Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Our Real Problem? The Moderate Always Loses

By PATRICK WOOD

In 2010, one midterm election was enough to unseat half of the so called “Blue Dog Democrats” (more moderate/conservative Democrats) from Congress. This statistic is pretty amazing for a few reasons. One, as an advantage of incumbency, members of Congress have extremely high reelection rates. They are reelected roughly 90% of the time. Second, this happened when there wasn’t even a presidential election occurring. People generally don’t give a damn about these elections, voter participation is lower than it is during presidential election years, and one would think this would boost the incumbency advantage for members of Congress.

But 2010 saw blue dog after blue dog fall.

In 2012, the Republican Party flirted with more extreme conservative candidates before nominating Mitt Romney, who struck many as a much more vanilla, centrist choice. Romney was initially perceived as a wise pick, as it was thought he had the greatest chance of appealing to voters who identified as anything other than “very conservative.” Romney ended up losing his bid to Barack Obama, and in truth, the contest wasn’t that close.

This was reminiscent of 2004 when the Democrats did the exact same thing with John Kerry, who mounted an unsuccessful bid to defeat George Bush. “Boring,” “lackluster,” “flip-flopping,” “calculating,” centrist Kerry lost both the popular vote and the electoral vote to a vulnerable incumbent president.

So, who does win elections? Extremists, populists, hard party-liners, and those who appeal to the party’s base. People like Donald Trump. Why? They’re exciting. They bring out their supporters on election day.

For moderates, like Kerry and Clinton, this is much harder to do. Soaring ideals are simply more inspiring than calculating pragmatism.

While more people might align more closely with a moderate and not care for the more extreme candidate, these people need an additional reason to come out to the polls. Their emotions and passions are not stirred by vanilla establishment candidates.

Meanwhile the extreme, populist/demagogic, or hyper-partisan candidate enjoys the advantage of soaking up most of the media attention. We have to concede they’re exciting, and we’re hanging on every word.

So what does this mean? – It’s bad, bad news.

The level of partisanship in Washington is only going to get worse. To illustrate this, take this year’s senatorial elections. The Democrats managed to unseat two Republican senators. Maggie Hassan just barely eeked out a win over Kelly Ayotte, a somewhat moderate Republican from New Hampshire. The only blowout against an incumbent Republican was Tammy Duckworth’s victory over Illinois senator Mark Kirk, the most liberal Republican in the entire Senate.

The moderate always loses in the USA. Senator Kirk had a strong record on LGBT rights, reviled Donald Trump, and voted with the Democrats on numerous issues.

With Kirk gone, are any remaining Republicans going to compromise and work with the Democrats? It seems very unlikely. The Democrats have eliminated their only friend from across the aisle. Expect countless strict party-line votes once the new Congress begins.

While Kirk was defeated, a senator in Wisconsin managed to defy the expectations of forecasters and hold on to his seat in Congress. This man is Ron Johnson, who defeated progressive darling Russ Feingold in the purply/blue state of Wisconsin after suggesting that impeachment motions should be brought immediately if Clinton were to win the presidency.

The extremist wins, the moderate loses, and the country suffers.

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The Nightmare of Hillary Clinton

By PATRICK WOOD

Hillary Clinton is a nightmare for American leftists.

How many Sanders supporters and peaceniks happily hopped, skipped, and jumped over to the Clinton campaign when it become apparent Bernie Sanders was not going to win the Democratic nomination? Surely not as many as had serious reservations, flat-out refused to support Clinton, or only made the switch because of the grotesque spectre of a Trump presidency.

This is partly because Clinton doesn’t have nor does she deserve the same reputation for honesty and political integrity that Sanders does. Clinton’s statement that she “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified” on her private e-mail server while she was Secretary of State was not true and her recounting of landing under sniper fire in Bosnia was either a sign of a very faulty memory or a straight-up fib.

Mostly, however, it’s because Clinton has embraced policy positions that most progressives in 2016 do not support. Clinton has rejected the idea of pursuing single-payer healthcare, instead she wants to work to improve the ObamaCare system. Clinton has refused to encourage a ban on fracking or an end to the Drug War. Wall Street banks like Citi Group and Goldman Sachs liter her list of top contributors over her political career. Her foreign policy views have been labeled “hawkish” and include a threat to go to war with Iran if it breaches the nuclear agreement and a promise to immediately attempt to remove the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad from power.

Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine as her running mate will do little to herd in fleeing progressives. Kaine is a boring centrist, with a lackluster record on reproductive rights and staunchly pro-Israel foreign policy views. To his credit, Kaine is surprisingly progressive on gun control for a Virginia senator, and that is perhaps the one issue where this ticket presents any hope for progressive change.

The progressive vote is going to be divided in many ways this November, but most progressive voters will fall into one of four categories: voting for Clinton, writing-in Bernie Sanders, voting for Jill Stein, or staying home because they are disillusioned with the two major party candidates.

Jill Stein, who barely cracked 0.3% of the vote last election, is poised to have a much, much bigger year. In her, progressives see an opportunity to vote for an agenda they agree with that doesn’t exist with Hillary, and they don’t have to forgo voting for a female candidate for President of the United States.

