- FORTUNATELY for Hillary Clinton, who to her credit has never concealed her hunger for the Oval Office, most voters in the US act on the bass of hype rather than fact. President William Jefferson Clinton was brutal on the old, because of the fact that the favours he did for Wall Street such as the removal of the Glass-Steagal act resulted in millions of them losing much of their savings because of chicanery by financial conglomerates. As for African-Americans, besides the public hugs and expressions of concern, Clinton did little for them. Black Americans are much poorer now than they were when Bill Clinton was in office (1992-2001). However, he smiles and the hugs seem to have been enough, as this important segment of US voters is overwhelmingly in favour of Hillary Clinton rather than the candidate whose election would actually help them, Bernie Sanders.
Airline companies are loath to hire the spouses of even their ace pilots to fly aircraft, as hospitals are of asking the wives of surgeons to don surgical masks and conduct operations, but millions of voters seem to have bought the Clinton line that being the wife of a US President is little different from the point of view of accumulation of experience than holding the job itself. Of course, Hillary Clinton was a US Senator as well as Secretary of State during the first,” Clinton Lite” term of Barack Obama, but her record in the first job was unspectacular while in the second, she was a disaster, going wholly wrong in making judgement calls on Egypt, Syria, Libya and much else.
The sole beneficiary of her term in office as Secretary was a clutch of “human rights” NGOs with unrealistic prescriptions which proved disastrous when followed by the adoring Mrs Clinton friends recently in Iowa say that the Democratic Party organisation there was completely in the Clinton pocket, and succeeded in converting what ought to have been a win for Bernie Sanders into a narrow win for Hillary Clinton, through a Florida-style misuse of their powers and access to caucus. Apparently, there was non-stop communication between Hillary strategists and key Democratic Party office-holders in Iowa such that both worked hard at securing a decisive win for the matriarch of the Democratic Party’s most influential family. The Clintons have built up not merely a personal fortune but also a machine expert in trashing opponents and promoting the interests of Hillary Clinton through whatever means come to hand.
It was a shock to them that even the connivance of local officials could not secure anything other than the most humiliating of “wins” for the former First Lady of the United Stares, who is famous in India for her love of Mughlai cooking, to which she was probably introduced by long-time assistant Huma Abedin, among the most effective personal staffers of any political leader in the US, who is known to have strong views on world leaders (including Prime Minister Modi of India) and has been very successful in grafting those views onto Hillary Clinton, whose roster of close friends includes Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Hope is the small town in Arkansas in which Bill Clinton was born, and the hope for the highest office in what is still the world’s most influential country has never dimmed in Hillary Clinton, who resigned as Secretary of State three years ago to avoid making more obvious errors such as her refusal to upgrade security at Benghazi in Libya despite several warnings of an imminent attack by the very elements she had helped weaponise, train and fund in 2011 while Secretary of State.
Almost before she had left the State Department, Hillary began to work towards becoming the “inevitable” Democratic Party nominee for the 2016 Presidential poll, with a dutiful President Obama and a devoted ex-President Clinton giving her support in a manner not enjoyed by any previous candidate for the highest office of the world’s most powerful democracy. Her “Super Pac” financial backers and highly-paid staff ensured that every word she uttered was vetted to conform to the liking of key segments of the Democratic vote bank. Senator Bernie Sanders was ignored as being “too radical” for US voters. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, the steady impoverishment of the lower and middle classes since the close of the 1980s got coupled with explosive growth in the wealth of the top 1% of the population. Ordinary people have never had it so bad in the US since the 1930s,while millionaires have never had it so good. This has resulted in a revulsion towards the “establishment” politics and economics practiced by the Clintons, and has given an opportunity to Bernie Sanders to try and win the Democratic Party nomination.
Because of the Wall Street-created economic hardship of tens of millions of US citizens, he is in danger of overtaking Hillary Clinton in the party primaries. Only African-Americans and old people stand between Mrs Clinton and defeat. Both segments have ignored the reality that Sanders would be a better bet for them, and have flocked towards the Clintons. Will they realize their mistake in time and desert the Clinton camp? This question will be answered by the close of March, when the result of the primaries becomes clear on the Republican side, the party establishment is hoping that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida will overtake Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. The problem is that Rubio and Cruz are Cuban-American, not a Mexican-American, and hence not likely to be accepted as a full Hispanic by the latter group, thereby opening the door to the Democratic Party (non-Hispanic) candidate.
As for Donald Trump, his shock defeat in Iowa has energized the establishment press, who have poured abuse on him to an extent seldom seen in Presidential contests in the US. However, he is still by far the strongest candidate, and in the elections, has the advantage over Hillary Clinton. However, should he be facing Bernie Sanders, and should the economy worsen in the months ahead, the US may elect its first “socialist” President ever. Should Sanders persist while in office with his equalitarian policies, he may meet the same fate of President Kennedy, who was seeking to withdraw US troops from Vietnam and work out a detente with the USSR, much to the anger of what President Eisenhower termed the “military-industrial complex”.
Just as politicians of extreme views have begun to emerge in Europe, so have they in the US. Politics as usual is, as the Italians say, finito. US policy post-Obama will be very different from what it has been for the past thirty years, unless African-Americans and older voters come out (and the young stay away) in numbers sufficient to elect Hillary Clinton to the job held for eight years in the 1990s by her husband.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.