September 1, 2016
By Michael Drohan
I can feel those blues coming on, even though it is still three months until the election. While one cannot preclude any kind of unforeseen circumstance arising, it would appear at this moment that the Trump phenomenon will in one way or another self-destruct. The big question is whether it will bring down with it a considerable part of his party or not. In any event, Hillary would seem to be on a kind of home run, although, as I said, there are lots of possibilities for bombshells to fall between now and November 8th.
In the event of a Hillary victory, what then can we expect? Unlike Trump, she has a record from which we may with fair certainty deduce what is likely during her stewardship. Maureen Dowd, in a recent column, ridiculed the Republican establishment for their wailing about not having a worthy candidate. They have the perfect one, she says, and that is Hillary. She goes on, “they already have a 1-percenter…, someone they can trust to help Wall Street, boost the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cuddle the hedge funds, secure the trade deals beloved by corporate America, seek guidance from Henry Kissinger and hawk it up –unleashing hell on Syria and heaven knows where else.”
The estimation of many political pundits is that Hillary will lean more and more towards the alienated mainstream neo-con element in the Republican Party, aggrieved by the Trump ascendancy in their party. They are the ones who need wooing and they have to get payback. On the other hand, it would seem likely that Bernie, his platform, and supporters, will be just taken for granted, as they have already pledged their allegiance to her. So this is pretty much what we have to expect in the days and years ahead.
To see a silver lining in this likely scenario and outcome of the political process is not easy.
However, there may be one, and it is that the Hillary agenda and course will arouse and stimulate resistance and mobilization for justice. With Barack Obama and his policy of hope we can believe in, there was a certain amount of euphoria and his past history gave some credibility to our hopes. With Hillary, however, we have to be pretty inattentive not to know what to expect. On the war and peace front, if the past is any indicator of what we may anticipate, it is plunging deeper and deeper into the big muddy. On many fronts, especially Syria, Iran and Russia, we can expect much bellicosity, if not war, from our first woman Commander-in-Chief. The moral of this story is that the peace and anti-war constituency has to start organizing and positioning on this front. We should know what to expect.
On the social and economic front, either the Sanders or the Stein platform express what most progressives would subscribe to and fight for. However, these platforms are riding on the demands of social movements such as the Occupy Movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Fight for $15 campaign, the environmental and climate justice movements, the police accountability struggles and on and on. The number of Senators or Congress-people who have made any of these demands a priority are few and far between. Furthermore, simply putting them on the platform of a Presidential candidate is a far cry from making them policy. Witness the pushback that Obama received with the Affordable Care Act, in trying to get a very moderate extension of health care benefits to all, and then imagine the struggle we can anticipate to get single-payer healthcare. The odds against are tremendous.
There are several takeaways from this analysis. The first is that it is movements of the people which will bring about radical social change and we have to be grateful to the Sanders and Stein campaigns for articulating our agenda. A second takeaway is that our state and federal legislatures need a thorough flushing. Congress-people of the caliber of Mike Doyle, John Lewis, Keith Ellison and Barbara Lee are few and far between. Cleaning house is going to be a long and arduous task. But the most important takeaway is that we are the change we have been looking for and it will happen only if we double down on our activism and involvement. The only check on overseas adventurism and uninhibited corporate power is people power.
Michael Drogan is a member of the Editorial Collective and of the Board of the Thomas Merton Center.