[su_panel]As is very well known by now, Hillary Clinton won the Presidential election where it doesn’t count, in the popular vote, while she lost it where it does, in the electoral vote. Much has been written about the electoral vote system and why we have it. But a major reason for its existence is the same one that has riven this country since its founding: the institution slavery and its underlayment: the Doctrine of White Supremacy./ As I wrote in my previous column, Donald Trump ran first and foremost on the racism that has been at the core of Republican doctrine since Nixon declared the “Southern Strategy” and on the xenophobia that has been in its DNA since it was created in the 1850s. [/su_panel]
But running on those themes (and a few others based on hate and prejudice), Trump won the Presidency only because of the Electoral College. In the Electoral College, which decides who gets to be President, each state has the number of votes that equals it number of Representatives plus its two Senators. This gives an outsize weight to the smaller states. And that system, just like the Doctrine of White Supremacy, is in the Constitution because of slavery. And that system can throw an enormous imbalance into national elections, as just happened.
The “two Senators per state system” was put in place in part to protect the interests of the smaller population states. But it was also put in place in part to protect the interests of the slave states of the South, which generally had smaller populations than those of the North. This was despite the fact (and what a contradiction this was) the states were awarded a population calculation to determine the number of members of the House of Representatives they received which included 3/5ths of the number of slaves included in their populations. (Native Americans counted for nothing.) Two interesting points here. Slaves were not “people” except when they could be used to get more seats in the House of Representatives for a given state. There were slaves in the Northern states as well as in the Southern ones. In fact, New York, the last state to abolish slavery, did not do so until 1827. But the numbers were not high in any of the Northern slave states so they did not figure in elections.
But in any event, the racist candidate lost the popular vote. But because of the outside weight given to the smaller, rural states, which have an outside weight in it because of a remnant of governance based in the old Slavocracy, he won the Presidency. But then the question arises, could Hillary have won anyway. Or rather could a Democrat not bearing Hillary’s personal and political baggage have won anyway? In my view the answer is yes. And in my view, even Hillary could have won if she hadn’t been bearing her political baggage, which can be summarized in three words: Democratic Leadership Council. (Further, and I agree with her on this point, that even with her personal and political baggage she would have won, as I said, before the election, if the FBI Director James Comey had just kept his trap shut at the end of October.) But she did bear that political baggage, which combined with the personal stuff, what I called the “Cometization” of the 2016 election, and the existence of the Slavocracy-based institution of the Electoral College, doomed here chances.
In December, 2007, I published an article that postulated that in the primaries of that year the Democratic Party was running the equivalent of what in Standard Horse (trotters and pacers) race wagering is called “an entry.” Earlier this year I published a column entitled “How the DLC Democrats Helped to Make, Donald Trump, Presidential Candidate.” In that same column, I said that the Republicans this year would be running on three words: “Benghazi, Clinton, and emails.” And they did. When they should have been cornered by the policies that have been at the center of their program for decades, lower taxes for the rich, encouraging the export of capital, and de-regulation, the DLC association with such policies, over time made that virtually impossible for Hillary to do.
And indeed, in the election of 2016, Hillary was completely hamstrung by her intimate involvement with Democratic Leadership Council politics. Those politics, in summary, are generally right-wing on economic policy and, formerly at least, on social policy as well. She and her husband left behind from his Presidency what could hardly be called a record of progressive achievement in either area. Thus, when Trump falsely ran on what seemed to be a “populist” economic policy, of “bringing jobs back”, etc., jobs that had been exported primarily because of Republican policy, Clinton could hardly go on the offensive against him. Because for much of it, the Democrats, led by her husband, Al Gore, and the others, has been in the thick of it. Since the time of Bill Clinton and the dominance of DLC politics, there has been a Republican genius of getting their policies through and then being able to blame the Democrats for their outcomes.
