After senator Bernie Sanders won the primary in New Hampshire talk about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s inevitability quietened for a while. Now that the results of the democrat primaries in South Carolina and Nevada have come in, the “inevitability”-crowd around Clinton seem to be regaining their confidence. Observing this I cannot help but recall a point made by Jimmy Dore of TYT, who quite frankly isn’t my primary source for intellectual insights to put it politely but who was definitively on to something here.
In this clip, from about two weeks ago, Jimmy, Cenk et al discuss the possibility of Clinton losing to Trump. Dore makes the point that there is a possibility of the email scandal coming back and actually being a real scandal, the TYT crew pitch some theory about how it perhaps has to do with foreign financial contributions to the Clintons’ charity foundation or something like that.Obviously, such a scenario could result in a bad case of president Trump, something about which my american readers mayt have an opinion or two.
This might or might not actually happen, but it goes towards the greater point of Clinton’s chances against Trump not being what the people who voted for her in Nevada or South Carolina may hope. I can easily imagine a rock-paper-scissor-scenario, where Clinton has the support of the wider public against Sanders, Sanders against Trump and Trump against Clinton. The main reason for why I, and honestly many others before me, would suggest something so counter-intuitive has to do with voter turnout. The United States has, by western standards, a low voter turnout, in the presidential election of 2012 it was 54.9%, which you can for example compare with the 85.8% turnout in the Swedish elections for parliament in 2014. In other words, all factions in american politics probably have large, yet to be mobilized, pools of reserve voters.
One such pool of reserves on the democrat side can roughly be caricatured as twenty-something males with Guy Fawkes masks. These are people who talk about the “system”, who perhaps put greater stock in the writings of Chomsky than one should and who if they were republicans would most certainly have been supporters of Ron Paul in 2012. Individuals like this may decide to not vote at all if the choice is between what they consider to be two “system hacks” like Clinton and Rubio.
This kind of talk about how Hillary Clinton is a part of a corrupt establishment is nothing new. Almost two decades ago, Christopher Hitchens dedicated the last chapter of his book on Bill Clinton’s presidency, “No one left to lie to”, to the doings of Hillary. This last chapter was titled “The shadow of the con man”. The prospect of a significant number of Bernie supporters deciding that the entire business of voting can go fuck itself if Clinton is their best choice is not unthinkable. A possible revelation of some scandal, as I above mentioned that the folks at TYT were spouting theories about, would only add fuel to this fire.
Voter resentment about the “system” leading to lower turnout is in itself not something that can only happen to the democrats, if say Rubio ends up being the GOP candidate instead of Trump. But if anyone else than Trump or maybe Cruz (though it’s not gonna be Cruz) is elected as the GOP’s candidate, then the resulting disappointment-induced drop in turnout will, I suspect, be so large that the democrats will win by default so that scenario is not interesting to talk about. The great surge that the “anti-PC” forces have been having with the rise of Trump in parallel with certain politicians in Europe only leading up to angry people in Ohio or Iowa or the Deep South getting to vote for Rubio can be likened to all air suddenly leaving a balloon. One cannot howl at a Trump rally one day and vote for Rubio the next without compromising with oneself in a way many aren’t prepared to.
Conversely, when it comes to pools of voters that may or may not be successfully mobilized, Trump might draw out all kinds of people who want to kick the DC-PC-axis in the privates. The more I think about it, the easier I find it to imagine a person who sees that the liberals in New York and San Francisco are more afraid of Trump than Romney and thus, having not bothered with Romney in 2012, gets to the voting booth for Trump believing that this time it’s different, this time it’s for real.
All of this, you will agree, might sound reasonable but leaves open the question about why it is that Hillary is beating Bernie right now. I have just explained how there is a group of specialist voters who will vote for Sanders and not Clinton. Obviously these didn’t make up the large masses who voted for Hillary in Nevada and South Carolina. This, I believe is simply due to name recognition and personality politics. There are policy differences between Sanders and Clinton to be sure, on matters such as education, foreign affairs and the financial industry. But I cannot imagine that Hillary’s slightly different take on how schools and collages are to be founded is something that wins elections. Maybe Hillary’s tone with regards to when the military should be used is, but I challenge any American readers I might have to name one other area where Clinton and Sanders differ where the Clinton approach appeals much more to large masses of people.
No, what is happening, I maintain, is that Hillary is still winning purely by default. People think that it is her turn now, that she perhaps is more electable and that Bernie is some unknown nobody from the wilderness of Vermont who is causing a fuss for no reason. I doubt that the feminist angle to this really is that relevant, it has elsewhere been suggested that a lot of female voters are voting for Hillary for the obvious reason but that can’t be all there is to it since these same women would never have voted for Carly Fiorina. No, this is simply a case of the inertia of the establishment, the idea got stuck among a lot of voters that after Obama it would be Hillary. Senator Elizabeth Warren would I believe, if she ran, have had the same problems as Sanders.
All of this can, like I implied above, be likened to a game of rock-paper-scissor with some uncertainties thrown in. Clinton is more probable to win against Sanders than not, Sanders if he gets the chance is more probable to win against Trump than not and Trump, I have started to suspect, is slightly more probable to win against Clinton than not.