Why Hillary Clinton Cannot Beat Donald Trump

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This morning, I read a fantastic article by Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs titled: Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, a Trump Nomination Means a Trump Presidency. Several months ago, I would have disagreed with this statement, but today I think it’s entirely accurate.

One thing Clinton supporters remain in complete denial about (other than the fact most Americans who don’t identify as Democrats find her to be somewhere in between untrustworthy and criminal), is that a significant number of Sanders supporters will never vote for Hillary. Forget the fact that I know a few personally, I’ve noticed several interviews with voters who proclaim Sanders to be their first choice but Trump their second. Are they just saying this or do they mean it? I think a lot of them mean it.

Mr. Robinson’s article is a brilliant deep dive into what a real life Trump vs. Clinton matchup would look like, not what clueless beltway wonks want it to look it. What emerges is a convincing case that the only person who could stand up to Trump and defeat him in November is Bernie Sanders. I agree.

So without further ado, here are a few excerpts:

Instinctively, Hillary Clinton has long seemed by far the more electable of the two Democratic candidates. She is, after all, an experienced, pragmatic moderate, whereas Sanders is a raving, arm-flapping elderly Jewish socialist from Vermont. Clinton is simply closer to the American mainstream, thus she is more attractive to a broader swath of voters. Sanders campaigners have grown used to hearing the heavy-hearted lament “I like Bernie, I just don’t think he can win.” And in typical previous American elections, this would be perfectly accurate.

But this is far from a typical previous American election. And recently, everything about the electability calculus has changed, due to one simple fact: Donald Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee for President. Given this reality, every Democratic strategic question must operate not on the basis of abstract electability against a hypothetical candidate, but specific electability against the actual Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Here, a Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton’s (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump’s strengths, whereas every one of Trump’s (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders’s strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.

Her supporters insist that she has already been “tried and tested” against all the attacks that can be thrown at her. But this is not the case; she has never been subjected to the full brunt of attacks that come in a general presidential election. Bernie Sanders has ignored most tabloid dirt, treating it as a sensationalist distraction from real issues (“Enough with the damned emails!”) But for Donald Trump, sensationalist distractions are the whole game. He will attempt to crucify her. And it is very, very likely that he will succeed.

This campaigning style makes Hillary Clinton Donald Trump’s dream opponent. She gives him an endless amount to work with. The emails, Benghazi, Whitewater, Iraq, the Lewinsky scandal, ChinagateTravelgate, the missing law firm recordsJeffrey EpsteinKissingerMarc RichHaitiClinton Foundation tax errorsClinton Foundation conflicts of interest“We were broke when we left the White House,” Goldman Sachs… There is enough material in Hillary Clinton’s background for Donald Trump to run with six times over.

Even a skilled campaigner would have a very difficult time parrying such endless attacks by Trump. Even the best campaigner would find it impossible to draw attention back to actual substantive policy issues, and would spend their every moment on the defensive. But Hillary Clinton is neither the best campaigner nor even a skilled one. In fact, she is a dreadful campaigner. She may be a skilled policymaker, but on the campaign trail she makes constant missteps and never realizes things have gone wrong until it’s too late.

Everyone knows this. Even among Democratic party operatives, she’s acknowledged as “awkward and uninspiring on the stump,” carrying “Bill’s baggage with none of Bill’s warmth.” New York magazine described her “failing to demonstrate the most elementary political skills, much less those learned at Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie.” Last year the White House was panicking at her levels of electoral incompetence, her questionable decisionmaking, and her inclination for taking sleazy shortcuts. More recently, noting Sanders’s catch-up in the polls, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin said that she was a “rotten candidate” whose attacks on Sanders made no sense, and that “at some point, you cannot blame the national mood or a poor staff or a brilliant opponent for Hillary Clinton’s campaign woes.” Yet in a race against Trump, Hillary will be handicapped not only by her feeble campaigning skills, but the fact that she will have a sour national mood, a poor staff, and a brilliant opponent.

Every Democrat should take some time to fairly, dispassionately examine Clinton’s track record as a campaigner. Study how the ‘08 campaign was handled, and how this one has gone. Assess her strengths and weaknesses with as little bias or prejudice as possible. Then picture the race against Trump, and think about how it will unfold.

It’s easy to see that Trump has every single advantage. Because the Republican primary will be over, he can come at her from both right and left as he pleases. As the candidate who thundered against the Iraq War at the Republican debate, he can taunt Clinton over her support for it. He will paint her as a member of the corrupt political establishment, and will even offer proof: “Well, I know you can buy politicians, because I bought Senator Clinton. I gave her money, she came to my wedding.” He can make it appear that Hillary Clinton can be bought, that he can’t, and that he is in charge. It’s also hard to defend against, because it appears to be partly true. Any denial looks like a lie, thus making Hillary’s situation look even worse. And then, when she stumbles, he will mock her as incompetent.

