Almost a year after the candidates first announced their intentions, who'd have thought this is where we'd be
The primary season is well on its way to concluding. As our picture of the 2016 election slowly forms it appears that the race will end up being between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, although things are not yet entirely set in stone. The problem facing many progressives is whether or not they will be able to place their support behind Hillary Clinton as it seems rather unlikely that Donald Trump will experience widespread progressive support from the left.
On the Democratic side of the race Hillary Clinton, including superdelegates, leads Bernie Sanders 1,681 delegates to 937. In order for Sanders to win the Democratic nomination he would have to obtain the votes of at least approximately two-thirds of the remaining delegates. On the Republican side Donald Trump leads the pack with 739 delegates with Ted Cruz trailing at 465.
In a previous article I made the argument that if Donald Trump were to win the Republican nomination it would be akin to a theoretical scenario wherein a great white shark, having been thrown into a tank of pirhanas, would subsequently devour each competing organism, one by one. This seems to have been a relatively accurate estimation of the direction that the Republican side of the race has proceeded to develop.
Donald Trump is not yet the Republican candidate and Ted Cruz remains a relatively viable contender for the nomination. It appears likely, however, that influential Republicans will continue to back Trump. This is specifically because he has become, in the eyes of many conservatives, the most likely contender to effectively compete against Hillary Clinton, however, I am sure that Ted Cruz would fervently disagree with this estimation as he has repeatedly stated the same about himself over the course of the Republican primaries.
Among the recognizable conservatives who have endorsed Trump are former Republican presidential candidates Chris Christie (Gov-NJ), and Ben Carson, Rick Scott (Gov-FL), Jan Brewer (Gov-AZ 2009-2016), Paul LePage (Gov-ME), Sarah Palin, Jeff Sessions (Sen-AL), Kris Kobach, David Duke, Ann Coulter, and Pat Buchanan.
Ted Cruz has also received endorsements from influential Republicans, most notably Nikki Haley (Gov-SC), Phil Bryant (Gov-MS), Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, Carly Fiorina, Louie Gohmert (Rep-TX), Steve King (Rep-IA), Justin Amash (Rep-MI), Mike Lee (Sen-UT), and Bob Smith.
Over the next few months an acceptable prediction would be that Trump will continue to accumulate endorsements from key Republicans. This is primarily because conservatives are beginning to become convinced that Trump has the best chance of going up against Hillary Clinton and winning. I find it relatively unlikely, however, that Trump will defeat Clinton.
Underneath this trend exists a desire on the part of many Republicans, that their party be represented by an individual who is unafraid to speak his mind, independently of the accepted standards of political correctness. This is something that did not characterize the Romney campaign in 2012.
What Mitt Romney failed to do in the last election was to assert his narrative effectively enough to entice a sufficient portion of the left to support his cause. Remember that in the last election Romney was chosen to be the candidate with the best chances of defeating Barack Obama.
With his endorsement of Trump, Chris Christie commented that “Donald Trump is the person on that stage now who is best suited, best prepared to make America the kind of leader around the world it needs to be again,”
I find it fascinating that the Republican candidates practically decided early on that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic contender. It could be argued that in this way the Republican primary process acted to influence the thinking of Democrats who, while watching the Republican debates, were confronted with only one possible scenario for an election.
Jerry Fallwell Jr., who has endorsed Donald Trump, has compared him to both Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King Jr. Recently Falwell stated that:
“God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer […] You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. We’re not voting for pastor-in-chief. It means sometimes we have to choose a person who has the qualities to lead and who can protect our country and bring us back to economic vitality, and it might not be the person we call when we need somebody to give us spiritual counsel.”
Donald Trump is certainly not Jesus Christ. The way that he speaks and many of the things that come out of his mouth do not lend themselves well to his being the messiah. With respect to hearing of Falwell’s comparison between Trump and Martin Luther King Jr., it is likely that many progressives like me cannot help but suppress the urge to projectile vomit. I would not, however, necessarily argue that Trump is a racist. Evidence for this is technically lacking.
When Trump speaks about specific groups of human persons outside of his own white American upper class (a group which both he and Hillary Clinton are members of), however, his statements are often dripping with discriminatory and uninformed opinions which make him thoroughly unpalatable to liberal voters.
I would argue that at least one part of Trump’s stance on immigration policy, specifically that he has argued for the building of a wall across the southern border with Mexico which would be bought and paid for by the Mexican government, is not something which Martin Luther King Jr. would even consider, other than in the negative. In other words, does Donald Trump’s platform lend itself well to affirming a liberation theology for undocumented immigrants and workers? The answer is no.
