The FBI’s recent announcement that it would recommend ‘no charges’ for Hillary Clinton over the use of her private email server sparked a firestorm. The reason for the uproar has to do with how we got to this point. The investigation has been ongoing for months, and during that time, Clinton’s story has been slowly discredited. Even in this apparently exonerating announcement, FBI Director James Comey, revealed that the narrative her campaign had been touting for over a year—that no classified emails were transmitted over the server except some that were classified retroactively—was false. He also characterized her behavior as “extremely careless.” Previously the State Department had released its own findings that the former Secretary had violated federal rules by deleting emails.
As if that weren’t bad enough, adding fuel to the fire, top Clinton aides have repeatedly plead the Fifth, and Huma Abedin revealed that the former Secretary would burn some of her schedules. Her aides had to plead the Fifth multiple times during their interrogations by the Bureau. But perhaps the most controversial aspect of what can only be described as a damning exoneration is the appearance of insider politics.
Not only has President Barack Obama been campaigning for Clinton after an unprecedented endorsement by a President of the United States for a successor, but her husband, former President Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in private, for an ‘unrelated’ talk about children on the tarmac at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. Further muddying the waters, as Maureen Dowd of The New York Times reported, there’s been talk that “Hillary might let Lynch stay on in a new Clinton administration.” The obvious conflicts of interest now threaten to undermine public trust in the process and our system. At this point, there is no chance this scandal will disappear.
Hillary Clinton is not even officially the nominee and controversy surrounds her. As the Democrats head towards what could be a contested convention because neither candidate has enough pledged delegates to win without the support of the superdelegates, there is much to consider.
The Democratic Party has already sacrificed the trust of the progressive left in order to push a Clinton nomination. From the debate schedule and the revelations from the Guccifer 2.0 leak to the ‘Bernie Bro’ narrative, there is now a deep rift between Democrats. Any chance at reunifying has been lost now that the establishment wing turned against the Occupy wing—and that’s all thanks to Clinton and her allies.
The question raised by the new revelations about Clinton’s emails is just how big a risk are Democrats willing to take when the American people are so desperate that Donald Trump became a major party (presumptive) nominee for President of the United States?
Hillary Clinton is a polarizing figure. Both progressive left as well as the conservative right are against her—though for opposite reasons. In fact, most Americans associate her name with the words ‘dishonest’ and ‘liar.’ They trust Trump more than her on the economy. In spite of the fact that her campaign is, as Robert Reich pointed out, running like “clockwork,” blanketing swing states with ads while Trump’s campaign falters, Clinton is losing ground or stagnating dangerously within the range of the margin of error. As I pointed out in a previous piece, her RealClearPolitics polling average against Trump puts her “an uncomfortable six points ahead;
It does seem that the more people know about Hillary Clinton, the less they like her. The recent announcement about her emails, though perhaps a source of relief for Clinton personally, will likely reinforce the mistrust.
It is telling how much it took for Clinton to even get to this point where she is the presumptive nominee. She had to divide the Democratic Party by triangulating against the left, illegally coordinate with super PACs which set out to stifle grassroots online activity, and spread propaganda. The DNC had to “muddy the waters” of the debate surrounding campaign finance issues, and the Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who served as Clinton’s co-campaign chair in 2008, had to schedule the debates to minimize coverage and scrutiny. The media had to tout the narrative of her inevitability, and the party leadership had to line up behind her. Additionally, there were voting irregularities. But perhaps what helped Clinton most was the complacency of the older Democratic “liberal” base.
Even if Clinton does win in November it will only be because Trump is her opponent. In fact, the Democratic leadership appears to be banking on the idea that Trump will unite the party. But this position is very dangerous because Hillary Clinton will likely only get one term.
Beyond the historical trend—the last two consecutive two-term presidents from the same party were James Madison and James Monroe—Hillary Clinton will likely accomplish nothing major in her first four years of office because the GOP will not cooperate with her. Already, in light of the FBI’s email announcement, the House has called key figures to testify before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, including FBI Director James Comey.
Control of the Senate may flip, but the Republicans will maintain control of the House due to the gerrymandered districts, meaning they can still prevent action. Coupled with that reality, Clinton has only promised half-measures like a $12 minimum wage, so even if she were to get something done, the political and economic inequality which gave rise to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders would still exist after one term—largely unaffected.
The reason this will cost Clinton reelection is because she is not trusted enough for people to accept incrementalism for four years. She is the embodiment of establishment, business-as-usual politics at a time when there is a demand for radical solutions—which is why Senator Sanders outperforms her against Trump. At a certain point, people get tired of hearing that progress is slow, but still happening—especially if they can’t feel it.
In spite of the “Obama recovery,” 95 percent of new income gains have gone to the top one percent. The American people want real change they can feel in their pocket books. As I wrote in a previous article, “[p]olls show that most Americans do not feel represented by either of the two major political parties, and consistently feel that their side is losing.”
Further complicating Clinton’s hopes for two terms, her voters tend to be older and more conservative—a shrinking base.
Although 2016 is an important year given the vacancies on the Supreme Court, it is the down-ballot race in 2020 (a Census year) that will determine the makeup of Congress, and the ability of the left to accomplish its goals for the next decade.
That’s why the concerns about Clinton go far beyond 2016, and the singular achievement that would be putting the first female president in the White House after giving America its first black president. If the Democratic Party does not deliver on the promise of real change it has been making since Obama’s 2008 campaign, it will lose the goodwill and faith of the new electorate—and there is no telling who the next right wing presidential nominee will be, or who the American people will turn to in that event.
The big question is how much will Democratic Party leaders risk to make history when there is a more popular general election candidate still in the race? If the FBI’s damning announcement proves anything, it’s that Hillary Clinton’s judgment is a liability.