Clinton vs Trump
We now seem to have decided on our Two Weak Candidates. After a spirited primary season, it comes down to an establishment neoliberal candidate and a populist moderate candidate, both of whom are widely disliked and distrusted outside of their loyal core.
Watching Bernie Sanders’ campaign rattle the jewelry of the increasingly elitist Democratic Party has been an inspiring political story. No, he didn’t win the nomination, but he came out of near obscurity to start a serious progressive movement among the large voting bloc of millennials. He treats his young supporters like adults, and advises that they make their own judgment on the election. Instead of trading his endorsement for a post in the new administration, he is still campaigning for his issues. But has he had any effect on this election?
In his post, Winning in Losing: How Sanders pushed Clinton to the Left, Juan Cole lists several issues in which he thinks Sanders has changed the Clinton platform. Given Clinton’s recent arrogant dismissal of Sanders’ supporters, I am less optimistic:
1. Fracking: Clinton’s support for the controversial method of drilling for oil and gas has turned lukewarm. She puts so many restrictions on fracking that it is hard to see it making a profit under her. Clinton almost certainly adopted this position because Sen. Sanders campaigned on the environment and pushed her to the left.
Nevertheless, she is on record as being in favor of fracking, so I wonder if the restrictions would survive political deal-making. Even as coal is dying, Clinton still pays lip service to so-called ‘clean’ coal. Is there ‘clean’ fracking in our future?
2. TPP: She now opposes the mammoth trade bill, which would certainly have strengthened elits and further weakened individual rights.
No matter what she says while campaigning, I believe she is more likely than Trump to allow the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be enacted.
3. Clinton may not have flip-flopped on the Keystone XL pipeline, but she came to a clear and strong position against it after she began competing with Sen. Sanders.
Also after it became clear that synthetic oil, and the pipeline meant to carry dilbit from the tar sands in Canada, no longer appeared nearly as profitable when competing with lower prices for real petroleum crude from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
5. In February, Clinton abruptly announced that she was for breaking up the big banks. Sanders on hearing her speech joked that he was looking into copyright issues.
But she still hasn’t released the text of her speeches to Wall Street.
Here is the crux of the matter:
Clinton will continue to need the left wing of the Democratic Party as she campaigns through Nov. 4. The trick for the left will be to find ways of tying her down and making sure she can’t swing back to the center-right of the party after the July convention.
Clinton is not known for her honesty. If she does manage to defeat Trump, we can expect some liberal Supreme Court picks but a lot of thinly-disguised conservative policy decisions, such as those in the PPI which I discussed in Republican Lite. The wealthy and upper classes will feel secure, but life for the working class will continue to get worse.