By Cody Jones, News Staff Writer
Since securing the presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has catered to wealthy, high-ranking Republicans unwilling to support Donald Trump. In one of the most polarizing elections in decades, Clinton’s uninspiring progressivism and her reluctance to unite a fractured Democratic Party will only deepen the party’s divide.
More than two dozen officials from George W. Bush’s administration endorse Clinton. A dozen officials from the administrations of George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan are throwing in their support. Her campaign chairman trumpeted the support of 40 more high-profile Republicans within the past month. She has sought the financial support of Mitt Romney’s donors.
This is more than symbolic gesturing. Republicans who are publicly denouncing Trump and supporting Clinton, particularly those who are doing so with their money, expect something in return. Money talks. They expect a seat at the table in Clinton’s administration. In an election where Clinton is struggling to energize the base of the Democratic Party, pandering to prominent Republicans is dangerous and shortsighted.
During the primaries, Clinton pushed an inspiring, hopeful message: single-payer health care will “Never, ever come to pass.” She is one of the most hawkish members of her party and will likely expand our military involvement abroad as commander in chief in the failed War on Terror. This is an effective way to further alienate the Democratic Party’s base and dampen its morale.
Compared to Obama in 2008 and 2012, Clinton is struggling with voters between the ages of 18 and 30. She is doing much better than Trump with that demographic, but the increasing cynicism among young voters is not going to be improved by Clinton’s decision to pander to many of those on the right who have systematically obstructed and halted progress.
In 2014, Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have increased the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. In 2015, Senate Republicans blocked proposals that would have increased it to $12 and would have allowed employees to earn up to seven paid sick days per year. This does not seem like a party interested in the well-being of the public.
A majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents think the minimum wage should be increased and the same is true of paid sick days. A gap exists between public opinion and public policy, between the typical voter and the politician representing that voter.
It would be unreasonable to expect the next president to refuse to work with Congress — work which will likely include legislative concessions simultaneously conciliatory and disappointing to both parties. That is a cornerstone of the political process. Clinton’s Republican endorsers and donors expect her to return the favor which is more worrying than ordinary compromise. If she does not follow through, they will try to ensure she is not reelected in 2020. If she does return the favor, her pragmatism may be viewed as capitulation instead of compromise and the polarization within the Democratic Party will continue.
Over the past couple of months, Clinton attempted to depict Trump as an outsider of the Republican Party, to suggest he is not representative of other Republican politicians. Now dozens of high-profile Republicans are backpedalling their support of Trump. Clinton, at least in part, allowed this to happen without consequence.
The Republicans who initially rejected Trump’s campaign, endorsed him as the nominee and then withdrew their endorsements after the release of a recording of his sexually explicit comments are now able to wash their hands of him, thanks to Clinton.
Imagine if she had spent the last several months tying the GOP to Trump instead of distancing the two. Democrats would have a better chance of winning congressional seats, thereby giving Congress a chance of legislating Clinton’s campaign promises, but that seems less likely now.
To be sure, a Trump presidency would be disastrous. His comprehension of domestic and foreign policy is lacking. He changes his political positions on a whim. His dog-whistle politics provided a lectern at which racists and sexists can amplify their voices. He does not belong in the White House, but he does represent an increasing level of dissatisfaction and frustration existing within the electorate. These feelings will not suddenly vanish if Trump is not elected.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign similarly represented a populist dissatisfaction and frustration on the other end of the political spectrum. The grievances expressed by his supporters are also here to stay.
Clinton’s “Stronger Together” slogan is meaningless. The divide between and within the two major political parties is increasing and if her tepid approach to this election is any indication of what her presidency will be like, we should expect to see a similar, if not more polarized, political climate in 2020.