-backed, pro-TPP, conservative Democrat. This was around the time when Democratic Party loyalists were so confident in Clinton’s ability to defeat Trump they actually contemplated whether or not Clinton even needed Bernie’s supporters to win. These are rookie mistakes that a seasoned politician like Hillary Clinton should never make.
Besides the abysmal way in which Hillary Clinton’s campaign botched outreach to Sanders’ supporters after they were cheated during the primary, she also has issues in the policy department as well. Some of her proposals are admittedly fantastic; namely, her tuition-free college plan. The problem, however, is that few people actually believe Hillary Clinton would fight for this policy. Had she championed this policy at the start of her campaign on her own accord, and not solely as a means of getting Bernie Sanders to drop out and endorse her, one might actually think this was a policy she cared about. But besides her inability to cultivate trust among liberal and progressive voters, she has many problematic policies she still openly supports, and also has done things during her tenure as a public servant that are unacceptable, some of which may even be unforgivable.
For example, Clinton voted for the Iraq war as a U.S. Senator, and doesn’t regret the role she played in turning Libya into a failed state with a strong ISIS presence. She hasn’t learned from these mistakes, nor has she become any less hawkish, as she currently supports a Syrian no-fly zone and intends on responding to cyber attacks from the likes of North Korea, China, and Russia militarily. Such policies could reignite the Cold War, or potentially lead to a new world war (considering she has already publicly accused Russia of hacking the DNC). She’s also courting the endorsements of war criminals such as Henry Kissinger, and is bragging about receiving the endorsement of John Negroponte. Furthermore, she’s aligned with the far-right when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict. As for her superficial bomb-them-to-hell plan to defeat ISIS, how are we suppose to believe she will not commit U.S. ground troops to Syria after she openly called for it in 2015? Not to mention, she entertained the idea of using nuclear weapons against Iran in 2008. In spite of these substantive grievances progressives have with her, Clinton’s detractors are the ones that are often chastised for bringing them up.
As Secretary of State, she “sold fracking to the world” and has been disingenuous about her connection to the oil and gas industry, and also pressured the Haitian government to not raise their minimum wage to $0.61. As a presidential candidate, she’s accepted campaign donations from private prison lobbyists (but ceased doing so after receiving criticism), big banks, for-profit colleges, and refuses to release the transcripts of speeches she has given to Wall Street. We know these donations will inevitably influence her decisions, as the Clinton Foundation granted a “majority” of its donors special access to Hillary Clinton while she served as Secretary of State.
To boot, the Clinton Foundation did not disclose more than 1,000 foreign donations. Hillary Clinton is as entrenched with corporate interests as a candidate can possibly be. Her and Bill have raised billions of dollars combined, and there’s demonstrable evidence that money does, in fact, influence her decisions. For example, she flip-flopped on single-payer healthcare after raking in millions of dollars by giving speeches on behalf of the health insurance industry. This isn’t the only example, as one viral video featuring Elizabeth Warren explains how Clinton changed her position on a bankruptcy bill after receiving campaign contributions from moneyed interests that were against it.
When it comes to social issues, she isn’t great in this department either. Besides the fact that she once referred to black youth as “super predators,” she was one of the last big-name Democrats to come around to marriage equality. In other words, while she celebrated her daughter’s wedding, she believed gay and lesbian couples should be denied the same right her daughter was able to exercise. Like Trump, she was in favor of building a wall on our southern border too. Besides civil rights, she has a lackluster record on civil liberties as well. She’s against legalizing marijuana, played a role in mass incarceration, voted for the Patriot Act, and would prosecute Edward Snowden as president. She also claims to be against the Trans Pacific Partnership in spite of the fact that she lobbied for it 45 different times as Secretary of State. With a record this dismal, how are progressives suppose to believe she’ll actually fight for progressive policies?
These are all problems Democratic Party loyalists refuse to acknowledge. Now, I’m not saying I would only vote for candidates with halos above their heads, but I’m not willing to support this type of candidate, that’s overly conservative, neoliberal, and hawkish. If I vote for Clinton, the Democratic Party will be given the the impression that they’ll have my vote no matter what. That’s not the case. I don’t care how scary the Republican Party’s nominee is, my vote still has to be earned. Not everyone agrees with this stance, though. So-called leftists are willing to defend things that were once indefensible to liberals, such as money in politics and U.S. imperialism. Therefore, as dangerous as Trump may be, I also view Clinton as a dangerous candidate since she’s moving the collective democratic party even further to the right. That’s not to say Trump’s list of negatives is shorter than Clinton’s. Contrarily, there’s probably a lot more to criticize when it comes to Trump. Still, in a democratic republic, votes must be earned. A candidate can’t expect to win by merely being less asinine than their opponent, and Trump’s craziness doesn’t make Hillary Clinton a more desirable candidate by any stretch of the imagination.
As a millennial that’s allegedly a moral relativist, whose ignorant of history, and is narcissistic, I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton specifically because I’m none of those things. In fact, my morality is consistent across political parties and candidates, which is why I won’t always unequivocally support the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee every four years. If you’re a progressive that will be voting for Hillary Clinton in order to defeat Donald Trump, that’s a move I can support and respect. However, I’m not going to be voting that way, and many others, I suspect, also will not. Hillary Clinton is the only person to blame for her inability to garner support among progressive voters, but when you’re as entrenched within the political establishment and American oligarchy as Clinton, it’s probably difficult for her to grasp what progressives are actually looking for in a candidate (or what she could possibly do to win us over at this point).
One more problem with the anti-progressive rhetoric coming from Democratic loyalists, however, is that these right-wing Democrats and supporters of Clinton expect her to coast to the White House without putting in the time and effort necessary to make her successful. You can vote out of fear—it’s a legitimate voting strategy—but you must acknowledge that this argument doesn’t necessarily resonate with everyone. So, rather than wagging your finger at disenfranchised Bernie supporters and third-party voters, if you’re really that afraid of Trump, ask yourself this: what have you done to help Clinton win? Have you donated to her campaign, canvassed for her, or registered any new like-minded voters recently? That’s the more feasible strategy that will be conducive to a Clinton victory. But constantly berating progressives and insisting they fall in line and support a candidate they oppose is not a viable electoral strategy.
But regardless if Trump wins or loses, one thing is certain: the outcome of this election should be evaluated by the performances of both candidates. Strong candidates don’t have to worry about threats from third-parties, so if Clinton fails to mobilize enough new voters to make up for the ones she’s losing to Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, that’s her fault.
If Trump wins, blame Clinton ― not the progressives she’s given the cold shoulder to for the entirety of the election.