It is more than mere idle speculation to consider what would happen if Donald Trump were facing Hillary Clinton today instead of on that historic day of reckoning, November 8, 2016. It is worthwhile taking a moment to ponder how Clinton would fare against Trump in the thing she has likely dreamed of often since her shattering defeat at the hands of a long-shot outsider with no political experience: a do-over.
You will likely ask why we would bother engaging in idle spitballing over the increasingly distant memory of an election almost four years in the rearview mirror. Well, for one reason: Joe Biden is the logical, letter-perfect successor to the Democrats’ quintessential establishment candidate of 2016. Who better than Joe Biden to channel Hillary Clinton as this year’s fraternal twin, separated-at-birth male version of everything that screams establishment, Swamp, and status quo?
Hillary’s Natural Successor
You will recall that the political and media establishments framed the 2016 election as the logical dynastic successor – swatting away a loudmouth pretender to the throne. It was Clinton, the de facto heavyweight champ, taking on the low-class palooka Trump, who would have nothing more than the proverbial puncher’s chance to prevail. But punch he did, all the way to the White House.
Wait, you say. Why would the Democratic Party want to pick a candidate so similar to the one who turned out to be a disaster of epic proportions in the last presidential race? Well, that’s the $64,000 question now, isn’t it? Despite a 29-candidate field replete with angry progressives pulling the party ever leftward, and the broadest range of demographics in the history of electoral politics, they are set to nominate a man who, exactly like Hillary, is attached to the discredited DC political establishment by an umbilical cord.
And Ole Joe can’t even claim to be the first black, like his benefactor Obama, or the first woman, like his ideological soul sister Clinton, on the brink of elevation to the highest office in the land. And yet most polls, as in 2016, are telling us he is likely to sweep to victory just like Secretary Clinton.
Oh wait, she didn’t.
Just how much has the nation changed in these last four years – or just since the start of this unforgettable 2020 marked by pandemic, economic peril, and riots throughout the land? Has the voters’ roll of the dice on Donald Trump in 2016 turned out to be most of what they hoped for or expected? Or has the non-stop political tumult of the Trump era caused enough voters to reconsider their choice? After all, those voters picked a bombastic, break-the-furniture flamethrower over a woman who on paper – first lady, senator, secretary of state – was arguably the most qualified nominee ever to seek the presidency.
What Would Clinton Do?
Would President Hillary Clinton have exercised superior stewardship to Trump during the daily crisis presented by a highly infectious virus and consequent shuttering of major portions of the economy? Would she have used better judgment on re-opening and reclaiming lost jobs than the man who beat her? Would she, as a Democrat, unlike Trump, have been able to bring the intransigent mayors of major cities to heel in thwarting the present insurrection?
Are these even the right questions to ask when considering a do-over of 2016? Perhaps the underlying economy, which until March of 2020 would have been the number one issue in this election, would be a more significant factor than we might imagine in the midst of multiple national crises. Health care, already a primary concern of voters, would undoubtedly play a key role. China could also be a critical factor – and one where Trump and Clinton/Biden offer typically opposite positions – Trump picking a fight with the Chinese, Clinton/Biden a long-time advocate of establishment policy towards China.
In the end, imagining a rematch of 2016 allows one to realize that it would likely produce the same result as Trump vs. Biden on November 3. After all, Trump hasn’t changed, and, judging by its presumptive presidential nominee – new boss, same as the old boss – neither has the Democratic Party.
Read more from Tim Donner.