When FBI Director James Comey recommended the government bring no criminal charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a personal email server while secretary of state, he removed the last serious obstacle to her becoming the first woman president of the United States. As genuinely disliked as she is by voters (56 percent disapprove), Donald Trump, who lurches from embarrassment to embarrassment like a drunk stumbling through a restaurant knocking over every table in his path to the bathroom, inspires even more contempt.
And therein lies a problem for Clinton. Now that her path to the White House is clear, her absolute lack of an original, coherent, compelling vision for 21st-century America will move front and center. Love her or loath her, we voters deserve better than a figure who has spent a quarter-century in the public eye and yet has had to go on more “listening tours” than musicologist Harry Smith ever did. She is forever “reintroducing” herself to the American people because she is an empty pantsuit except when it comes to her sense of historical destiny and righteousness.
For better and mostly worse, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have at least laid out bold, sweeping platforms that would radically change the status quo at a time when fully two-thirds of us believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Clinton has simply indulged in lame me-tooism, strategic vagueness and flip-floppery, and a willingness to manage Barack Obama’s third term for him.
Clinton has never been a socially progressive candidate, still opposing marijuana legalization and only coming out for marriage equality in 2013. Her favorable views toward immigrants are of equally recent vintage as well. She supported her husband's anti-immigrant positions back in the 1990s and ran for Senate in New York as hostile to everything approaching amnesty for illegals. As a member of the Obama administration, she stood by as the president deported record numbers of migrants.
When Sanders pushed for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, Clinton rolled her eyes and opted instead for a more-modest $12 version (that both figures are stupid is beside the point). As Donald Trump powerfully (and stupidly) attacked free-trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Clinton shushed him and then embraced exactly the same protectionist positions even though 56 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters believe such deals “have been a good thing” for the country. She rightly notes that Donald Trump is a know-nothing when it comes to the Constitution yet agrees in almost exactly the same language that social media platforms should do the government's bidding and restrict free speech in the name of the war on terror.
As Obamacare limps along with a 49 percent disapproval rating (47 percent say they like it), Clinton says she wants to stick with it. She similarly voices continued support for banking regulations that have actually increased concentration in the financial industry and has laid out plans to jack up federal spending from a well-above-average 22.1 percent of GDP to a mind-boggling 22.7 percent of GDP. As the Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget notes, her unwillingness to reduce spending, reform entitlements, and attack the national debt virtually guarantees weak economic growth for decades. Despite overwhelming anti-war sentiments among Democrats and independents after 15 years of failed intervention after failed intervention, she remains an unreconstructed hawk.
This goopy mélange of positions may be enough to win in an election where Donald Trump is her main challenger, but it shouldn't be confused with anything approaching leadership, statesmanship, or vision. No wonder her supporters are quick to judge her not on the quality of her ideas but on the content of her resume.
America is floundering in the 21st century, the victim of indefensible foreign policy that Clinton herself helped to mis-execute; of out-of-control government spending and regulatory excess under successive Republican and Democratic presidents that has dampened economic growth by 50 percent compared to post-war averages; and a hollowing out of faith in government due to endless scandals and malfeasance stemming from plutocratic contempt for transparency on the part of our leaders (something else with which Clinton is familiar).
So when Hillary Clinton ascends the throne next January, the least we can do as a serious people is to acknowledge that a person who hates the sharing economy—one of the few bright spots in the economy—is a time-server at best, an enemy of our future at worst.
And we'd do well to remember the last president who lacked the "vision thing" and got elected on the strength of his resume. That would be George H.W. Bush, whose single term as president was nobody's idea of a success. Bush was the end of the line, not the start of something. He was the last president from the Depression era and the last to have fought in World War II. He was clearly unprepared for the post-Cold War world that began under his presidency. In a similar way, the 2016 election will likely be the last in which a Baby Boomer becomes president (here's hoping, anyway). That is as it should be, as both Clinton and Trump, despite claims to the contrary, are relics of the past, not heralds of the future.