Imagining a Hillary Clinton Presidency So Far by Paul Street

Hillary Clinton painted portrait _DDC9374

Image by thierry ehrmann via Flickr

by Paul Street
Writer, Dandelion Salad
The Official Website of Paul Street, September 6, 2017
Previously published at Counterpunch, September 1, 2017
September 8, 2017

The Idiotic Lecture I Keep Getting

A recurrent problem with some who read Left essays on U.S. politics is that a writer of such essays can’t criticize a Republican policymaker or politician without some “radical” reader sending that writer a snotty lecture on the writer’s supposed failure to understand that Barack Obama, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, and rest of the top Democrats are terrible too.

It’s very odd. It doesn’t matter how many times I have quoted the young Upton Sinclair or Eugene Debs on how the two dominant and capitalist U.S. political organizations are (in Sinclair’s words in 1904) “two wings of the same bird of prey.” It’s irrelevant how many times I have used the late Sheldon Wolin’s phrase “inauthentic opposition” to describe the Democrats – or how many times I’ve noted that that both reigning parties are captive to the same “unelected and interrelated dictatorship of money and empire.”

If I dare to criticize Donald Trump, I will get the same absurd online messages telling me that I am an apologist for the party of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and that I need to understand that the Democrats are capitalist and imperialist. “Paul,” one of these clowns – I’ll call him Big Bad Bob – recently wrote me:

“stop buy[ing] into the ‘Big Bad Republicans’ line. It’s a Con Game designed to implant the idea in the minds of the public that there is a genuine difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. They are a team. Need to read that again? THE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS ARE A TEAM! Both of them are paid and working for the Bad Guys, the centers of Capitalist power. Stop cooking up rationalizations of why your candidate is better than the other guy. They are both Capitalists and Imperialists.”

Gee, you don’t say. I had no idea.

Do I really have to attach an end-note listing my publications and speeches about and against Obama, the Clintons, and the Dems (an end-note that would run at least five pages even with a small font) every time I criticize a Republican? Do I seriously have to prove for the thousandth time my grasp of the elementary fact that the Democrats and Republicans “are both capitalists and imperialists”? (Though I never say they’re identical, with no differences at all, because that would be idiotic: the “two wings of the same bird of prey” have different if joined histories, different ethnocultural/demographic and regional constituencies, different funding bases, and different ideological and other permutations, of course. They need some real differences order to sell the corporate and imperial duopoly as “democratic” politics).

Imagining a Hillary Clinton Presidency So Far

Here, for it’s worth, are my reflections on what would be happening in America right now if Hillary Clinton (who Big Bad Bob calls “your [my] candidate”) had managed to squeak out an Electoral College victory (a far from fantastic possibility) last November. Yes, we would have been spared many of the terrible outrages, indignities and absurdities of the orange-tinted, malignantly narcissistic, Twitter-addicted, and eco-cidal beast called Donald Trump. But it wouldn’t be a pretty story, trust me.

Let’s start with the very elementary fact that Trump would not have conceded defeat. Recall that candidate Trump incredibly refused to honor the result of the election unless he emerged as the winner. The political campaign consultant and occasional CounterPuncher Geoff Beckman all-too commonsensically elaborates:

“Trump won the election by 77 electoral votes and he still screamed about 5-8 million phony voters and hired Kris Kobach and Hans Van Spakovsky to ensure that Democrats were barred from voting. Had he lost in a few states by 1%, he would have said the election was fixed and demanded recounts. Hilary — showing the dearth of sense for which she is known and reviled– would have demanded that there be no recounts (‘Al Gore don’t get a recount– why should he?’). Since a number of those states were in Republican hands, you would have had [Wisconsin Governor] Scott Walker, [Michigan Governor] Rick Snyder and maybe [Ohio Governor] John Kasich working against her. That would have gone on for months.”

Let’s assume Hillary Clinton survived a recount. Washington would be mired in the worst crippling partisan warfare since 1861. Congress would be in full revolt. The presidency would be endlessly mired in the email scandal. “And,” Beckman reminded two days ago, the Republicans’ “thing #1 (after another Obamacare repeal) would have been impeachment based on her email server.”

Indeed. Impeachment would have been a strong likelihood given the partisan balance in the House, though conviction and removal (requiring two-thirds of the Senate) would likely have been avoided.

Meanwhile, the right-wing militias (at least 500 strong near the end of Obama’s reign) would be on the murderous march. Who knows what their homeland body count would be by now with Trump, Breitbart, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh et al. egging them on to new levels of frothing white-nationalist and hyper-masculinist paranoia and violence?

“Crooked Hillary” has long been the gun-toting hard-right’s top bete noire – a bigger enemy for them than even the dastardly “Kenyan Marxist-Lenninist and Reparations Advocate Barack Obama”? A Clinton45 presidency would have pushed the looney-tunes, paranoid-style right into new heights of apocalyptic brutality.

