The 2016 election will not produce a ‘president of the American people’

The 2016 election will not produce a ‘president of the American people’

At a campaign rally last month, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton told an enthusiastic crowd that her goal as president would be to “fight for all Americans.” It’s an interesting boast, if you think about it, because of the question it logically poses: “Fight whom?”

She answered that question in last night’s debate, in the first question of the evening, which focused on the kind of Supreme Court each candidate envisioned. Here is what she said:

You know, I think when we talk about the Supreme Court, it really raises the central issue in this election. Namely, what kind of country are we going to be? What kind of opportunities will we provide for our citizens? What kind of rights will Americans have? And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people. Not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy. For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system. I have major disagreements with my opponent about these issues and others that will be before the Supreme Court. But I feel that at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade, that we stand up against Citizens United, we stand up for the rights of people in the workplace, that we stand up and basically say, the Supreme Court should represent all of us. That’s how I see the court.

So much for unifying the nation (another goal she has articulated) and representing “all of us.” To see how cynical and dishonest her outlook is, take just one issue — the Citizens United ruling — which Clinton mentioned twice. If you read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, or any of the other media outlets that Clinton would cite as sources, the American people hate Citizens United. But do they? Right after the high court’s ruling in 2010, Gallup noted:

Fifty-seven percent of Americans consider campaign donations to be a protected form of free speech, and 55% say corporate and union donations should be treated the same way under the law as donations from individuals are.

Don’t get me wrong. Donald Trump would not be the voice of all Americans either. That is because the nation is more bitterly divided than probably at any previous time in its history, possibly with the exception of the Civil War. This is largely a result of eight years of the most divisive president ever to serve. This is a man who rode to fame on a bald-faced lie that there is “no Blue America or red America but only the United States of America” — a man who has made an art from of partisanship and mockery of those who fail to share his radical views.

At the risk of hyperbole, I submit that the nation is at war. Whoever is elected 19 days from now will not be the President of the United States. That person will be the leader of a subset of Americans whose interests he or she will jealously guard at the displeasure of the rest. I don’t know if this will be a first, but I fear that it will be a last.

Pray that I’m wrong.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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