It seems likely that in November we will be voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I keep hoping that something will occur to change that, but in all likelihood those will be our choices in less than five months. This is the first time, at least in my lifetime, that there were two such unpopular candidates from which to choose. Yes, I know … Trump says that everybody loves him, but that is just another of his lies. At last count his disapproval rating was over 60%. But does that mean Hillary is beloved? No, she, also has a high disapproval rating, just under 50%. This is the year that nobody is likely to be voting for the candidate of their choice, but rather we will be voting against the candidate we dislike most.
My hope is, has always been, that Trump will continue as he has been and ultimately drill so many holes in the bottom of his boat that it sinks before November 8th. I still believe that is likely, however today I am focusing on Hillary Clinton. It is obvious to any who understand even a bit about the United States government and how it works, both domestically, but equally important, within the global community, that Hillary Clinton is the better qualified of the two candidates. So how could she possibly lose, right? Hold on, though … there are two factors in play that could result in her loss, and in order for her to win, she must successfully address both of those factors.
The first factor is the disillusionment of the so-called ‘middle-class’. This is what led to Trump’s mercurial rise in popularity and Hillary must be able to recognize the level of discontent and address it in some realistic manner. While the unemployment rate is at an all-time low of 4.7%, people’s salaries have not kept up with inflation for at least the last ten years, leaving the average household with significantly less disposable income than they had ten years ago. Some like to blame President Obama for this, but the real culprit here is corporate greed, and it can be traced all the way back to Reagan’s economic policies. But it is easier to blame the man in the big white house. Clinton will need to address this issue first and foremost in order to have any chance at winning a majority among the white, working-class population. On this one, Hillary would do well to combine her own platform with that of Bernie Sanders and support a significant increase in the minimum wage, universal healthcare, and the opportunity for a college education for all. Foreign policy is Hillary’s strong suit, and is at least as crucial to our survival as are domestic issues, but the majority of people are understandably more concerned with everyday concerns of putting food on the table and their kids through college. Hillary must recognize and address those concerns.
The other factor that Hillary must overcome in order to score a win in November is that of her image. She is seen as being dishonest, cold, and untrustworthy. Hillary Clinton has been in politics a long time. She has been a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and First Lady. Politicians are not known for their transparency, to put it mildly. The very things that make her more qualified for the job are the things that also make her unpopular. Though the Benghazi investigation exonerated Clinton of wrong-doing and established that nothing she could have done would have stopped the 2012 attacks, the GOP still brings it up from time to time. Then, of course, there is the ongoing e-mail issue … some would call it a ‘scandal’, but given the information available thus far, I see an issue rather than a scandal. There was no intent to defraud, no breech of national security, and no conspiracy against the country. Did Hillary use poor judgement? Of course she did, and she herself has acknowledged this. But was it ‘criminal’? No. Nonetheless, she needs to become more transparent, step up to the plate, talk to the State Department investigators and encourage her staffers to do the same. Otherwise, there will always be the presumption that she has something to hide. I do not expect that an indictment will be forthcoming, but with so many unanswered questions, the e-mail issue remains ‘the elephant in the room’.
I have no illusions that Hillary Clinton can overcome all the obstacles and regain the public trust in the next 20 weeks. However, it would be prudent of her to work toward the goals of proving that she is more qualified than her opponent and clearing some of the haze surrounding her Achilles Heel(s). To that end, there are a few things she can do:
- Be kind to Bernie. Bernie Sanders, as I have previously mentioned, ran a great race and garnered the support of many. Though some of his ideas were economically unfeasible, people were hearing what they wanted and needed to hear, and they loved Bernie. They still love Bernie. Clinton would do well to adopt some of his more viable ideas, but also to stop ‘demanding’ that Bernie drop out of the race before the convention. Bernie is no threat to Clinton, and could bring a lot of goodwill, translated into supporters, translated into votes, to the Clinton campaign. If she treats him with respect and adopts some of his ideas, giving credit where credit is due, it could be the single smartest move of her campaign.
- State clear policies. Clinton needs to play down her weaknesses and accentuate her strong suits. She has good ideas and if she compromises and incorporates some of Bernie’s better ideas into her own platform, she could increase her odds with the people who are trying to find actual policies and plans. She must have a stable, relatively moderate plan and have specific initiatives for implementation of her plan. Granted, there are those voters who could not care less and only hear what they want to hear, but many of us are like Clara Peller in the old Burger King commercials, saying “where’s the beer?” It is not enough to criticize one’s opponent, but one must also have a clear vision of their own ideology and a viable plan.
- Rebut Trump’s rhetoric. Certainly Clinton must respond to Trump’s buffoonery, but she must do so without bringing herself down to his level of brashness. She needs to remain above the fray, yet at the same time remain gracious, speak intelligently, and provide specific details as to why Trump’s ideology is unsound and what she would do differently in each specific instance. For example, Trump’s intention to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico: the idea is impractical, costly, and there is no way Mexico is going to pay for a wall they do not even want. However, the reason his idea to build that wall became so popular is because he convinced his followers that Mexican people are entering this country, stealing our jobs, raping women, and that they must, therefore, be stopped. Hillary can dispel his myth about the Mexicans who come here, then address what she would do to control illegal immigration. And she must do so without screaming and turning red in the face.
Hillary Clinton undeniably has a tarnished image and her biggest asset as far as voters are concerned may well be her opponent. I suspect that if Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush or even Marco Rubio were running against her, her odds of winning in November would be greatly reduced. But Trump has inspired so much hatred with his bombastic, bigoted bluster that it makes Hillary, despite her shortcomings, clearly the ‘lesser of two evils.” However, she cannot rest on her laurels and she is going to need all the help she can get. I hope she has good advisors, selects an inspiring running mate, and uses her natural intelligence throughout the coming five months, for Trump simply cannot be allowed to win this election!