It is the most honest thing that Hillary Clinton has said during this entire campaign.
On Friday, Clinton spoke at an LGBT for Hillary gala in New York City. About Donald Trump’s supporters, she stated that:
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their Web sites that used to only have eleven thousand people—now have eleven million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.
She backed away from this, of course, because Hillary Clinton’s backbone has the rigidity of water-logged cardboard. But her equivocation to one side, the statement she made was unquestionably true: many of Donald Trump’s supporters hail from the far-right and white supremacist political milieu. For example, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke explicitly endorsed Trump in a robocall he produced as a part of his run for the U.S. Senate from Louisiana. And then there’s William Johnson, a Trump delegate from California to the Republican National Convention who also happens to be the head of the so-called American Freedom Party, a white nationalist political group.
This holds true of Trump’s supporters in the general public as well, if Alabama Trump supporter Jim Sherota’s sentiment is any evidence:
Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill… That’d be one nice thing.
And naturally, the chair of the American Nazi Party has described Trump’s candidacy as presenting “a real opportunity for people like white nationalists.” So it is hard for anyone to make the argument that Donald Trump is not receiving enthusiastic support from the most extreme reactionaries in American society. “Basket of deplorables” is about the kindest thing that can be said of them.
But there are two groups of deplorables in American politics, and Democrats would do well to recognize the second. Trump’s group seeks to immiserate people of color in hot blood, furious at the faltering of white supremacy in this country. Yet the other group actually has worse consequences. These are the neoconservatives, and instead of being driven by bilious rage, they are motivated into action by the cold and bloodless logic of empire, and unfortunately for Secretary Clinton, they are all #WithHer.
Atrocity-mongers like Max Boot and Robert Kagan have, to a man, aligned to support Clinton’s campaign. People like former CIA director Michael Morrell, whose agency is one of the biggest impediments to democracy and justice around the world, have signed on as well. The Daily Beast reports that “some of the GOP’s best brains” are now for Clinton. Clinton even made a point of bragging about how blood-drenched war criminal Henry Kissinger had praised her work at the State Department (which Senator Sanders reminded her of in a polite and devastating fashion in one of the Democratic primary debates). This, combined with her support of military intervention in Libya and her long-standing vociferous support for further American military intervention in Syria, has the potential to cause exponentially more actual harm to human beings than what Trump is doing now.
This is a problem on multiple levels. Not only is every figure like Boot and Kagan a detestable moral abscess, they are also fundamentally spineless opportunists. Without access to the imprimatur of the state and all the power that it brings, they are useless to Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. In the unlikely event that Hillary Clinton loses to Donald Trump, they will change their tune at the drop of a hat and make attempts to save face by flattering Trump’s ‘muscular resolve in the face of foreign policy challenges’ or some such nonsense, and in so doing would worm their way back into the good graces of those in power. The Democrats are allying themselves with people who have zero loyalty to them.
Long term, this is not a solution for victory if you are a putatively liberal party like the Democrats are supposed to be. By rehabilitating the architects of the GOP’s worst actions, actions that have resulted in catastrophic failure even when evaluated by their stated goals, the Democrats under Secretary Clinton are hemming themselves in rhetorically. They are tying themselves to odious people who will instantly split the moment the other side offers a better deal better deal. At best, this is poor strategy. At worst, it is a deliberate effort to put criticism of the self-perpetuating war machine out of electoral bounds.
The Clinton campaign has made “Dangerous Donald” an ongoing theme this election cycle. Their ads have featured Trump and his bombastic rhetoric over and over again, making the point that the Republican nominee does not have the temperament to be making decisions for the nation in the White House. That is true: a Trump presidency would be a disaster on many levels.
But with friends like Henry Kissinger and Michael Bloomberg, the future under President Hillary Clinton looks to be just as bleak for the working class in the United States and around the world. American politics is one big basket of deplorables.