Donald J. Trump is simply a more extreme version of William Jefferson Clinton. Therefore Trumpism is nothing but Clintonism on steroids, which is very good for Democrats and bad for Republicans.
Clinton is a shallow self-serving opportunist with no real ideology or beliefs – like Trump. Clinton’s philosophy was one of doing whatever it took to win an election, just like Trump.
Trump and Clinton are both masters of political theater. Remember Clinton’s well-staged trips to McDonald’s to demonstrate he was a “common man” and perp walks to church complete with a Bible under his arm?
Likewise, Trump, staged numerous tidbits of political theater to make himself look sort of working class, my favorite was Tweeting eating a picture of himself McDonald’s hamburger on his private jet during the campaign.
Clinton Created Trump
Clinton was also a master of strategic culture warfare and blatant race-baiting. There was the notorious and obnoxious Sister Souljah moment when Slick Willy attacked an obscure African American rapper simply to get white votes.
The phrase “Sister Souljah moment” has even entered the American vernacular. Even more loathsome was Clinton’s branding of young black men “super-predators” which justified incarceration for minor offenses.
Clinton’s tactics of pandering to the prejudices of working-class whites, race baiting, and fake professions of Christian faith are now Trump’s tactics. In much of what he did, Clinton anticipated Trump.
Trump White House is Really Clinton III
Now that he’s in the White House, Trump’s behavior has become even more Clintonesque. Just like Slick Willy, he’s sold out his working-class supporters; turned economic policy over to Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), and adopted extreme pro-business policies.
As with the Clinton White House, complaints of ethical violations are mounting while nothing is being accomplished on Capitol Hill. Nor is there an indication that any aspect of the “Trump agenda” that does not benefit big business is being adopted.
Much like Clinton, Trump has turned his foreign policy over the Pentagon and spends his time engaged in petty politics. Even the enemies’ list seems to have reappeared.
Equally bothersome is the way that the party base mindlessly supports the “leader” even though he is effectively wrecking the party. Just as Clinton do no wrong in the eyes of Democrats, while accomplishing nothing, Trump’s support among the Republican base seems to be growing.
Clinton was lionized by many rank-and-file Democrats, even though he accomplished absolutely nothing as president. There was no significant legislation, no new policies, and no real change in foreign policy. All that Slick Willy is remembered for today is an embarrassing sex scandal and near impeachment.
A good case can be made that we are now living through the third term of William Jefferson Clinton. The third term is likely to be even less fruitful and more destructive than the first two.
How Clintonism will destroy the Republican Party
Clinton effectively sold out the Democratic Party and much of its base for two terms in the White House. The damage done was vast, and the party is still recovering from it.
Here is what 25 years of Clintonism has done for the Democratic Party:
- Destroyed a long-lasting Congressional majority. When Clinton was elected Democrats had controlled at least one and sometimes both houses of Congress for 40 years. That majority was gone within two years, and Republicans have controlled both houses for most of the time since then.
- Lost nearly 1,000 state legislative seats since 2009. Back in 2009, Democrats controlled 27, more than half of the statehouses, The Mic reported. Today, they control just 13, or around one-fifth of legislatures.
- Lost a presidential election to the worst major-party presidential candidate in U.S. history Donald J. Trump.
- Created a situation in which as many of 12% of Democrats crossed the aisle and voted for Trump simply to hurt the party establishment. At least one pollster University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Brian F. Schaffner believes disgruntled supporters of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) were the key to Trump’s presidential election victory.
- Effectively lost the support of significant segments of its base – including the white working class.
- Created permanent rifts between the party leadership and African Americans that may have contributed to Hillary’s loss in 2016.
The damage from a few years of Trumpism is likely to be far greater because Trump is more corrupt, shallower, less ethical, less sophisticated, and less competent than Clinton was. Unlike Clinton; who merely played a racist on TV, Donald apparently really is a racist.
To make matters worse, Trump lacks the common sense to confine the cultural warfare to the campaign trail. For all their faults, the Clintons turned the culture war off as soon as the election was over. Another difference is that Clinton never publicly attacked fellow Democrats. Trump seems to spend more time attacking Republicans than Democrats.
Serious cracks are already appearing the Republicans’ Congressional majority less than a year after the election. High-profile GOP Senators are dropping out, and Republicans are finding themselves in tough fights in house elections. What will remain after two or three years of this fratricide?
Hopefully, Republicans will learn from history, and keep the noxious disease known as Clintonism from destroying their party. If they do not they will find themselves in worse shape than the Democrats are today.