Of course, this presents the same old bitter debate over third party candidates. Many, like George Takei, are encouraging former Sanders supporters and progressives to “vote blue no matter who,” deeply concerned about what a Trump presidency would mean for the United States. These are the voices that especially in this election view a vote for Jill Stein or another third party candidate as a wasted vote, or worse yet “a vote for Trump.”

IT’S A TRAP.

The Democratic Party has produced one of the most disfavored nominees in the party’s history. If all of America’s progressives fall in line to support Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party has no incentive to cease running hawkish centrists with honesty problems, corporate backing, and mediocre records on the environment and fighting poverty. Unless the Democratic Party begins losing a little support on the left, they will feel free to continue this drift to the right. Already they have come up with a ticket other countries would likely view as more conservative. American progressives deserve a better choice, one that aligns with their views and values. That is why I offer a battlecry intended to counter “Vote Blue No Matter Who”, with all due respect to the magnificent George Takei, and that is “Have A Spine, Vote for Stein.”

Clintrump and You

Let’s face it. We’re looking at the worst presidential election match-up in history — cold, calculated, corrupt Hillary Clinton vs. brash, bombastic, bumbling Donald Trump. I admit it. I’ve thought about voting for a third-party candidate. Jill Stein shares most of my views, but she has some downright implausible ideas. She won’t win. Gary Johnson shares my views on social issues and even some economic issues. He’s positive and seemingly reasonable, but libertarianism is simply too inflexible to respond to changes in our world. My guy was Bernie Sanders but he simply won’t be the nominee. And maybe he would be too soft and get steamrolled by Republicans just like Obama had happen to him.

Now a lot of people are saying the lack of indictment for Hillary Clinton regarding the emails is politically motivated. FBI Director James Comey was a registered Republican but he later said he is no longer so. Perhaps Comey realizes there’s something more important in the greater scheme of things. Perhaps Comey has been so turned off by the idea of Donald Trump becoming president that he left the Republican Party. And maybe that is why he is letting Hillary off the hook. I’m sure Mr. Comey is aware that she is vulnerable to anything that would damage her reputation and such damage would give an edge to Trump.

What I find so perplexing is why so much time is wasted conducting witch-hunts on minor blunders and even victimless crimes. Sure, that is politically motivated. Republicans want to see Hillary fall apart. The death of four Americans at the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, sure doesn’t make Hillary look good. And I haven’t read the emails that the State Department and WikiLeaks released. And sure she shouldn’t have used a private email servers to send and receive classified information. Nevertheless, did storing her emails on a private server threaten national security or aid terrorist efforts? Has anyone died or suffered physically as a result of her using a private server as opposed to that of the State Department? I don’t know. This angle of the story doesn’t seem to reach many people when it should. There seems to be this obsession with the letter of the law when it comes to Hillary.

What I find more troubling about Mrs. Clinton is that she supported the overthrow of dictatorial regimes in Iraq and Libya. Trump recently said that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, despite being a “very bad guy,” was good at killing terrorists. Well, he killed a lot of people because there was no due process and he wanted firm control. Because he was Sunni, the minority Sunnis felt they were important too. With Hussein out of the picture and the majority Shi’ites in control, many Sunnis couldn’t join the military because of their connections to Hussein’s Ba’ath Party. What else were these disaffected Sunnis going to do other than join ISIS? You see, dictators are very bad, inhumane people. However, their rule by predictable terror squashes unpredictable acts of terror.

Libya is similar. Gaddafi was a pretty terrible guy. He wasn’t the kind of guy to take home to mom and dad. Trump even said the U.S. should topple Gaddafi and that it would be very easy. Then, Trump flip-flopped on this issue because he realized this overthrow destabilized Libya. Gaddafi’s demise resulted in a power vacuum, allowing ISIS to establish a colony on the central northern shores of Libya. “Accidentally strengthened terrorist organization” does not look good on a political resumé.

When voting, Americans should know that Clinton and Trump have both made horrible decisions regarding foreign policy. However, a President Trump’s careless, impulsive, and insensitive approach to diplomacy and military interventions would present a greater threat to American national security. He too thought toppling Gaddafi would be a good idea. It hasn’t been good in Libya since. He even said ISIS should be allowed to topple Assad’s regime in Syria. Seriously?! Assad (and the American-backed Kurds) are the only reasons ISIS hasn’t taken over the entire freaking country!

If ISIS were to take over all of Syria, that would strengthen their claim to country status and legitimize them as the new caliphate for Muslims. We can’t do that now when they are losing territory day by day. The Iraqi army is making ISIS fighters retreat like never before. And yet, we’re seeing ISIS commit more terrorist acts as they lose more and more territory. They can only win right now with the element of surprise and hiding in plain sight. We need a strategy that protects us from terrorism. We need to realize that military intervention is not the only option, that Sunnis and Shias are never going to get along in Iraq, that we need a nuanced and conscientious approach that protects the lives of Americans wherever they may be. That includes diplomacy, more responsible nation creation (e.g., a three-state solution dividing Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds), and not toppling dictators just because we can.