The Clinton 45 administration would be loaded with top globalist ruling-class and imperial operatives from Wall Street and the Council on Foreign Relations. A dangerous Russophobic war hawk and a dedicated enemy of left popular nationalism in Latin America, Mrs. Clinton might well have initiated significant direct and dangerous military conflict with Russia in Syria or Ukraine and already orchestrated a U.S overthrow of the Maduro regime in Venezuela. She would be doing this to the measured applause of CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

Just how much a President Hillary’s likely mass-murderous militarism would reflect her strong ideological commitment to the American Empire Project (never forget her U.S. Senate vote to let George W. Bush criminally invade Iraq if he wanted to [he did]) and how much it would reflect a “wag the dog” need to deflect attention from domestic political chaos is an interesting question.

The anti-war movement would remain largely non-existent, crippled by so many liberals’ and progressives’ strange, and deeply conditioned inability and/or refusal to see Democrats as the war mongers they are.

Hillary’s Wall Street speeches (the ones Bernie Sanders pressed her to release) suggest strongly that a Madam President Clinton would be working toward the privatization of Social Security or at least the rollback of Social Security benefits while otherwise and more generally advancing the Bob Rubin-approved-neoliberal-pseudo-“inclusive”-capitalist agenda she and her husband have trail-blazed for decades. Serious union organizing would remain essentially illegal, wages could continue to stagnate, wealth would continue to concentrate into ever fewer hands. A new financial meltdown would beckon.

This would set the GOP up for gaining yet further hard-right-wing power in Congress after the 2018 mid-term elections. The nation would be waiting for a right-wing presidency possibly worse than Trump’s in 2021 or 2026.

As under Obama44 and Clinton42, the nation’s disproportionately Black, Latino, and Native American poor would continue to endure harsh socio-economic and criminal justice oppression – with little if any help from the federal government despite best effort of Identity-politicized liberals to rally them to the defense of the Democratic Party.

Maybe it was best to go through this TrumPence shit sooner rather than later. The rightmost party wants to completely deregulate energy and accelerate the exterminist cooking of the planet beyond human livability. Is it better to confront that horrific reality now or in four or eight years, when capitalogtenic climate change has moved us closer to extinction?

The Obstruction Out

It would be useful, perhaps, for a Democrat to be seen sitting atop the corporate and imperial state. One ultra-left theme (another staple in my email in-box) welcomed Trump as the “spark for the revolution we need.” But it doesn’t really work like that, I’m afraid. Horrible moronic white-male Republicans in the White House tend to reinforce the narrative that the national fix is electing a Democrat. Masses of people are more likely to get it that a radical popular uprising is required when a sitting Democratic administration demonstrates that the dismal, dollar-drenched Dems are every bit as corporate as the other capitalist party – and that “everything still sucks” when the hold the highest office. The Democrats are better at posing as an Opposition Party – and thereby coopting real popular resistance – when they are out of office than when they are “in power.”

But, of course, Hillary, like Obama after 2010, would have Republican and Congressional “obstruction” to blame for her failures, making it all too easy for the Democrats not to own the state-capitalism they help advance.

So that’s my take on how wonderful things would be if “[my] candidate” (right) Hillary (I voted Green as usual) had won.

In the Absence of a Left, It Doesn’t Really Matter….

Ultimately, I increasingly find, tactical considerations on whether it’s better for those of on the left to have a Democrat or a Republican in the White House are fairly immaterial in the absence of an actual and functioning Left in this country. Let’s say you think it’s better to have the GOP in – this out of some Maoist or other “backlash theory” of revolution (“heightening the contradictions” and all that). Or let’s say you share my longstanding (if fading) sense that Democrats in the White House tend to be more educationally useful in demonstrating how both of the capitalist parties suck (something I understand very well, whatever Big Bad Bob wants to think). In the absence of serious Left organization beneath and beyond the quadrennial, major-party, big-money, big media, and candidate-centered electoral spectacles that are sold to us as “politics” – the only politics that counts – it really doesn’t matter all that much. Either way, we’re screwed.

Neither progressive policy proposals nor radical societal vision beyond the current reigning unelected dictatorships are in short supply on “the Left.” Leftists are commonly, even almost ritually told that they carp and complain without offering solutions. But as Noam Chomsky wrote eleven years ago, “there is an accurate translation for that charge: ‘they present solutions and I don’t like them.’” What is most missing on the Left are not policy and societal solutions but rather cohesive, resilient, long-lasting radical organization tying together the various fragmented groups and issues around which Left progressive and Leftists often fight very good struggles in the U.S. Without serious, durable, unified, and convincing Left organization, neither revolutionary vision nor reform proposals are going to go very far.

This is no small matter. Given capitalism’s systemically inherent war on livable ecology – emerging now as the biggest issue of our or any time – the formation of such a new and united Left popular and institutional presence has become a matter of life and death for the species. “The uncomfortable truth,” Istvan Meszaros rightly argued 16 years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.”

Last year, as every four years, the U.S. “Left,” such as it is, tore itself up in the usual quadrennial debate about how to best respond to the narrow and stupid, plutocratic electoral choices on offer from the horrid party and elections system. We can obsess and hold our breath until we’re blue in the face about supposedly nice cops (Carter, Clintons, Obama) versus bad cops (Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, Trump) – about execution by bullet versus execution by hanging, death by heart attack vs. death by stroke – or we can stop, breathe, and dig down to do the elementary work of building ongoing, dedicated, popular movements beneath and beyond the masters’ deadening election cycles.