And so, the billionaire Trump, supported by the right-wing of the Republican Party, presents himself as a reformer who will “bring the jobs back” (which for no other reason than the “CARing” of manufacturing — Computerization, Automation, and Robotization — cannot happen), Clinton can hardly attack him, for she was integral to the Democratic Party of the time and its policies that were central to such developments as de-industrialization. Think of many other issues that turned white workers and petit bourgeois at least against the Democratic Party. The de-regulation of the banking industry, the whittling away of the US “safety net,” already tiny compared to that of all the other advanced capitalist countries to begin with, going along with the tax cuts for the wealthy (which of Trump did not rail against) which have been the engine of the ever-growing economic in-equality in this country. And so on and so forth.
And so, while Clinton could have gone on the attack against Trump and shown that he was putting up a Potemkin Village of all front, all talk, and nothing behind it in terms of any kind of a program of implementation, she was hamstrung by former DLC cooperation on the policies that have led to the state in which the nation finds itself.
The Democratic Party has struggled with DLC dominance for several decades now. Because of the sudden shock of losing when it appeared that victory was in the bag, the battle between the DLC-wing (although they no longer call themselves that) and the Progressive wing (really what I have called the New-Deal-on-Steroids wing headed right now by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) is once again taking place, and very quickly. But until the Democratic Party can rid itself of the DLC and more importantly, the class interests that it represents, it is going to find it very difficult to mount an effective opposition to the Republicans, even if they are the minority party. This will require a transformation leap so vast and fundamental, considering the depth of degeneracy of this party after many decades of being little more than an accomplice to the Republicans, that the road will be fraught with hurdles, including a depleted faith at the base, which is perfectly understandable.
In sum yes, Clinton lost because of the emails, and the Clinton Foundation, (Benghazi not-so-much), Trump’s constant “Crooked Hillary” mantra, the existence of the Electoral College and James Comey’s 20-year prosecutorial pursuit of the Clintons. But still, if she hadn’t at heart still been a DLC-er, and thus could have mounted an effective counter attack against Trump and the Republicans in general, on the economic issues (and by-the-by, against the incredibly retrograde Republican Party platform), it is very likely that she could have won anyway. Ah, the Duopoly at work.
Postscript: After I finished writing this column, I came across the following summary of what happened in the U.S. election, from Thomas Piketty. While Piketty is certainly a capitalist economist, as a member of what might be called the Reich-Krugman Group of that genre, his observations are well worth paying attention to:
“Let it be said at once: Trump’s victory is primarily due to the explosion in economic and geographic inequality in the United States over several decades and the inability of successive governments to deal with this.
“Both the Clinton and the Obama administrations frequently went along with the market liberalization launched under Reagan and both Bush presidencies. At times they even outdid them: the financial and commercial deregulation carried out under Clinton is an example. What sealed the deal, though, was the suspicion that the Democrats were too close to Wall Street – and the inability of the Democratic media elite to learn the lessons from the Sanders vote. . . .
“The tragedy is that Trump’s program will only strengthen the trend towards inequality. He intends to abolish the health insurance laboriously granted to low-paid workers under Obama and to set the country on a headlong course into fiscal dumping, with a reduction from 35% to 15% in the rate of federal tax on corporation profits, whereas to date the United States had resisted this trend, already witnessed in Europe.”
[su_panel background=”#e6f1f6″ color=”#1d1919″ border=”8px solid #cccccc” shadow=”7px 0px 1px #eeeeee” radius=”7″] ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior Editor, Politics, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being Senior Editor, Politics, for The Greanville Post, he is: a Contributor for American Politics to The Planetary Movement; a “Trusted Author” for Op-Ed News.com; a contributor to the “Writing for Godot” section of Reader Supported News; and a contributor to From The G-Man. He is the Editorial Director and a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine.us. Further, he is an occasional Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, BuzzFlash Commentary, and Dandelion Salad. Dr. Jonas’ latest book is Ending the ‘Drug War’; Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach, Brewster, NY: Punto Press, available on Kindle from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ending-Drug-War-Solving-Problem-ebook/dp/B01EO9RGKO/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461783388&sr=1-4&keywords=Ending+the+Drug+War
His most recent book on US politics is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel (Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY), and available on Amazon.[/su_panel]