What can safely be said about the differences between Donald Trump and Mitt Romney? In the last election Romney attempted to distinguish himself as the fiscally responsible conservative candidate who would act to restore the American economy and to repair much of the damage done by the harmful liberal policies of the Obama administration which, as he argued, did little to aid in fixing many of the problems which resulted from the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
What Trump has already succeeded in doing, however, is alienating many Republican voters who voted for Mitt Romney in the last election simply because of the way that he has chosen to conduct himself in the public arena. Romney sought to present himself as a diplomatic individual, willing to engage in cooperative efforts with individuals on the opposite side of the political spectrum.
Trump seems willing to regularly make statements which are either needlessly rude and offensive or simply uninformed. In other words, Trump’s method of addressing the issues lends little to the end of fostering diplomacy between groups. Part of Trump’s appeal to Republican voters who feel disenfranchised after eight years of the Democratic Obama administration, however, is his willingness to speak his mind, independently of offense.
Speaking on the same day as his win in South Carolina, Donald Trump made reference to a story alleging that US General John J. Pershing, in carrying out the executions of some fifty captured Muslim terrorists, ordered that the bullets to be used by the firing squad be dipped in the blood of pigs before the proceedings.
It is likely that this story is simply a mythology connected to the historical person of Pershing, even though Donald Trump specifically stated that it is in the history books somewhere. Trump mentioned the narrative in connection to his platform on Islam, which almost never ceases to stimulate my gag reflex. These comments provide a perfect example of why many liberal Democrats will be unable to support Trump in this election.
Back in December Trump issued a statement which called for a “complete and total shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States and made the comment that “Large segments of the Muslim population” are driven by a blind hatred. He also commented that this shutdown would be required to remain in existence until it has become the case that “we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses.”
These comments sparked outrage in the political community, even among those on the right side of the aisle. Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s national security advisor characterized the statements which Trump made as “totally contrary to our values as Americans.”
Rhodes also stated that, from the perspective of the administration, it is evident that the Islamic State “wants to frame this as a war between the United States and Islam. And if we look like we’re applying a religious test to who comes into the country, we’re sending the message that essentially we’re embracing that frame.”
Donald Trump has also not done much to entice female Republican voters. This is yet another part of the political correctness trap that he has fallen into. In fact, it may be likely that there is a greater portion of female Republicans that view Trump negatively than that which favors him.
On MSNBC last week Trump addressed some of these concerns as well as his victories in Michigan and Mississippi “To be victorious, frankly, I had to be very tough […] I had to be very sharp and smart and nasty. And I can see women not necessarily liking the tone, but also I had to get to the finish line … I had to be harsh in order to win. I can see women not liking that. That will change.”
I find it unlikely that this will change, however it certainly could. Donald Trump has proven himself to be capable of cunning political maneuvering and it is for this reason that he may receive widespread support from Republicans in this election if he is pitted against either of the prospective Democratic candidates.
It may actually be more likely that many female Republican voters will go for Hillary Clinton. The fact that this might be the case says something about Trump’s demeanor. His attempts to be direct often do not come out in a way that lends itself well to a tolerant and respectful public image.
What would a race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump look like and more importantly, who would win? Assuming that Donald Trump is the Republican candidate one could certainly predict that his approach to criticism of Clinton’s platform will partially consist of attacks which rest on the basis of her historically shifting stances on divisive issues.
On the other side, it is likely that Clinton, having spent significantly more time working within the establishment, will seek to portray Trump as a hot-headed and inexperienced candidate destined to do more harm than good.
Clinton sits closer on the political spectrum to Trump than Sanders does. She also has the backing of several large investment and venture capital firms, which represent her top five donors, Soros Fund Management ($7,037,800), Euclidean Capital ($3,502,700), Pritzker Group ($2,811,309), Saban Capital Group ($2,531,268), and Paloma Partners ($2,505,400).
Additionally, Clinton has, for years, received backing from other major financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. The sheer volume of funding that she has managed to acquire also puts her in a commanding position with respect to potentially dominating the 2016 election.
It is partially because of the support that Hillary Clinton has received from extremely wealthy individuals that some progressive Democrats are wary of throwing their support behind her. It will become important for progressive liberals to understand, however, that the image of Clinton as an old establishment standby looking to primarily affirm the position of capital with her policies is not entirely appropriate. Bernie Sanders, in contrast, has remained an outspoken critic of the financial sector and of policies which, for decades, have allowed the proliferation and subsistence of inefficient regulatory policies and practices.
