The hypothetical match-up between Hillary and the Donald is starting to look... interesting

In an earlier article of mine, I made the prediction that the 2016 election was likely to be a match-up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I also made the prediction that if those two candidates were pitted against each other then it would be likely that Hillary Clinton would become the next president of the United States.

Assuming that the race is actually between Clinton and Trump now, what can we predict it will look like? Put differently, how will the election between these two candidates proceed in terms of the arguments, platforms, and personalities involved?

One of Sander’s main struggles over the course of this election has been obtaining widespread support from African American voters who have gravitated toward the Clinton campaign. White voters on the other hand seem split down the middle between the two Democratic candidates.

It is likely that Clinton will do well with minority voters as she has in the past. What this means is that Clinton is likely to muster a greater volume of support from the electorate when it is evaluated in terms of gaining support from minority demographics.

Trump, on the other hand, has done well to distance many minority voters. He has, however, succeeded in obtaining the unwavering attention of the members of basically one specific section of the electorate: married, white, Republican females.

What will this mean for Trump in the general election with respect to the female vote? Will he be able to sway female Democrats? Will he be more convincing to female Democrats than Clinton and, separately, will Clinton be able to gain significant support from female Republicans?  What variables like this will be most significant in evaluating a match-up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

It is unlikely that disappointed supporters of Bernie Sanders will throw their support behind Donald Trump. If it is the case that these voters are unable to vote for Clinton for the reason that Sanders is not the Democratic candidate then it seems unlikely that they will venture to support Trump.

Clinton also likely has a broader appeal to the American public because of her past experience in politics. She unlike Trump has been a figure in American politics for decades. What both of them share is public recognition on a large scale which pre-exists this election and which stretches back through several presidential administrations.

Clinton is one of the few female candidates in American history to have had a real chance at the White House and it will certainly be made a point in a race between her and Donald Trump that the time has come for there to be a female president of the United States.

This by itself it not necessarily a reason to vote for Clinton, however it will become incredibly significant in  a contest between Trump and Clinton specifically because of the kinds of remarks that Donald Trump has chosen to make about women and issues which primarily affect women.

What progressive voters are essentially looking at is a contest between a well-spoken, experienced, establishment Democrat who also happens to be female and a relative newcomer who happens to make inflammatory statements about females when he is given the opportunity to speak. When she and Trump are placed on a debate stage together I think that it will be probable that this difference will become painfully apparent and that it will serve to unite many progressive Democrats behind Clinton. Clinton, however, also thoroughly exists as a part of the establishment machine and has for years.

In a contest between the two, progressives are likely to flock to Clinton as there is literally no other politically correct alternative.  This is not to say that Trump is not, by himself a politically correct candidate, it is simply to make the point that he has proceeded with his campaign in such a way as to define it as a movement which does not submit to the generalizing authority of political correctness.

The only obstacle to this will be progressive distaste for Clinton’s voting record which by today’s standards of political correctness has fallen short in the past. What seems likely is that Donald Trump will receive very little progressive support because of his lack of adherence to the standards of political correctness.

The only problem that progressives must be aware of is the arising of an election scenario wherein the Democratic party is split between disenfranchised supporters of Bernie Sanders and supporters of Hillary Clinton. In this situation support for the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, would be diluted by the removal or lack of support from progressive Democrats.

Can it be said that it is likely that the Republican party will unite behind  Donald Trump if he becomes the candidate? I think that it is highly likely that this will be the case. It has been a mainstay assertion of Republican and conservative propaganda over the duration of the Obama administration that liberal principles have been more harmful than beneficial to this country and that in order to repair the damage done the United States will have to remain under the guidance of a conservative administration for some time.

Donald Trump possesses no experience in public administration. On the other side of things, Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State for the Obama administration. She has experience in international diplomacy which Trump does not possess.

This could be part of the reason why Trump seems willing to speak his mind. In other words he has a relatively clean slate politically speaking and has taken advantage of this, promising to bring a refreshing change of pace to Washington. He unlike Clinton can present himself as a candidate who is not under the control of the political establishment.

It is likely that many voters, especially Republican voters, see Trump as the most honest candidate in the race specifically because of this fact. The only problem that Trump might encounter in the general election would be a conflict between his tendency to speak with impunity and the hair-trigger sensitivities of many liberal progressive voters

In a hypothetical match-up between Trump and Clinton it is likely that Trump will do his best to paint Clinton as a hypocrite with no real drive toward consistency with respect to her voting record. This is the same effort currently being made by the Sanders campaign and it only seems appropriate that the Trump campaign will use the same attacks as his Democratic opponent.