Charges of misogyny against Trump won’t work. He is going to fill the press with the rape and harassment allegations against Bill Clinton and Hillary’s role in discrediting the victims (something that made even Lena Dunham deeply queasy.) He can always remind people that Hillary Clinton referred to Monica Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony toon.” Furthermore, since Trump is not an anti-Planned Parenthood zealot (being the only one willing to stick up for women’s health in a room full of Republicans), it will be hard for Clinton to paint him as the usual anti-feminist right-winger.

Trump will capitalize on his reputation as a truth-teller, and be vicious about both Clinton’s sudden changes of position (e.g. the switch on gay marriage, plus the affected economic populism of her run against Sanders) and her perceived dishonesty. One can already imagine the monologue:

“She lies so much. Everything she says is a lie. I’ve never seen someone who lies so much in my life. Let me tell you three lies she’s told. She made up a story about how she was ducking sniper fire! There was no sniper fire. She made it up! How do you forget a thing like that? She said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the guy who climbed Mount Everest. He hadn’t even climbed it when she was born! Total lie! She lied about the emails, of course, as we all know, and is probably going to be indicted. You know she said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq! It was a lie! Thousands of American soldiers are dead because of her. Not only does she lie, her lies kill people. That’s four lies, I said I’d give you three. You can’t even count them. You want to go on PolitiFact, see how many lies she has? It takes you an hour to read them all! In fact, they ask her, she doesn’t even say she hasn’t lied. They asked her straight up, she says she usually tries to tell the truth! Ooooh, she tries! Come on! This is a person, every single word out of her mouth is a lie. Nobody trusts her. Check the polls, nobody trusts her. Yuge liar.”

Trump will bob, weave, jab, and hook. He won’t let up. And because Clinton actually has lied, and actually did vote for the Iraq War, and actually is hyper-cosy with Wall Street, and actually does change her positions based on expediency, all she can do is issue further implausible denials, which will further embolden Trump. Nor does she have a single offensive weapon at her disposal, since every legitimate criticism of Trump’s background (inconsistent political positions, shady financial dealings, pattern of deception) is equally applicable to Clinton, and he knows how to make such things slide off him, whereas she does not.

Here’s another example. If Hillary tries to hit Trump on his Mexican/Muslims comments, Trump can accurately point out she called inner city blacks “super predators.”

Nor are the demographics going to be as favorable to Clinton as she thinks. Trump’s populism will have huge resonance among the white working class in both red and blue states; he might even peel away her black support. And Trump has already proven false the prediction that he would alienate Evangelicals through his vulgarity and his self-deification. Democrats are insistently repeating their belief that a Trump nomination will mobilize liberals to head to the polls like never before, but with nobody particularly enthusiastic for Clinton’s candidacy, it’s not implausible that a large number of people will find both options so unappealing that they stay home.

Yep, many Sanders supporters will never vote for Hillary. In fact, more than a few will vote for Trump.

Trump’s various unique methods of attack would instantly be made far less useful in a run against Sanders. All of the most personal charges (untrustworthiness, corruption, rank hypocrisy) are much more difficult to make stick. The rich history of dubious business dealings is nonexistent. None of the sleaze in which Trump traffics can be found clinging to Bernie. Trump’s standup routine just has much less obvious personal material to work with. Sanders is a fairly transparent guy; he likes the social safety net, he doesn’t like oligarchy, he’s a workaholic who sometimes takes a break to play basketball, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Contrast that with the above-noted list of juicy Clinton tidbits.

Trump can’t clown around nearly as much at a debate with Sanders, for the simple reason that Sanders is dead set on keeping every conversation about the plight of America’s poor under the present economic system. If Trump tells jokes and goofs off here, he looks as if he’s belittling poor people, not a magnificent idea for an Ivy League trust fund billionaire running against a working class public servant and veteran of the Civil Rights movement. Instead, Trump will be forced to do what Hillary Clinton has been forced to do during the primary, namely to make himself sound as much like Bernie Sanders as possible. For Trump, having to get serious and take the Trump Show off the air will be devastating to his unique charismatic appeal.