Among Sanders’ top donors are several educational institutions including the University of California ($46,777), Columbia University ($16,850), the University of Illinois ($15,300), New York University ($13,600), and the University of Michigan ($12,960). The support that he has received from academia mirrors some of the support which Barack Obama received in the 2012 election.
During that election this fact became a main point of difference between Obama and Clinton and aided the Obama campaign in portraying Clinton as an out-of-touch, establishment candidate subject to the demands of corporate industry and investment capital.
When a comparison is made between the platforms of the two Democrats it is evident that there are places at which they share common ground. Clinton and Sanders also obviously disagree. The points at which they disagree have significantly influenced much of the far-left progressive support which Bernie has received. The fact that Hillary Clinton has changed her position on multiple issues over the course of her political career is also a partial source of this support for Sanders.
With respect to social issues there is an uneven split between the two. Both candidates are currently supporters of marriage equality even though Hillary Clinton ran in 2008 as an opponent of this based on personal moral convictions.
On immigration reform, both supported the DREAM Act as well as ‘sanctuary cities’. Hillary Clinton, however, voted in favor of the construction of a fence across the southern border with Mexico and then changed her position during the 2008 election. She has also supported an increased law-enforcement presence along the border.
With respect to foreign policy there is no doubt that Clinton and Sanders experience friction when brought into a close comparison.Clinton voted in favor of the Iraq War and, as Secretary of State, supported and indirectly aided in the facilitation of the drone warfare which has become associated with the Obama Administration.
In addition Clinton supported the Afghan troop surge in 2009. In contrast, Bernie Sanders has consistently remained an outspoken opponent of warfare and violence and has voted against military action repeatedly. As a Senator, Clinton voted for the Patriot Act after September 11, 2001, and the, then, Representative Sanders voted against it. Clinton also voted in favor or re-authorizing the Patriot Act several years later.
Clinton has also come under fire for what many progressive Democrats have deemed to be her ‘hawkish’ approach to American foreign policy. Recently Clinton spoke in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), reaffirming her support for the state of Israel and making the firm statement that “as president, I will make a firm commitment to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.”
Bernie Sanders has been the favorite candidate of many progressives because of the ways that he and his platform contrast with Hillary Clinton and her own platform. Sanders has presented himself to the country as a candidate devoted to affirming progressive liberal values.
In my opinion, it is likely that Hillary Clinton will defeat Donald Trump if the two are, indeed, pitted against each other in a contest for the White House in 2016. Clinton possesses more resources than Trump and more experience in positions of political power. Clinton also seems capable of putting forth a narrative which minimizes its offensiveness and which better lends itself to
Despite some of the distaste that progressives may harbor toward Hillary Clinton, it will be valuable for them to evaluate their preferences in a presidential contest between her and Donald Trump. In other words, which candidate presents a more acceptable vision of a future America for progressive liberals. The answer is almost certainly Hillary Clinton. For those progressives that will find it impossible to vote for Clinton, my imperative for them is to write-in Bernie Sanders.
Primary Results So Far
Hillary Clinton: Alabama (3/1/16), Arizona (3/22/16), Arkansas (3/1/16), Florida (3/15/16) Georgia (3/1/16), Illinois (3/15/16/0, Iowa (2/1/16), Louisiana (3/5/16), Massachusetts (3/1/16), Mississippi (3/8/16), Missouri (3/15/16), Nevada (2/20/16), North Carolina (3/15/16), Ohio (3/15/16), South Carolina (2/27/16), Tennessee (3/1/16), and Texas (3/1/16).
Bernie Sanders: Colorado (3/1/16), Idaho (3/22/16) Kansas (3/5/16), Maine (3/6/16), Michigan (3/8/16), Minnesota (3/1/16), Nebraska (3/5/16), New Hampshire (2/9/16), Oklahoma (3/1/16), Utah (3/22/16) and Vermont (3/1/16).
Donald Trump: Alabama (3/1/16), Arkansas (3/1/16), Florida (3/15/16), Georgia (3/1/16), Hawaii (3/8/16), Illinois (3/15/16), Kentucky (3/5/16), Massachusetts (3/1/16), Michigan (3/8/16), Mississippi (3/8/16), Nevada (2/23/16), New Hampshire (2/9/16), North Carolina (3/15/16), South Carolina (2/20/16), Tennessee (3/1/16), Vermont (3/1/16), and Virginia (3/1/16).
Ted Cruz: Alaska (3/1/16), Idaho (3/8/16), Iowa (2/1/16), Kansas (3/5/16), Maine (3/5/16), Oklahoma (3/1/16), Texas (3/1/16), Utah (3/22/16), and Wyoming (3/12/16).