In an election battle between these two, Hillary will be made into the turncoat candidate. Trump will be made to look inexperienced, intolerant, offensive, and uninformed by the Clinton campaign. If this is how the mudslinging manifests itself, because it always does, which candidate will be throwing the most devastating mud?

I think that it is probable that the Clinton campaign will have a more effective arsenal of criticism to direct at Trump than the other way around. Charges of hypocrisy only go so far and the campaign directing these criticisms will be made to look childish by a far more savvy candidate.

This is not to say that Donald Trump isn’t a savvy candidate. In fact the way that he has approached this election has served him well, at the very least in his creation of an ‘honest’ image. The only problem for Trump, which I already stated will be the sensitivities of minority and progressive voters who perceive diplomatic professionalism and sterilized rhetoric to be more honest.

The United States will survive eight years of a Trump presidency, there are few reasons that lead me to believe that it will not. Propaganda like that which was flung back and forth during both of the last two presidential elections thrived on the creation of this type of apocalyptic prediction.

It was only a few years ago that Mitt Romney was making comments which suggested that the United States, as voters knew it, would not last through another term with Barack Obama as president. The same was true of the propaganda issued by the Obama campaign, specifically that Mitt Romney would ruin this country from the opposite end by tearing to shreds all that his administration had worked for.

One would think that over time the American people would become desensitized to this, but it seems that instead, the memory of the public only goes back so far, in this case hazily and just over into the last election cycle.

Progressives must consider the possibility of a Trump presidency if they decide that they are not going to support Hillary Clinton. The Democratic vote may be disrupted in its unity by this internal conflict.

This conflict has been caused by the essential nature of the debate between Clinton and Sanders. The Sanders campaign has made it a point to portray Hillary Clinton as an out-of-touch, unprincipled establishment hack.

If Democrats want to see another Democratic administration in the White House then they will want to evaluate their voting priorities with respect to Hillary Clinton and her platform. Unity among Democrats in this election, assuming that Clinton is actually the candidate, will make a Clinton victory far easier. Division among the Democratic electorate may only serve to strengthen the Republican position.

So, once again, a situation has been thrust on progressives wherein they have two sets of principled evaluations to make. The first and most important is an evaluation of their own political principles and the corresponding decision to vote for the candidate which best represents them. The second pertains to whether or not they will allow themselves to support a Democratic campaign which dissatisfies them in some ways in order to help ensure that a far more dissatisfying Republican campaign is not allowed to enter the White House.

This is a type of moral crisis was heavily present during the last election. Many Republicans simply united behind Mitt Romney with the unifying goal of removing the Obama administration from power. This end was determined to be the most important, independently of personal political preferences.

This trend was most represented by those voters who were dedicated supporters of Ron Paul, who could easily be compared to Bernie Sanders even though the two candidates exist at opposite ends of the political spectrum, who decided to throw their support behind Mitt Romney specifically because they had decided that he was a lesser evil.

Some voters, especially principled progressive Democrats will find making this kind of calculation extremely difficult. The only statement that I will make will be a suggestion that this calculation might end up being valuable. First and foremost it will be important for progressives to remain steadfast with respect to their political principles, independent of calls for conformity.


  1. The last two times that we out-of-date “liberals” and you up-to-date progressives talked about such a calculation the highlighted names were Eugene McCarthy (who did not get the nomination) and George McGovern (who did). What we got in return for our “calculations” was Richard Nixon—twice. The Democratic Party was so decimated that it set the stage for Ronald Reagan and an ensuing 35 years of an economy rigged to establish wealth/capital/income/opportunity inequality such as has not been seen since the Gilded Age.

    And then, of course, there was Susan Sarandon’s BFF, Ralph Nader. That “calculation” gave us John Roberts and Samuel Alito, Iraq and an economic disaster such as had not been seen since the Great Depression.

    I am an out-of-date “liberal.” It takes me about five seconds to make the “calculation.” Be it Hillary or Bernie, I want a Democrat in the White House and I want to support that candidate strongly enough that it creates even more support on the down-ballot. That’s my overriding “principle.” And, since it only took five seconds to move from principle to calculation to decision, I’ve got all afternoon to go kayaking.

    BTW, Sherrod Brown, though an out-of-date “liberal,” would make a quite fine VP candidate. As would, of course, several others.

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