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What if Clinton won 2016 US presidential election instead of Trump?

Nov 04,2020 - Last updated at Nov 04,2020

What if Democrat Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 US presidential election instead of Donald Trump? The US and the world would have been spared four roller-coaster years of Trump, of his narcissism, ignorance and irrationality and his never ending presence in all media.

She should have won as she garnered nearly three million more votes than he did but was bilked of the office by an obsolete, undemocratic system which, undemocratically, gives greater weight to votes from less populated states.

By contrast with Trump, who seeks to reign only over his base and do the bidding of reactionary conservatives, Clinton would have made an effort to serve the entire citizenry of the US. She may not have succeeded with inclusiveness in a country as deeply divided as is the US, but she would not have stoked bitter partisanship as Trump has done.

Trump recruited neophytes and party hacks for his administration; Clinton would have surrounded herself with people who can do the job of running a country. Instead of providing a steady hand on the tiller of the ship of state, an erratic, self-centered Trump fostered chaos. Clinton would have promoted sanity and order and addressed the concerns of disadvantaged minority communities.

Clinton would have made a major effort to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, enacted during the Obama administration. During her husband's first term in office, she formed a team of experts to draw up a massive healthcare plan for the US. Unfortunately, politicians on both sides scorned her plan as "socialised medicine" and berated unelected First Lady for presuming to put forward such revolutionary legislation. If passed and implemented, the dysfunctional US healthcare sector would have been better able to cope with COVID-19 and earlier, lesser pandemics.

Clinton would have promptly consulted scientists before responding to the challenge posed by the pandemic as soon as it became a global menace in early January. Her response would have been the opposite of Trump's dismissal of the dire threat posed by the disease and refusal to mount a campaign to contain it. It is now estimated that if there had been an early, effective anti-COVID drive, 83,000 out of the current more than 230,000 deaths could have been prevented and several million of the current 9 million might not have been infected.

If Clinton had contained COVID, she would have prevented economic meltdown, rising unemployment, the closure of businesses and schools, and repeated lockdowns.

Clinton would not have withdrawn the US from the Paris climate accord and would have encouraged US firms to invest in "green" energy sources while ending or cutting subsidies for the coal and oil industries. She would also have made an effort to regularise gun ownership with the aim of reducing the high level of shooting deaths and woundings in the US. Since such policies are anathema to Trump's base of supporters, Clinton would have had a struggle but Clinton is a determined person.

On the foreign scene, Clinton would have not alienated US allies, been tough on Russia, worked out reasonable trade relations with China, and kept the US in the agreement requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions. If allowed to resume normal political and economic relations with the international community, Iran might have adopted less contentious regional policies.

Although a strong supporter of Israel, Clinton would not have abandoned the two-state solution of the Palestine-Israel dispute or defunded UNRWA, the agency providing for Palestinian refugees, or other aid programmes benefitting Palestinians.  The Palestinian mission to the US would have remained open and the US consulate in East Jerusalem which serves Palestinians would continue to operate.

The "if Clinton" issue is relevant to the 2020 election because if her fellow Democrat Joe Biden wins the presidency, he has repeatedly said he would adopt an agenda similar to that of Clinton.

If elected, Biden would have to mount a Herculean effort to cancel much of the destructive legacy of the Trump era. This will sidetrack his efforts to carry out the moderately progressive policies. If Biden is backed by Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, he will be in a better position to root out Trump's fait accompli but if the Senate remains in the hands of the Republicans this would be a very tough fight if they remain devoted to Trump.

Biden is in a better position to beat Trump in 2020 than Clinton was in 2016. Cool and collected Clinton did not and does not possess Biden's chief assets; warmth and likeability and the ability to appeal to working class voters as well as the educated elite. Consequently, she failed to win over pockets of alienated white men and women who determined the outcome in strategically located communities in "swing states" which decide the race in the Electoral College.

Biden has three other determining advantages. He is running at the end of three plus exhausting years of right-wing revanchist radicalism and anarchy under Trump. Clinton's bid for the presidency followed eight relatively well-regulated years of Barack Obama. Clinton would have extended his regime. US voters, however, like to alternate periods of Democratic and Republican rule.

Unlike Biden who empathises with fellow citizens who have suffered from COVID, lost jobs, or been evicted, Trump, who is incapable of putting himself into someone else's shoes, considers afflicted "nobodies".

Finally, Clinton is the first woman to be chosen as the candidate for the presidency of one of the main US political parties.  Biden is an old white man. Unlike the 75 countries which since 1950 previously had women prime ministers or presidents, the US is still reluctant to have a woman in the top job. Twenty-nine countries currently have female heads of state or government. The US lags far behind.

In 1972 the first Black woman to enter US national politics by campaigning for and losing the Democratic presidential nomination, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm summed up the situation an interview with the BBC, "I have certainly met much more discrimination in terms of being a woman than being black."

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