Trump is an attention-craving parasite, and such creatures are powerful only when indulged and paid attention to. Clinton will be forced to pay attention to Trump because of his constant evocation of her scandals. She will attempt to go after him. She will, in other words, feed the troll. Sanders, by contrast, will almost certainly behave as if Trump isn’t even there. He is unlikely to rise to Trump’s bait, because Sanders doesn’t even care to listen to anything that’s not about saving social security or the disappearing middle class. He will almost certainly seem as if he barely knows who Trump is. Sanders’s commercials will be similar to those he has run in the primary, featuring uplifting images of America, aspirational sentiments about what we can be together, and moving testimonies from ordinary Americans. Putting such genuine dignity and good feeling against Trump’s race-baiting clownishness will be like finally pouring water on the Wicked Witch. Hillary Clinton cannot do this; with her, the campaign will inevitably descend into the gutter, and the unstoppable bloated Trump menace will continue to grow ever larger.

Of course, the American people are still jittery about socialism. But they’re less jittery than they used to be, and Bernie does a good job portraying socialism as being about little more than paid family leave and sick days (a debatable proposition, but one beside the point.) His policies are popular and appeal to the prevailing national sentiment. It’s a risk, certainly. But the Soviet Union bogeyman is long gone, and everyone gets called a socialist these days no matter what their politics. It’s possible that swing voters dislike socialism more than they dislike Hillary Clinton, but in a time of economic discontent one probably shouldn’t bet on it.

But even if it was correct to say that Sanders was “starting to” lose (instead of progressively losing less and less), this should only motivate all Democrats to work harder to make sure he is nominated. One’s support for Sanders should increase in direct proportion to one’s fear of Trump. And if Trump is the nominee, Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race and throw her every ounce of energy into supporting Sanders. If this does not occur, the resulting consequences for Muslims and Mexican immigrants of a Trump presidency will be fully the responsibility of Clinton and the Democratic Party. To run a candidate who can’t win, or who is a very high-risk proposition, is to recklessly play with the lives of millions of people. So much depends on stopping Trump; a principled defeat will mean nothing to the deported, or to those being roughed up by Trump’s goon squads or executed with pigs’ blood-dipped bullets.

Trump vs. Clinton will appear to most Americans as a choice between something new and risky, and something old and corrupt. In 2016, who do you think the public will choose?

If Democrats foolishly nominate Hillary Clinton, they will be the only ones to blame for a Trump Presidency.

For related articles, see:

Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton on Freedom of Speech – A Side By Side Comparison

The REAL Donald Trump – A Fascinating Interview of the Man from 1990

Trump Sides with the FBI Against Apple; On Torture Proclaims “Water Boarding Is Fine but Not Tough Enough”

Donald Trump the Demagogue

A New Low – Hillary Clinton Claims 9/11 is the Reason She’s Owned by Wall Street

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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31 Comments

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  1. There is a far more important issue involved here than just the “differences” between the Republican candidates and Hillary and that is her overall ability to function under pressure. The Benghazi issue pointedly reveals her, under pressure, as being distraught, disheveled and fanatic—and not above lying to defend her position. Compare those responses to the calm and collected manner President George Bush displayed at the school he was at, when he was advised of the Twin Towers Bombing.—-those kinds of critical issues are frequent for the occupant of the Oval Office. Also, about half of the world’s population in now under the control or influence of the Muslims—-and they believe that all women are inferior to men. Hillary just could not hold her own at a negotiating table with the Muslims. That has already been clearly revealed—and most of this planet’s problems involve those of Islamic Faith. Hillary is far cry from being a “Margaret H. Thatcher” (the ex- “PM” of Great Britain)—and it appears her political “closet” is stuffed with all kinds of serious “skeletons”. .

    • Gee whiz, Bush was calm and collected because he knew in advance it was going to happen. Do me a favor. Go back and find a statement by the first Bush or by George W or by Jeb where they repudiated Prescott Bush for his support of Nazi Germany. Hint: you won’t find their repudiation or apology. They are one-worlders and they will do anything to destroy the sovereignty of the US while exalting a world government, in which, of course, they and their clan will find perches at the top.

    • Are you serious? They grilled her for 11 hours and she held her own and showed them to be the buffoons they are. You swallow too much propaganda-do you seriously believe for one minute that had they found one thing to convict her on they wouldn’t have ran with it? And as one of their own admitted-it was a Witch Hunt, designed to bring her down. As for the nonsense about Bush under pressure-are you kidding me? It was one of two things 1. Either as someone stated earlier-it was because he already knew it was going to happen or 2. It was his usual dumbfounded look of stupidity. Either way, to even attempt to compare him to Hillary is laughable, at best. She has been conducting business with many Muslims for years-I don’t think that she will have a problem in that area. And again, if, by skeletons you mean all the lies and false accusations aka Witch Hunts thrown her way over and over I would say that she is pretty damned resilient and has handled them all with professionalism and grace.

