Thanks to Trump, Hillary Clinton Will Not Have to Move Left to Win the Presidency

Politics Features Hillary Clinton
Thanks to Trump, Hillary Clinton Will Not Have to Move Left to Win the Presidency

Much has been made of a series of surveys regarding the willingness of Bernie Sanders supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton in a general election, the latest of which indicates that 28 percent would abstain. The existence of this demographic—”true progressives” who won’t vote for a neoliberal candidate—can be seen as the reason for Sanders’ success in the Democratic primary. They also represent a reason for hope, now that his chances of winning the nomination are gone—in order to beat Trump, the logic goes, Hillary will have to secure the left, and the only way to do so is adopt serious progressive policy. Sanders, even as a loser, will exert a strong influence on the nominee.

The problem here is Donald Trump. If it’s true that Hillary Clinton is widely unpopular among American voters, Donald Trump is the reason it doesn’t matter. The man is so reviled, beyond a vocal base that elevated him to the nomination, that 63 percent of women would never even consider voting for him. His popularity numbers keep dropping, and his poll numbers have followed suit.

What this means, essentially, is that the influence Bernie Sanders might be able to exert in a normal election has been rendered void. This is why, when Clinton and Sanders met last night after the final primary, the meeting was described as tense. Clinton tried to figure out what it would take to gain his endorsement, and Sanders questioned her commitment to progressive causes, but there was no true reaching out, and no indication that Clinton would be making any policy concessions.

Sanders has one bullet left in the chamber, and that’s his endorsement, but with Trump free-falling, the real question is whether it even matters. Sure, Clinton would like those votes, but as her machine continues to destroy Trump with the easiest attack campaign in political history, and Trump keeps burying his foot in his mouth as he tried to portray a “serious” politician, leftist support seems less necessary than ever before. Plus, the man actually scares people, which means the low turnout that usually plagues Democrats shouldn’t be a problem.

All she has to do, in order to win, is to point out that he’s a terrifying demagogue, and she’s not. This is why, when she appeared on MSNBC last week, she had no interest in naming a single policy on which Sanders had forced her to change positions. Now, that policy existed—it’s called TPP—but the fact that she feels no compulsion to admit it speaks volumes.

To Clinton and her camp, Bernie’s people are becoming less and less critical as time goes on. As a politician, Clinton is infamous for switching positions when it becomes expedient, but she’s also smart enough to know when she doesn’t have to change. And the worse Trump looks, and the more assured her victory seems, the more she’ll stay planted in the neoliberal center. Progressivism, at least in the executive branch, will have to wait.

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