by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
August , 2016
A CLINTON VICTORY IS NO SURE THING
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Hillary Clinton has a bit more than three months left to make the case that she is the best qualified person to be President.
In any other election year, it wouldn't be that hard against someone like Donald Trump. But, as we've seen so far, 2016 has not been a typical election year.
So many, many, many times this year, Trump has said or done things that would have scuttled any other political candidate. Yet his core base of support remains strong.
Glenn Greenwald, co-founding editor of The Intercept, offered a theory good as any when he compared Britain's Brexit vote in June to leave the European Union with continued support for Donald Trump in the U.S. election.
In a recent interview with Slate, Greenwald said he believes the elites on both sides of the Atlantic have one thing in common. There is "zero elite reckoning with their own responsibility for creating the situation that led to both Brexit and Trump and then the broader collapse of elite authority.
"The reason they resonated is that people have been so f----d by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can't imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo. You have this huge portion of the populace in both the U.K. and the U.S. that is so angry and so helpless that they view exploding things, without any idea of what the resulting debris is going to be, to be preferable to having things continue and the people they view as having done this to them to continue in power. That is a really serious, dangerous and not completely invalid perception that a lot of people who spend their days scorning Trump and his supporters, or Brexit, played a great deal in creating."
Filmmaker Michael Moore wrote pretty much the same thing on his website after the Republican National Convention, adding that the "angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people who were lied to by the trickle-down of Reagan and abandoned by Democrats" are not going to flock to Clinton.
That may explain why Clinton gave a speech that effectively co-opted the platform of her rival, Bernie Sanders.
I heard an awful lot of Bernie in Clinton's speech, and that wasn't a bad thing.
She and many of the speakers at the Democratic National Convention also managed co-opt the thing that Republicans once owned - patriotism and faith in the goodness of America.
America is not perfect, and not quite as glittery as many speakers described it at the Democratic convention, but it is far from the dystopian hellhole that so many speakers described at the Republican convention.
For Clinton to win over all the disaffected voters - the Bernie backers, the Reagan democrats, the skeptical independents, and the millions for whom the recovery from the Great Recession has never receded, she has to make her slogan "Stronger Together" actually mean something.
She and the Democrats have to acknowledge that economic inequality exists, fueled by tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, bad trade deals, and a dollop of racism. She has to answer for and, ultimately fix, the rigged economic system that has concentrated economic and political power in the the hands of a few.
Sanders raised these questions, and Clinton must not ignore them. That's because Trump has been talking about these issues too. Trump may not have any plans for addressing them, but it may be argued that he is doing a better job connecting with the disaffected voters than Clinton.
“Democrats seem to be endlessly beguiled by the prospect of campaign of national unity, a coming-together of all the quality people, and all the affluent people, and all the right-thinking, credentialed, high-achieving people,” wrote Thomas Frank in The Guardian last week. "The middle class is crumbling, the country is seething with anger, and Hillary Clinton wants to chair a meeting of the executive committee of the righteous.
"When Democrats sold out their own rank and file in the past it constituted betrayal, but at least it sometimes got them elected. Specifically, the strategy succeeded back in the 1990s, when Republicans were market purists and working people truly had 'nowhere else to go.' As our modern Clintonists of 2016 move instinctively to dismiss the concerns of working people, however, they should keep this in mind: Those people may have finally found somewhere else to go."
Ir's not hard to see a scenario where people are not voting out of disgust with both candidates; people who would vote for Clinton but can't because of restrictive election laws in Republican-controlled states; people who will vote for third party candidates like Jill Stein of the Greens or Gary Johnson of the Libertarians; and people who will vote for Trump no matter what.
All four things could substantially cut into Clinton's base of support, and that should scare the hell out of her campaign. Even though Trump has shown he is absolutely and totally unqualified to be president, it won't automatically mean that people will then vote for Clinton.
Again, this is far from a normal election year; what worked in the past will likely not work now. If Hillary Clinton doesn't realize this, history will not treat her kindly.
AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and has been an award-winning journalist in New England for more than 35 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.