Why Hillary Clinton Will Not Defeat Donald Trump


You can escort a single problematic heckler from a town hall meeting, but you can't escort 250,000 angry voters off Twitter.

When 23-year-old Ashley Williams interrupted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a campaign fundraiser Feb. 24, Clinton stalled long enough for her security people to nudge Williams out of the room.

It was too late. Williams already got her message across, with a sign reminding Americans of a particularly racist comment the candidate made years ago, and the Twitter hashtag #WhichHillary.

Soon the #WhichHillary hashtag became so popular, the traffic literally caused network problems for the social media giant, reports The Huffington Post. And that quote?

"We have to bring them to heel," Clinton said in 1996, describing urban youth as "superpredators" with "no conscience" and "no empathy."

Bringing to heel literally means forcing an animal to obey. It's most commonly associated with dog trainers instructing owners on how to compel their pets to follow commands. Applied to people, it conjures images of slave masters cracking whips and treating human beings like chattel.

That's not a good look for a candidate who wants voters to see her as a populist.

Perhaps most distressing for Clinton is the fact that these are her allies. Traditionally, her enemies are the "vast rightwing conspiracy" as she likes to call them. Democratic rallies are her home turf. African-Americans are voters she takes for granted. Hecklers aren't supposed to make it past security at campaign events, where participants are usually hand-selected for their worshipful view of the perennial candidate.

A day after Williams derailed Clinton's fundraiser, The New York Times editorial board -- which has long been friendly to Clinton and had endorsed her as a senate candidate -- ran a critical opinion piece asking Clinton to release the transcripts of her controversial speeches to Wall Street banks.

Polls meant to measure hypothetical match-ups show Clinton about 3 points ahead of the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, according to Real Clear Politics.

But if Clinton's campaign is taking a beating on home turf, among people who generally like her, how will she fare against a general electorate that consistently affirms it doesn't trust her and doesn't like her?

By contrast, Trump is like Teflon. There are big differences between the statements of Trump the Real Estate Magnate and Trump the Candidate. Whether it's fair or not, voters are giving the Republican candidate a pass, perhaps because he hasn't been a politician and policymaker for 30 years. He doesn't have a senate voting record at odds with his campaign positions. Unlike Clinton, he's not financed by Wall Street, and he doesn't have a foundation that takes checks from the Saudis.

Trump's battle for the nomination is also different than Clinton's. Trump doesn't claim to be an archconservative. He freely admits to liberal positions on some issues, and opponents have been unsuccessful in attacking his Republican credentials. The result is that he hasn't had to shift right to appeal to the party base.

Clinton is dealing with a challenger who represents her party's core ideology better than she does. At least, that's the perception. So to fend off attacks from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an admitted, unapologetic socialist, Clinton has taken several sharp left turns as she tries to convince the Democratic base that she's really not a Wall Street puppet and establishment candidate.

The problem is that general elections are won by candidates who appear centrist. That's what Bill Clinton did in 1992, when he campaigned as a Democrat who vowed to reform welfare and balance the budget, priorities usually reserved for Republican candidates.

If Hillary Clinton is forced to endorse the Black Lives Matter movement, or adopt extreme left positions to prove to her base that she's worthy of their support, she will have a difficult time moving back to the center by the time Americans go to the voting booth in November. Any concessions to the hard left will also provide prime video clips for Republicans to use against her in campaign ads.

Neither Clinton nor Trump are locks for their respective parties yet. Neither of them have the delegates, or the benefit of mathematical certainty. But if both candidates earn party nominations, Trump will have an easier time moving to the center and courting the independent voters needed to win.

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Sources: Marquette Law School Poll, Real Clear Politics, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The New York Times / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons 1/2

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