    • Michele, I beg to differ. Hillary did not “hold her own”, in any of the confrontations and did not conduct herself in a “presidential manner”—hardly the expected demeanor of a possible future president. Also, if President Bush “knew in advance”, and “we now know it”, would have resulted in either congress or the FBI carrying him off for interrogation—spelled, “impeachment”. Hillary (and Bill) have not changed their “MOs” since before he was a governor. And, if Hillary were to be elected, would “Bill” actually be “running” the Oval Office?—-he at least, would have a significant “influence” on what would transpire there.

    • Not above lying is the understatement of the century. LOL

  2. mike you’re totally wrong on this. i go to republican events in new york.

    the main stream core of the party machine will do everything to stop trump from becoming president, this includes using the corrupt gears of the machine to make sure hillary wins if trump indeed does become the nominee.

    this is why hillary secretly wants trump to win. he is the only republican running against the machine. all the others could actually beat hillary because like her, they are machine candidates. so it doesn’t matter to the machine if they beat her. trump most likely will be stopped if he even so far as reaches the general elections.

    i however, am supporting trump and believe he still has an 8% chance to beat clinton in the runoff assuming he wins the primary. so there’s an 8% chance that somehow state elections comittees and enemies of the clintons and others do enough to stop the machine from rigging the election against an actual machine challenger.

  3. One thing I don’t understand about Americans who come to websites like these ie. Americans who realize their country has been corrupted through and through at the top, is that you still believe that the voting-round you do every four years somehow is not corrupted. Even though history has shown that whomever gets the most money gets the presidency.

    Can someone please explain to me how this works, how can you believe to live in a banana-republic but also believe the voting isn’t rigged?

    To me this sounds like cognitive dissonance. Please correct if I am wrong.

    Last question, can you vote blank in the US, and do many people do it?

    • Klutsei, come on, “cognitive dissonance”? Get your head out of the dictionary and determine who are you readers—-you should be speaking “to” them and not “down”, to them. And, even though when your readers resort to the dictionary, they come away even more confused as you have mixed metaphors—as I am doing. Ciao

  4. Former Mexican President to Trump: ‘I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall’

  5. Insightful, but fails to account for the fact that voting makes no difference – an illusion for a gullible nation to swallow.

    Witness Hillary’s loss in every state so far.

    Yet she ‘won’?

    “It’s not the vote that counts, it’s who counts the votes” ~ Stalin

    ‘DIEBOLD: “Because democracy is too important to leave to chance”.

    You MUST understand that Hillary has already been ‘chosen’ as president, as she has ALL the ‘qualities’ necessary to be a modern US leader; Murderous, totally corrupt, immoral, fraudulent, deceitful, a complete liar, manipulative, 2-faced, and has sworn total fealty to our owner – Israel (as well Shrump and the others).

    “Madam President”

    Accept or revolt.

    • “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

      If, as you say, the voting is irrelevant, why have BOTH parties been working so hard to prevent progressives from voting? Because if it becomes obvious, if peaceful revolution is impossible. Then non-peaceful revolution, as done by the French, not as done by the Americans, WILL happen. Remember, the Americans let the British go home, lick their wounds, and keep building their empire. The French beheaded their kings.That is something “the Machine” wants to avoid at all costs, because their necks are still vulnerable.
      I have no problem with either form of revolution. Hell, I’d build the guillotine. But a wise man saves final solutions until there is no other solution left. Defeatist statements that we have no voice, no solution, are at best, premature. At worst, they are giving the machine exactly the victory they want.

  6. It was the CLINTONS who pushed NAFTA through Congress and opened the floodgates of American jobs flowing overseas. . The massive trade pact was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on January 1, 1994 And AWAY went your good paying JOBS.

    It was the CLINTONS who destroyed Glass-Steagal and opened the floodgates of BANKER CORRUPTION and Working Class Home destruction A lot of blame has sloshed around for the sub-prime meltdown, from greedy borrowers to greedy mortgage brokers to Alan Greenspan, but if you want the real culprit, it was the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act. On November 12, 1999, Glass-Steagall was passed under the Roosevelt administration in 1933 in direct response to the Wall Street shenanigans that ushered in the Great Depression where banks shoved their own depositors into buying the stocks the banks were dealing. Its repeal, under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, drafted and passed by a Republican congress, AND SIGNED BY William Jefferson Clinton,

  7. There is a major flaw in the analysis; HRC’s “moderate” policies are too far right of the general populace. Bernie’s rhetoric resonates BECAUSE he is speaking for the populace. You HAVE to be a populist in order to be “mainstream” with the public. HRC is “mainstream” with the ruling class.

