A blogger I like and follow, Yastreblyansky, had a post the other day I haven’t been able to get off my mind. The whole thing is worth a read (as is the entirety of his blog, particularly his ritual of disposing of Brooks’s and Douthat’s asinine ideas in their weekly columns), but this bit in particular caught my attention. It’s about why he thinks Dems, liberals, and leftists in general ought to get behind Hillary already:
We have these middle-of-the-road Democratic candidates who’s disposed to listen to our concerns, and we can’t stop screaming at them for being a sellout and capitalist tool, and eventually they stop listening (FDR in 1937, when he triangulated his way into trying to balance the budget—thankfully it didn’t last too long, but he was the last Democratic president to escape from such a state, until Obama in his “no more fucks” moment). I’d like to start showing Hillary that I’m confident she can move the ACA to 100% coverage for all Americans, and raise Social Security benefits, and make the very rich pay their fair share of taxes, and bring peace to (some of) the Middle East with some kind of minimum of killing. Then maybe she’ll feel more like listening to me than to somebody who thinks she can’t.
It’s a sentiment I more or less agree with, even though I’m not thrilled with her as a candidate or a human being. But what I really question is his confidence that Hillary can do all those things. Because he’s an aging Baby Boomer who’s been around a lot longer and seen a lot more than I have at my tender age of twenty-eight, and because I at least feel like I’ve known nothing but radical, far-right Republicanism since I became conscious about politics and where and how I stood in the world, maybe he’s right to be confident. (And to be fair, how he defines his confidence might be different than the way I’m rendering it here, but the point remains.)
There are logical reasons to feel the way Yastreblyansky does, anyway. Clinton has a lot more pull with Dems and even Repubs in congress than Obama had when he gained the nomination and eventually took office—in fact, Clinton had that pull largely taken from her by Obama when superdelegates switched allegiances—so she’s unlikely to be partially stymied by her own party. She certainly has more experience than Obama and all of the Republican candidates, for better or worse. All in all, she is qualified to be president. If you were looking at resumes and could be blinded from partisan hackery, you’d put hers on top of a list of interview candidates.
But here’s why I’m not confident she’ll get much done. If the Republicans retain their hold over congress, and it generally looks like they will, I doubt there will be much beyond foreign policy they’ll let her have her way with. I really think that the overinfluential far-right Tea Partiers in congress will never, ever let the e-mail/Benghazi fiasco go. In their minds, regardless of what Gowdy or the FBI or Fox News says, Clinton is a criminal who should be in jail. Period, the end of it. And it doesn’t matter how sincerely any of them or the hopped-up far-right voters actually believe it, because it can now and forever be used as an excuse to delegitamize her. And it doesn’t even have to be that fringe. I think average Republicans hate her enough that their proxies in Washington will act on their behalf. In a nutshell, unless the Democrats can capture the senate, there won’t be a liberal agenda to speak about, much less a truly progressive one.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope a year from now someone on Twitter shoves this post in my face and tells me how dumb I was to even think it. But the Republican agenda for the last seven years has been to try and stop Obama no matter what, and since nothing ever seems to really hurt the party, they’ve no reason to switch strategies with someone they feel they have an actual reason to loathe.