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(Photo detail: Twitpic/@HillaryClinton)

Clinton's F-You to Progressives: This is How Trump Could Become President

Nominating a political clone like Sen. Tim Kaine is exactly the wrong thing to do if you want a higher turnout

John Atcheson

Here’s what Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her VP tells us:

  • She suffers from a possibly fatal mix of arrogance and political cluelessness that may well hand the election to Trump;
  • She is totally beholden to the Oligarchy she claims to want to reign in;
  • She’s not a progressive – and her so-called leftward “evolution” on issues was a calculated, cynical and clumsy attempt to neutralize Sanders.

Before we explore these issues, let’s get some perspective here.  Tim Kaine is not a right wing zealot.  He’s backed expanding payroll taxes to cover a broader range of income to increase Social Security’s solvency.  He’s supported some limited expansion of gun control in a state that loves its guns. He’s got a reasonably good record on LGBT rights (after “evolving” a bit). He’s got a mixed record on climate and energy, banning some but not all fracking when governor of Virginia, and supporting the use of fossil fuels as a “bridge” to clean energy (including support for clean coal); but at least he acknowledges the science on climate change. He’s suggested that waging war against ISIL requires congressional authorization, and he called for withdrawing from Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

"With Clinton’s lead at about 4% in polls, taking an action that was certain to shrink the turnout was either arrogant, stupid, or demonstrative of someone who is so out of touch with the plight of the average American as to be clueless."

But he’s also supported Fast Track and praised the TPP, although he’s declined to say whether he would vote for it.

In short, he’s pretty much a centrist candidate much like Hillary.  And therein lies the problem.

It’s About the Passion, Stupid

Make no mistake – this presidential race is all about passion.  Here’s why.

There is only one way that Trump can win the presidency, and that is if turnout is low. 

With only 23% of Americans identifying as Republicans, and more independents leaning left than right, a big turnout is deadly to Trump’s chances. 

Conversely, a low turnout strongly favors Trump.  Consider the 2014 midterms in which the Democrats were handed a devastating defeat that was far worse than any polling suggested.  Why? With the lowest turnout for a midterm election in over 72 years, the race went to the most rabid; not the most reasonable.  As Yeats put in his poem, The Second Coming:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are filled with a passionate intensity.

It’s always been apparent that Trump was playing to the primitive lizard brain, and with his fear mongering acceptance speech on Thursday it showed he’s intending to double down on this tactic.  It’s classic demagoguery.  First, neutralize the press; second, make people afraid. Third, declare “I alone, can fix it.”

Most Americans won’t swallow this swill.  But if turnouts are as low as 2014 when only 36.3% of eligible voters showed up, then Trump could win by getting only 20% of eligible voters. And while Trump’s campaign is a study in chaos, the man has proven good at one thing: generating passion; not to mention irrational frenzy. These people may be crazy, and they may constitute a minority, but they will turn out.

Contrast that with Hillary. At a time when people are desperately looking for something other than a status quo corporatist candidate, she’s the quintessential party politician, complete with PACs, and dragging her past support for Wall Street, the Big Banks, perennial Wars, and trade policy behind her like a giant buzz kill. The only thing that saved her in the primary was strong backing by the press, the elite party members, and – inexplicably – African Americans.  That and her “evolution” to the left.

The only folks who feel passion for Hillary are women over 40 and the elite economic and political establishment. A powerful group, but not big in terms of numbers. After significant concessions in the platform debate, she had some hope of winning over at least some real progressives. Tim Kaine’s appointment will cut that number significantly.

Nominating a political clone is exactly the wrong thing to do if you want a higher turnout.  And Kaine is a clone.

Hillary is not a Progressive

But Kaine’s appointment tells us something else – Clinton’s brief feint to the left wasn’t for real. Kaine is obviously a dog whistle to show Big Banks and Wall Street that her tough talk during the campaign wasn’t to be taken seriously.

Now it’s likely that turnouts for a Presidential race will be higher, but by how much, and the real question is how will it be enough for her to win, after this appointment?

With Clinton’s lead at about 4% in polls, taking an action that was certain to shrink the turnout was either arrogant, stupid, or demonstrative of someone who is so out of touch with the plight of the average American as to be clueless. Beyond that, it’s irresponsible. Giving a candidate as heinous as Trump a shot at the Presidency raises the question of whether she has the judgement to serve as President.

Finally, it shows she is beholden to Big Banks and Wall Street

There was a debate during the primary about whether Hillary was beholden to Wall Street and the financiers for the money she’s received from them.  Elizabeth Warren gave us one example.  Hillary just confirmed that it remains the case generally.


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John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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