As I write, fivethirtyeight gives Hillary Clinton a 64.4% chance of winning the election. This of course means that they assign Donald Trump a better than one-in-three chance of winning.
In the event that happens, prepare yourself for a slew of articles blaming Green Party and Libertarian Party voters for that horrifying outcome.
In its most naked form the argument runs as follows: “If you don’t vote for Clinton you’re voting for Trump.” Neglecting that something akin to transubstantiation would be required for a vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson to magically transform to a vote for Trump, those who make this particular argument ignore the fact that a Trump supporter could make essentially the same assertion: “If you’re not voting for Trump, you’re voting for Hillary.” Thus the achievement of perfect symmetry.
So, neglecting that weak attempt to shift blame, if Clinton loses who really would be responsible? Let’s hit only the high points (more realistically, the low points) here:
Neglecting recent history (we’ll get to it shortly), we need to go all the way back to 1972/1973, the years in which real wages peaked. It’s been downhill from there: wages have declined as productivity has approximately doubled, with almost all of the productivity gains going to the top 1%. Democrats have done exactly nothing about this.
In fact, Democratic policies, particularly trade policies, have made the situation worse. NAFTA is a case in point. Passed under Bill Clinton, with bipartisan support in Congress, NAFTA resulted in heavy losses of manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt and at the same time devastated million of Mexican small farmers by opening up their markets to mass importation of cheap, agri-business-produced corn (which directly led to the “immigration crisis” as landless, income-less farmers streamed north due to NAFTA-induced economic desperation).
(Going back even further, bipartisan tax policies allowed [and still allow] corporations to transfer millions upon millions of American manufacturing jobs overseas, while paying virtually no tax penalties for doing so.)
Then there was Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform,” again passed with bipartisan support, which led to millions upon millions of our poorest citizens being plunged into utter destitution. Combine this with America’s disastrous mass-incarceration policies, and you end up with tens of millions living in utter misery, with little if any hope.
Follow that up with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, once more with bipartisan support, at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and you find the seeds of the Great Recession.
Getting back to Hillary Clinton, consider her cynical vote authorizing the catastrophic 2003 invasion and subsequent war in Iraq, a war which cost approximately 5,000 American lives, perhaps 1,000,000 Iraqi lives, the squandering, at absolute minimum, of at least one trillion U.S. taxpayer dollars, and the creation of ISIS.
Clinton isn’t dumb. Far from it. She had to know that the rationale for the invasion was phony and would at best lead to the loss of thousands of lives. But she voted for it anyway, almost certainly because she calculated that it was to her political advantage to do so.
Flash forward to the Great Recession of 2008, in which the de-regulated banks (free of Glass-Steagall restrictions) gambled massively with depositors’ funds on CDOs (based on the issuance and aggregation of bad mortgages) and lost damn near everything when the housing market collapsed — until the federal government stepped in and saved them (but not us).
At that point, Barack Obama, the “hope and change” candidate was elected. He was elected in a near-landslide, and had big majorities in both houses of Congress. What did he deliver? A stimulus package that was large enough to keep the economy going, but not large enough to help the over 6,000,000 people who lost their jobs nor the approximately 7,000,000 who lost their homes.
He also delivered a grossly inadequate healthcare program–he didn’t even try for anything better–that left tens of millions uninsured and left the insurance companies and big pharma with their fangs sunk in the public’s jugular.
Beyond that, and the grossly inadequate stimulus package, he delivered virtually nothing to the people who had elected him.
Perhaps most maddeningly, Obama’s “Justice” Department, at the same time it was zealously persecuting whistle blowers, didn’t prosecute any of the top-level banksters responsible for what has justly been called “the greatest financial fraud in world history.” (One single mid-level trader was jailed, and that’s it.)
To put it simply, Obama betrayed the hopes of those who elected him, leading to the Republican takeover of Congress and many, many state governments in 2010, and in part to the formation of the Tea Party. (Racism alone doesn’t explain the rise of the Tea Party; you need to add in Obama’s economic betrayal of those who elected him.)
Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during this time, part and parcel of the Obama Administration. During the time she was Secretary, she gave tacit approval to the coup in Honduras in 2009, was a leading cheerleader for/architect of the disastrous intervention in Libya (with no plan as to what would follow Qaddafi’s overthrow), and also went along, with evident enthusiasm, with Obama’s war on whistle blowers. While she was Secretary of State, she displayed terrible judgment.
Which brings up her use of a private e-mail server. The FBI investigation revealed that she did nothing horrible, but it was a prime example of her hubris and poor judgment — if she wasn’t so hubristic, she’d have realized that should word of the server ever become public, the optics would be terrible.
Fast forward to the primary campaign against Bernie Sanders.
Yes, it was rigged. Over 20% of Clinton’s delegates were “super delegates,” unelected party insiders. Donna Brazile, Clinton ally and interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, fed Clinton debate questions prior to her debates with Bernie Sanders. And previous DNC chair and Clinton ally, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, restricted the number of debates between Clinton and Sanders (thus throwing away tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars of free airtime), and scheduled the debates at times that virtually guaranteed minimal viewership. (This allowed Clinton to capitalize on her name-recognition advantage with low-information voters; because of name recognition, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy would have gotten votes simply because low-information voters recognized their names but couldn’t recall what they were famous for.) Add to that the mountains of corporate and big-donor cash that funded the Clinton superpac and campaign, and it’s fair to say that the primary election was rigged.
And all this to nominate a candidate most of the public disliked or despised –going back years — prior to her nomination. All of the empirical evidence, all of the polling, during the primaries showed that Bernie Sanders was running well ahead of all of the potential Republican candidates, while Clinton was neck and neck with them. The polling also showed that over 50% of the public disliked or despised Clinton, and that her unfavorability ratings had been remarkably high for years.
Clinton’s water carriers chose to ignore, and downplay, all of this evidence while making the bizarre assertion, with no evidence to back it, that Sanders would get beat in the general election because the Republicans would red bait him. And this despite Bernie Sanders having loudly proclaimed for decades that he was a socialist, and his proclaiming it at every stop on the campaign trail. All too many Democrats bought the Clintonistas’ line of b.s., and voted to nominate the candidate most likely to lose.
In a time of widespread disgust with the status quote, the corporate Democrats managed to nominate the status quo candidate par excellence. They were betting the bank that the Republicans would nominate someone even more odious than Clinton, and that they could then extort the public into voting for her.
So, if Clinton loses, who’s to blame? Clinton and her fellow corporate, status quo Democrats, or those who refuse to give in to blackmail, who refuse to vote for Clinton simply because her opponent is even more despicable than she is?