Carl Sacklen

Progressive or Unproductive?

With the surprise Brexit vote in mind it seems slightly risky to presume that the victor of the 2016 presidential election will be Hillary Clinton, but following the Trump tapes and his sinking polling figures, it’s unlikely that Donald Trump will be sitting in the Oval Office anytime soon. There are arguably two scenarios to the next presidential term. The Clinton presidency could be the most progressive term yet, or the least. Both are possible, and here’s why.

The first alternative is that Hillary Clinton’s term would be one under which huge social progress takes place; more so than Obama’s terms. If Trump pulls the whole GOP chamber majorities down with him – and makes Republican a dirty word – Clinton would have two years before the next mid-terms to push through a progressive legislative agenda including immigration reform, increased spending on infrastructure, and a more Democrat-leaning Supreme Court. These are things that Obama has been unable to do following the domination of Congress by the Republicans and the Senate’s reluctance to consider Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court position. This would be fantastic, but nearly 40% of the American electorate would feel bulldozed by a hostile government agenda. This would mean that there could be an even greater surge of populism at the next election following greater polarisation in American politics.

The second alternative makes Obama’s recent situation pale in comparison. Because many would vote for Clinton because “she’s not Trump”, she could face an even stronger conservative majority in both chambers. This would be an aggressive gridlock far beyond the “invitation to struggle” that the founding fathers could possibly have imagined, and would be in direct retaliation to the fact that although she is a very talented politician, Clinton is mistrusted and disliked. We would quite possibly see a greater number executive actions in order to evade the checks and balances of the legislature which would play directly into the hands of those who still cling to the belief that Clinton is crooked and illegitimate. We could expect to see more government shutdowns as gridlock makes politics grind to a halt, and even attempts at impeachment.

The way it looks now, if Clinton is the next leader of the US, she’ll begin doing so from a very weak position. Several millions would believe their president belongs behind bars, and this weakened position at home could have severe impacts on her ability to stand up to aggressive nations like Russia and China; it would be too risky. In this scenario, American society could potentially become more divided, and America itself less relevant on the world stage.