The US Presidential elections. I felt like writing an article about the Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton for a particular reason. I know this is not the first article dedicated to her persona, her policies, her campaign promises, or her scandals that have been haunting news-consumers since the 1990s. This article is about the socio-political structures in which Secretary Clinton moves and what issues her constituents believe matters from the moment she takes office in February 2017.
Speaking about articles on the U.S. presidential election, the most surprising one comes from Vox contributor Ezra Klein. In this special he narrates on his progress forming a hypothesis about Clinton’s disappointing polling numbers regarding the interview contributions he held on Secretary Clinton. He learns something that he doesn’t at first finds interesting, becoming the cornerstone of his theory why Secretary Clinton is so successful in her career but doesn’t do well in her campaigns; She, more so than her male counterparts, is deemed by her colleagues to be a good listener.
“I Can’t Believe I’m Saying This. But Yes, Ted Cruz, I’m Listening”
Now, being a good listener, Klein explains, doesn’t make you a good politician. I would agree with Klein on that. However, it does help relate to the issues on which both sides in the discussion are passionate about. Ideological politicians get their energy and passion from their beliefs. What differs Secretary Clinton from most politicians is that she is much more pragmatic by nature, presumably finding clinging to ideologies a pain in the ass during negotiations; and during campaigning a cheap recruitment tool, potentially making promises that can not be delivered.
Secretary Clinton’s pragmatism suffers from a great lack of trust from the electoral base, who see her shifting views as inauthentic. Not being able to trust her on her views is to be expected when politicians flipflop and is a reason why her presidential campaign is regarded as weak. And that’s a shame. Because, Clinton as a pragmatist, different from an ideologue — if elected in November — might bring a positive turn to the presidential seat.
“Fuck It Mountain”
Secretary Clinton shifting views might be her greatest asset in transforming the political machine of Washington. If she’s the excellent listener that her colleagues claim her to be, Hillary Clinton might well reshape the Democratic Party and American political system not yet seen in United States contemporary history. There are fours parts of the U.S. government Clinton’s presidency will address:
1) The Democratic Party. Though Senator Sanders is heavily regarded as the new face of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton is taking over many of Bernie Sanders’ policies, which is proof why she can rebuild the party of FDR to a progressive left-leaning movement focussing on key democratic issues such as health care, education, women’s rights, economic and social segregation, and to a lesser extent making moves to decriminalize marihuana in the United States.
2) The House of Representatives: with the Republicans probably gaining a minority vote in November this year, the party of Ronald Reagan must find a way to reinvent itself in order to not become the party of the angry white American. The recent success of Donald Trump does not come from nowhere. Yes, the media plays a role, but the far-right gained traction through the Republican Party since the Barry Goldwater years. The current Republican Party does not have moderates anymore, yet has to come forward, and in order to pass resolutions in the House of Representatives, it will have to shift to a middle-ground position. Clinton taking a left-of-center position in the yet to be enacted policies can result in bipartisan agreements on key issues.
3) The Supreme Court: electing a liberal-leaning SCOTUS. No more delays, no postponements, no excuses. The next Supreme Court will have a majority of liberal Supreme Court Justices.
“Blood In The Water”
As last, 4) the Presidency. Hillary Clinton taking on the role of commander-in-chief has many left in discomfort over the 2016 elections. Secretary Clinton’s track-record — for example, her view on the Iraq War (2003) — supersedes the argument of having an excellent listener as a national leader benefitting America’s civil society — and global civil societies for that matter.
The presidential seat, the role of commander-in-chief, greatly evolved since the 1900s onwards. After WWII there have been no declarations of war, yet the United States has been and still is involved in numerous military operations. Where the 43rd President George W. Bush took the United States to the Middle East and brought about the greatest conflict of the early-21st century, current sitting President Barack Obama procured himself of the most sophisticated tools to search, identify and kill terrorists. For years to come, his numerous drone-killings will have an undoubtedly great effect on the existing conflict, a conflict Secretary Clinton herself will have difficulties in managing for the following reasons:
a) We live in a post-9/11 world, which means the American public smells blood whenever there is a direct threat to the U.S.. If necessary, terrorists will be detained or killed without trial.
b) We have a sectarian militant movement called ISIS in the Middle East and the suggested plan of action by either the Republican or Democratic side does not differ that much. ISIS should be “destroyed,” as Senator Sanders pleads; or “carpet-bombed,” as former Republican Presidential nominee Ted Cruz suggested. Who can blame these calls to action? It’s what Democratic and Republican constituents want! The only sane voice in this discussion is – in my mind – Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who pleads to “stop with these military interventions,” and pleads for a containment of the conflict “without putting boots on the ground, without dropping bombs,” which, he says, “is making things worse.” Unfortunately, his voice is yet to remain heard in the 2016 presidential campaign.
c) Media outlets, the American public and most of the political elites hold strong Cold War-prejudices against Russia President Vladimir Putin which makes military cooperation in conflict areas such as Syria and Iraq difficult. This perception translates in international sanctions hitting the Russian economy hard, but leaving little space for western ideas to flow into the country. For Russia, liberal media outlets in the European nations and the United States or media channels through social media give enough space for Russian propaganda to roam about and stir-up conflicts when deemed necessary. At the moment, Russia is winning the propaganda war over Eastern-Europe and puts NATO in a very uncomfortable situation; whereas NATO-forces and Russian troops do not have to inherently in conflict as is generally perceived.
“The Washington Playbook”
My concern does not lie in Clinton’s domestic policies. From my calculations based on the alliances that she has built over the years, in her first four years as President, Hillary Clinton will continue President Obama’s work and expand social security; making an effort to lower student debt and enact policies that would make American society more equal for women and minorities of color and for the LGBT community. If the Democrats can hold a majority in the House of Representatives, these issues will be very likely to be addressed. Also, the election of new members of the Supreme Court has the potential of drastically turning American society around and produce laws that can undo the work of years of harmful conservative political action.
My main concern, however, lies in Clinton’s foreign policies. Disregarding her track-record for a moment, President Obama came into office promising an end to the wars in the Middle East. These promises could not be kept. There is a tendency for U.S. Presidents the moment they come into office to adjust their views on difficult subject-matter such as ideological extremism and militant sectarian organizations. My concern lies in whether Secretary Clinton will listen to the right people and will not misuse the imperial powers that have been invested in the Presidency since WWII.
The difference between President Obama and Secretary Clinton lies in their perception of following protocol, or what is generally called the “Washington Playbook.” Where President Obama would sometimes change his course of action at the very last moment, Secretary Clinton has far more a tendency of keeping course in a miscalculated move — as was the case in the Libya intervention (2011). Yet, I see potential for Secretary Clinton changing course of the U.S. as its current role as policeman of the world. By extracting the presidential powers to Congress, Clinton can make the United States an agent of peace and reserve the power of the Presidency to key issues.
It’s 2016 and a polity of non-interventionism is not reserved to the Libertarian candidate. It is more and more regarded as a sensible policy to issues that have been unsuccessfully treated in the past with military force. Non-interventionism is not the same as protectionism — to what Donald Trump and Senator Sanders would go as proclaimers of the anti-globalization movement. Non-interventionism essentially means that negative powers from within can not determine the actions by state-actors often directed through conflicts of interests. President Obama is learning that U.S. military overextension only causes harm while helping private actors and state actors that the U.S. essentially shouldn’t help.
There is no need for an American war-machine, nor for a war-time president. What the United States needs, and most importantly what the world needs is sensible state-to-state cooperation and a foreign policy that builds rather than destroys relationships, now more than ever. Secretary Clinton, listen to the right people.