Clinton, an option for conservatives

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Cartoon by Black Tomczak

Cartoon by Blake Tomczak

Primary season is the Hunger Games of American presidential politics. With each Republican culling, the options for rational conservative voters to consider more closely resemble a Saturday Night Live ensemble than viable, serious candidates.
Steaming out of the Nevada primary, foul-mouthed proto-fascist Donald Trump paradoxically remains the favorite, his bluster and bravado having long abandoned any semblance of civility or decorum.
In second place is Senator Ted Cruz, a man who looks like he would be more at home behind the pulpit at a Texas megachurch than the White House podium.
These are dark times for conservatives. As the GOP continues its descent into self-parody, they are in need of a lifeline, some shelter from this bitter winter assault of stupid.
Take heart, conservatives. There is still one serious candidate yet to consider. And while this pill is bitter and jagged, it might be best to just close your eyes, plug your nose and drop it down the hatch. The most viable conservative candidate running for president in 2016 is not even a Republican. She is presumptive Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Right-wing media have been painting Mrs. Clinton as the Wicked Witch of the West Wing since the ‘90s. It has been a tenet of conservative political punditry to kick and scream about any leader from the Democratic Party regardless of fact, doubly so if that leader is a minority or a woman. Apart from a blip in the early ‘90s when she led a failed campaign for single payer healthcare, the common thread among Clinton’s policy positions is they have been anything but revolutionary.
She is a hawk on defense. She supported the 2001 and 2003 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. She has stated she supports increased airstrikes and ground troops in the fight against ISIS. Where Republican candidates offer cartoonishly to find out if sand can glow, as Ted Cruz did recently, signaling that nuclear strikes would be on the table, Hillary offers what only in today’s extremist political landscape appears to be the moderate position. It is as war-hungry as any right-leaning foreign policy, and maps out a continuation and escalation of Obama’s policies, as well as return to those pursued by George W. Bush.
More than just drum-pounding posturing and promises of war, Clinton offers more regressive views when it comes to financial regulation. While she has proposed reforms through her campaign website, she has not gone so far as to advocate reinstating the Glass-Steagal Act, a depression-era regulation that separated investment and commercial banks. It was repealed in 1999 via the signature of her husband, President Bill Clinton.
Many on the left have called into question Clinton’s acceptance of six-digit speaking fees paid by some of the largest firms on Wall Street for engagements with Clinton after leaving the Obama administration in 2013. Her senate campaigns were bankrolled by a who’s who of Wall Street firms. This should be considered in the context that she was a senator from New York, but the specter of these donations are likely to follow her throughout 2016.
When it comes to lightning-rod conservative issues like guns and abortion, Clinton, while still to the left of the extreme-right, is very much in line with mainstream America. Polls from Quinipiac, the New York Times, Gallup and Pew repeatedly find 90 percent of Americans support increased background checks for firearms, and, according to Gallup, half the country identifies as pro choice. Despite the power these wedge issues wield over the extreme right, most voters are more moderate than the outrage manufacturers in conservative media would have the public believe. Clinton’s positions are entirely mainstream.
One of the benchmarks of conservatism is the preservation of the status quo. When weighing candidate positions in this context, the choice of candidate becomes clear. More of the same is the best conservatives can hope for. Repealing Obamacare is a pipe dream of a promise only the most gullible primary voters believe. Border walls paid for by Mexico are complete nonsense and amount to little more than red meat for the white nationalists in Trump’s camp. Considering the alternatives, there is a dearth of viable options for moderate right-of-center voters. Ignore conservative punditry’s reactionary bluster and thinly veiled sexism in their Clinton coverage.
Like it or not, she is the thinking Republican’s best bet for electing a rational, viable conservative for president.
If moderate Republicans accept this now, and support her in the primaries, they could thumb the scales for her over Sanders. If not, come November, they might just find themselves choosing between a National Socialist and a Democratic Socialist, two populists at opposite ends of the spectrum. And that would be the most bitter pill of all.

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