Help Paul Street keep writing here.


Paul Street is an independent radical-democratic policy researcher, journalist, historian, author and speaker based in Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of seven books to date: Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Routledge, 2005); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: a Living Black Chicago History (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007); Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008); The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Paradigm, 2010); (with Anthony DiMaggio) Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011); and They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014). Paul writes regularly for Truthdig, Telesur English, Counterpunch, Black Agenda Report, and Z Magazine.

from the archives:

Wonder if the Arch-authoritarian Racist Idiot Donald Trump will Make it to 2020? by Paul Street

The Democratic Party Stands for the Socio-pathological System of Class Rule Called Capitalism by Paul Street

Abby Martin and Greg Palast: The Hidden Purging of Millions of Voters

John Pilger and Julian Assange: Secret World of US Election

Does The Lesser Evil Lead To Less Evil?

John Pilger: Hillary Clinton May Well Turn Out To Be One Of The More Dangerous Presidents

What Hillary Clinton Privately Told Goldman Sachs by David Swanson

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13 thoughts on “Imagining a Hillary Clinton Presidency So Far by Paul Street

  1. Pingback: Clinton, Assange and the War on Truth by John Pilger – Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Race v. Class? More Brilliant Bourgeois Bullshit from Ta-Nehesi Coates by Paul Street – Dandelion Salad

  3. Pingback: The Killing of History by John Pilger – Dandelion Salad

  4. Pingback: Abby Martin: Voices From People’s Congress of Resistance – Dandelion Salad

  5. As your northern neighbor and friend I have two questions. Why did approximately 45% of US eligible voters decide not to vote? (even 2-4% more could have changed the outcome) What would it take to have a legally recognized third party run for office during the election?

  6. The non-cyclic democracy is a permanent, constant election process which has its point of commencement but is infinite in terms of time perspective. It enables people to vote at any time they wish with no limitation on the number of votes.

    Open vote means the right of people, in case they wish, to step out of their anonymity as voters in the continuous election process of the non-cyclic democracy.

    Vote of correction means an open vote of confirmation or rejection at any, desired by people time from the continuous election process with the non-cyclic democracy.

    With the non-cyclic democracy, the number of mandates is changeable. It is defined by the sum from the number of anonymous cyclic votes, combined with the number of open and correction votes at any time from the continuous election process.

    Threshold of trust of an elected via voting candidate in elective office means half of the number of people who have voted for them minus one vote.

    With the non-cyclic democracy, the duration of the mandate of an elected via voting candidate is discontinued with the expiry of the allotted for the mandate time or with the reaching of the threshold of trust.

    The list of candidates in elective office is bulk of information of free public access with data about each candidate in elective office. There, at any time from the election process, each voter and each public organization can add candidates or withdraw their trust from the proposed by them candidates in elective office.

    The open-type voters have the right of a correction vote at any time from the continuous election process of the non-cyclic democracy.

    The vote of correction is as follows:

    1. Open vote against one’s own choice, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process.

    2. Open vote in favour of another candidate from the list of names, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process of the non-cyclic democracy.

    3. Open vote in favour of a chosen by other voters candidate, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust, distancing the newly-elected from the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process.

    With the non-cyclic democracy, the current updated rating of a candidate in elective office for the purpose of their positioning towards the threshold of trust must be freely and publicly accessible in the list of candidates at any time from the continuous election process…

  7. One possible solution …

    Threshold of trust of an elected via voting candidate in elective office means half of the number of people who have voted for them minus one vote.

    With the non-cyclic democracy, the duration of the mandate of an elected via voting candidate is discontinued with the expiry of the allotted for the mandate time or with the reaching of the threshold of trust.

    The list of candidates in elective office is bulk of information of free public access with data about each candidate in elective office. There, at any time from the election process, each voter and each public organization can add candidates or withdraw their trust from the proposed by them candidates in elective office.

    The open-type voters have the right of a correction vote at any time from the continuous election process of the non-cyclic democracy.

    The vote of correction is as follows:

    1. Open vote against one’s own choice, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process.

    2. Open vote in favour of another candidate from the list of names, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process of the non-cyclic democracy.

    3. Open vote in favour of a chosen by other voters candidate, leading the elected one closer to the threshold of trust, distancing the newly-elected from the threshold of trust at any time from the continuous election process.

    With the non-cyclic democracy, the current updated rating of a candidate in elective office for the purpose of their positioning towards the threshold of trust must be freely and publicly accessible in the list of candidates at any time from the continuous election process…

  8. I try to do what you said, as often as possible, When ever I am criticizing Trump, or any/all of the Republicans. End my post by saying, by the way I also hate Hillary & the lame ass liberals of the Democratic party as well. Don’t believe me? Go look at my Facebook wall.

  9. Pingback: You Can’t Have a Progressive Movement Without Peace by David Swanson – Dandelion Salad

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