Sam Smith – While it is easy to see this election only in its obvious depressing terms, there are surprisingly positive things lurking around that could become of significance if Hillary Clinton is elected. This is not due to Clinton, who indeed has most of the faults that have been ascribed to her, but rather to the nature of the battlefield her election creates. There is a strong chance that she will be reacting to forces putting pressure on her of a sort we haven’t seen with such power in decades. This could be a similar environment to what Lyndon Johnson faced in the 1960s, and – as a result – a one time segregationist helped provide the best civil rights legislation in over a century as well as much other positive legislation.
It helps to understand that Clinton doesn’t really exist; she merely reflects what power she finds around her and how best she thinks she should react to it. To a degree mightily obscured by the Trump campaign, if elected she will be surrounded by people who couldn’t win the nomination but who may win the post-election.
Sanders is already having an effect in this manner. As James Downie wrote in the Washingotn Post:
Sanders’s surprisingly successful campaign shifted the policy debate in the United States. He proved what activists have been arguing for years: There is a strong constituency for progressive ideas such as a higher minimum wage, breaking up the big banks and an expansive effort to make college tuition free for millions of Americans. Thanks to Sanders’s efforts, they are part of the most progressive Democratic platform ever.
Clinton can win the election but Sanders and his allies can redefine the political world in which she operates.
There are other factors. Trump’s support in no small part comes from those who, because of their age, are running out of power steam. The difference – often as high as 20 points – between his and Clinton’s supporters is a major hopeful clue to the near future.
There are other hints. I was stunned by news that the ecological organization 350 as well as the American Friends Service Committee had endorsed the platform of Black Lives matter, a sort of fusion activism we haven’t seen in decades. What if – as has been suggested here from time to time – more progressive groups come together to redefine their cause and the future?
So put aside all your justifiable complaints about Clinton and vote for her anyway. If I’m wrong, you will at least save important rights of blacks, latinos, labor and women in Supreme Court decisions. And if I’m right we could be starting an era with as much as, orat least some of, the change as the 1960s.
Remember progress is he result of activism and movements. Politics is merely one of the tools of change these movements use. It doesn’t create change; it just lets it into the system.
Hillary Clinton won’t solve our problems, but if we’re strong enough and mindful enough, she’ll see us coming and open the door.