  8. “a significant number of Sanders supporters will never vote for Hillary. ”

    VERY foolish people indeed. I am a Sanders supporter by the way….with mouth AND money.

  9. Hey Fox you buffoon, Trump is an American first. The legal Hispanics that want Trump don’t want their rights evaporated into thin air by an open border where more illegals are taking everyone’s money from THEIR social security and benefits into eternity.

  10. A thoughtful and better title would be, “Why Hillary and Trump Cannot Beat Bernie Sanders and Why They Shouldn’t. ” Let us count the ways!!!!!! Hundreds.

  11. It’s either Bernie Sanders or nobody. Hillary works for Wall Street, her history is one of abject corporate puppetry against the citizens of the United States for the further enrichment of the parasite wealthy elite, she is a 1%er who does not give one good crap about you, me, or our country. Same for Trump. Same for any politician other than Sanders.

    A vote for Hillary or any other politician other than Bernie Sanders is a vote for Wall Street, so overwhelmingly Sanders supporters will either be writing in his name if the DNC fails to nominate him, or they will not be voting at all.

    By the way, the idea that not voting is some how a “vote for the other side” is a logic fallacy, but that’s the argument that Wall Street encourages people to believe and propagate — literally from Latin “propagatus” propaganda, to plant seeds of ideas.

    The fact that so far Sanders beats all politicians — Hilary, all Republicans, everyone — is being ignored by the DNC who has already stated that they will be using their “super delegates” against us and will be nominating their Wall Street puppet. The DNC has received their orders from Wall Street and they have stated they will obey, what actual citizens want is irrelevant.

  12. Terrific article. You give me hope yet!

  13. It’s all speculation on the fact that a Trump presidency would be bad.
    Maybe a Sanders Presidency would be bad or far worse.
    I doubt Sanders could accomplish anything as president since he would never ever get any of his looney policies passed.

    • Ed the Waterguy, Bernie Sanders’ campaign has already addressed that issue. If you talk to many of his devoted followers, you’ll find that we are aware that the current occupiers of congress need to be shuffled with new faces and are ready to use our hive mentality, joined voice & vote to elect new congressional representation consisting of candidates more sympathetic to Bernies’ (& the peoples’) cause.

  14. It is not the Republican establishment that seeks to hijack Trump’s nomination, it is the Republican-Democrat hidden elite. (no, this is not conspiracy, it is well known in the smart circles but not covered by MSM)

    Notwithstanding the soft populism of Bernie Sanders, the pathway for a Hillary Clinton victory has been set up just as Mitt Romney was never a sincere rival of Obama back in the rigged 2012 elections. A house divided on petty issues of personality is certainly a nation distracted into irrelevance.

  15. Herr Trumpf couldn’t beat my cat Boomer in a general election. One third of the American electorate might like to gush fascistic over the dinner table, but they’re not going to vote for one, and even if they do, 33% isn’t sufficient to win an election.

  16. Never voted for a democrat.. But to help bring down this whole ponzi scheme known as the US ECONOMY… I will vote for Sanders.. Then we can be assured it all collapses .. And profit nicely on the stupidity of the masses

  17. I totally agree with the author and just want to add more here. Both democratic party and republican party have stopped working for American working class. Both Sanders and Trump are outsiders trying to get their voices out through the two parties. They both resonate with majority Americans and spark national anger against the old and corrupted establishments. Most likely,Trump will become the next US president. Democrats are not smart enough to run Sanders who can beat Trump. But the secrete government or the real government behind the scenes cannot wait to jump out and try to stop Trump. I hope that Americans will have their government this time, not puppet anymore.

  18. Hillary doesn’t do so well against Cruz or Kasich either, while Sanders does.

  19. I thoroughly enjoyed Nathan Robinson’s article. I thought he made some excellent points. I also think it’s only the tip of the iceberg as to why Hillary would lose to Trump.

  20. It’s truly disgusting how whites, whom will bear no ill effects from a Drumpf presidency, would rather split the Democratic Party down the middle by writing in a candidate thus handing the presidency to Drumpf. You don’t have to be concerned because Drumpf & his SS squads won’t be targeting any of you! Just the brown people he clearly has shown that he & his supporters hate with the very fiber of their being!

  21. Trump and Sanders will make politics think outside the box!

  22. I read down through the comments and as usual Clinton supporters are still in denial… That or this whole thread is just more of her paid Panama trolls. Either way enjoy President Trump if you vote for Clinton because Sanders supporters will NOT VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON. PERIOD!

    If you believe the stupid propaganda that Sanders supporters are bailing to go to her.. You have never bothered to TALK to one

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