Dear Hillary Clinton: It’s about the Status Quo, Stupid

Hillary Clinton’s refusal, or inability, to recognize that the outcome of this election rests on voters’ negative perceptions and feelings about the status quo rather than on competence, experience, and temperament is going to be her undoing. It’s how we’re going to end up with President Donald J. Trump in January. For what it’s worth I’ve been saying this since he announced – check my social-media posts.

Hillary, I’m begging you. Change the message before it’s too late.

First, let’s look at a few facts.

The Republican Party currently occupies 247 out of 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives to the Democrats’ 186. There are two vacancies, one in Hawaii and one in Pennsylvania. Of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, 54 are held by Republicans, and 31 of the 50 states have Republican governors. On the United States Supreme Court four out of the eight members lean conservative, with one vacancy left by the death of conservative Antonin Scalia. Of course Barack Obama, the President of the United States is a Democrat.

I’m pointing all that out because despite the numerically indisputable Republican domination of the Federal government’s legislative and policy apparatus, despite President Obama’s difficulty implementing the Democratic party’s agenda because of assiduous obstruction by a Republican Congress, despite the drain on financial and human resources wrought by a war engineered by the two-term administration of Republican President George W. Bush, despite the rise of ISIS that resulted from the regional destabilization that war created, and despite the deep economic recession that hit on his watch, large groups of voters, a great many of them Republicans, feel the country is in a very bad place and headed nowhere good.

Regardless of what you think of President Obama, those very same Republican voters might be interested to know that many Democrats feel exactly the same way. As a lifelong Democrat, I sure do.

In any case, the numbers just don’t add up; therefore the source of dissatisfaction must lie elsewhere. And it does — perception.

What’s really being said by both sides, in somewhat different verbiage is that many Americans feel they have no control over their own lives and no say in a government that’s supposed to represent them. It’s what Bernie Sanders supporters and Donald Trump supporters have in common. The Bernie or Bust contingent gets it – it’s why they’re so angry. All say the system is broken, and many people are beyond caring about why, they just want the problem fixed…ASAP.

Where does Hillary Clinton fit into the equation? Like her husband, former President Bill Clinton and President Obama she is an advocate of market-centric policies. Regardless of the DNC party umbrella under which they all stand, they are not the Democrats of yore, but moderate or liberal Republicans – yes, there actually used to be such things. I’m a New Yorker, and here we call them (Nelson) Rockefeller Republicans or (Jacob) Javits Republicans – that is to say social progressives, but fiscal moderates.

So the answer is really pretty simple. Hillary Clinton is seen as representing a version of the status quo. Whether she does or doesn’t is open to discussion, but regardless, right now that’s ballot-box poison.

The status quo has not been good for far too many Americans regardless of how we vote. Unless you’re a member of the elite, incomes are flat, the tax system egregiously perpetuates inequality, the health-insurance system even with the Affordable Care Act is not a solution, and money for the sake of money has value and influence far beyond what it reasonably should in a representative democracy.

More years ago than I care to admit, one of my graduate-school professors taught that perception, not reality plays a pivotal role in international politics. This has proven to be true in domestic politics as well, and never have I seen it more evident than in this election.

That’s why the countless odious facts about Donald Trump don’t matter one bit. This election is about iconoclasm and perception. And whatever else you can say about him, Trump is perceived to be an iconoclast. Moreover, any attacks against him will continue to be viewed as part of the conspiracy by those who advocate the status quo – the Clintons, President Obama, and both the Democratic and Republican parties. Perception trumps everything. The fact that Hillary Clinton is not trusted by many and vilified by many more is just icing on the cake.

For Jews a Trump victory will bring serious problems. The most obvious is his common cause with Jew haters and Shoah deniers like David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and founder of the National Association for the Advancement of White People. Chaverim, you may think many of us are white, but to Duke and his ilk we’re just Jews, period. Don’t believe me? The evidence is there in black and white and digital.

Riding on Trump’s coattails will be the Christian right wing. Vehement supporters of Israel yes, but their support comes with a hefty theological and physical price tag. They make no secret of their eagerness to instigate and prepare for their vision of the Messianic age. Do we really want to leave Jewish and Israeli security to those who can’t wait to witness the Second Coming? Just FYI, Jews are only entitled to its benefits unless we accept you know who beforehand.

In addition, they also favor governing the United States according to Biblical law, and I don’t mean Halacha.

Donald Trump has all the characteristics and uses all the same rhetoric as the self-proclaimed messiahs that have come before him. Such people have never been good for Jews. Just listen to his speeches and read his social media posts and those of his followers. Then take a good hard look at history. Every single one of the insults and accusations has been leveled at Jews many times, even in the United States. While you’re at it reread Martin Niemoller’s First They Came.

Hillary Clinton is far from perfect, but neither is she the epitome of evil and corruption as some allege. The accusations notwithstanding, there simply is no evidence she has ever committed any crime, and there never has been.  If there were we have a legal system and process to address that — she shouldn’t be tried by either by innuendo or by a lynch mob.

The United States has always been about evolution, not revolution and must continue to be so because that’s what’s sustainable. Tearing a system apart, as Trump wants only brings about chaos – history shows us that over and over. And it has never been good for Jews.

Status quo failure, economic inequality, and Washington’s problems have now become part of the discussion. That’s a good thing. We must continue to press for their resolution and live to fight another day. That’s also a good thing. And regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen in Washington, many of us know that most of the governing that matters in our daily lives happens on the state and local level.

Trump is not an option any Jew or person of good will should entertain. Personally, I think he should share the fate of the Amalekites — metaphorically speaking.

About the Author
Toni Kamins is a writer in New York City. Her work has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, the NY Daily News, City Limits, the Los Angeles Times, the Forward, the Jerusalem Post, and Haaretz. She is the author of the Complete Jewish Guide to France, the Complete Jewish Guide to Britain and Ireland, and the forthcoming website the Jewish Guide to France.
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