Will President Hillary Clinton Heal Divide?

Her opportunity is great… if she can overcome her flaws.

By - Oct 27th, 2016 10:26 am
Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump, riddled with self-inflicted wounds, is a dead man walking, so it’s time to start thinking about what President Hillary Clinton could do in her first hundred days to pull this horribly divided country back to some measure of consensus.

It is no longer a question of whether Trump will fall short of the 270 electoral votes needed to win, it is only a question of how badly will he go down.

Trump gives every indication of being a sore loser. A prickly character who reacts or over-reacts to every offense or perceived offense, he says he will sue adversaries and possibly challenge the outcome.

Will his surprisingly large base of supporters keep the rancor going after even a big defeat? Probably yes, but how President Clinton handles the two months before inauguration and the first 100 days on the job will have a lot to do with the level of divisiveness going forward.

Trump could do the country a favor by toning it down after losing. He should find some satisfaction that, despite his Reality TV sideshows with women, the press and GOP leaders, he has made his policy points loud and clear. He will have had a major impact on future national policy.

For instance, multilateral trade pacts are dead for the foreseeable future. For instance, immigration border enforcement will be much stiffer going forward. For instance, foundations, like his and hers, will get much greater scrutiny for payouts that look like political patronage.

In some ways, he could declare a degree of victory in defeat. But I’m not betting on that kind of wisdom or concern for the collective good. His race has always been more about him than others. In the worst case, he will be vindictive, play the role of victim and insist that the outcome was rigged.

Because he largely “rigged” himself, Clinton will have no mandate. For many, she is the lesser of two bad choices. And she certainly has ascertained that the anger and frustration that fueled his rise and Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong run in her own party.

She needs to give the country a sense that it is on the move again and, like it or not, we Americans are all in this together. Here are some of the moves she could make to offset his divisiveness:

  • She could put a few Republicans in her cabinet, as Lincoln did with his rivals as he tried to heal Civil War wounds.
  • To offset her proclivity for secrecy and the scars from Trump’s war on the press, she could schedule monthly press conferences for her duration in office at blue and red states around the country. She could be ultra-transparent.
  • She could immediately reach beyond her base to GOP congressional leaders, regardless of which part controls the two houses. She agrees with them on some issues, like getting the deficit under control.
  • She could promise to appoint justices, like Obama appointee Merrick Garland, who are not too far from the mainstream of American politics.
  • She could mitigate the never-to-be-solved division over abortion by pragmatic steps, such as the support of LARCs. Twenty-one states have dramatically reduced unwanted pregnancies (UPs) by making long acting reversible contraceptives more affordable and accessible. Fewer UPs equals fewer abortions. LARCs should not be a partisan issue.
  • She could show she is pragmatic and innovative, not left wing ideological, on health care by appointing John Toussaint of Theda Care Health of Appleton to head Medicare. He is the country’s leading expert on introducing lean disciplines to the heath care industry, showing the way to driving out waste, hospital-induced infections, defects and cost at hospitals and clinics. The country’s access issue is a direct result of its grossly under-managed health costs. Smart cost management could put $5000 into every U.S. household, going a long way to the restoration of a sense of upward prosperity.
  • Appoint a trade czar with the mission of balancing trade with China, drawing the line on further job losses to that country.
  • Appoint a deficit and debt hawk to head the Treasury.
  • Establish a bipartisan foreign policy to take out ISIS.
  • As she applies higher tax rates to the super-rich, long overdue, and installs a minimum corporate tax rate in return for a lower top rate, use the proceeds the right way. Spread the wealth by tying subsidies to work like Tommy Thompson did in Wisconsin and her like her husband did when in office. The country needs more workers.
  • Cut a middle ground on immigration: tighter borders; continued deportation of bad actors; work permits for illegals, but not citizenship. Ideologues on both sides will not be happy, but it’s a workable compromise.

As Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, has pointed out, she is going to get a lot of Republican and independent votes. If she pays attention to them, even while adhering to the major goals of her base, and if she addresses issues raised by Sanders and Trump, she could be a healing, transformational president.

If she stays in character — secretive, calculating, politics- first — it’s going to a long four years, even more divisive than President Obama’s eight years. And those flaws will dog her forever.

On the other side of aisle, Republicans need to wise up to the hard political reality that they will have been out of the Oval Office for 20 of 28 years. If she throws out an olive branch and offers pragmatic solutions, they need to pick it up and start the rebuilding the brand of the GOP as a party that can do more than obstruct.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

22 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Will President Hillary Clinton Heal Divide?”

  1. PMD says:

    Check out what these Trump supporters, including some from Green Bay, have to say about a Trump loss and Clinton’s potential to heal the nation. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/28/us/politics/donald-trump-voters.html

    -Jared Halbrook, 25, of Green Bay, Wis., said that if Mr. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, which he worried would happen through a stolen election, it could lead to “another Revolutionary War.”

    -“If she comes after the guns, it’s going to be a rough, bumpy road,” Paul Swick (also of Green Bay) said. “I hope to God I never have to fire a round, but I won’t hesitate to. As a Christian, I want reformation. But sometimes reformation comes through bloodshed.”

  2. dty says:

    @PMD – completely agree. To keep the metaphor intact, it’s hard to heal a divide when the other side is continually moving away. Hillary could take two steps to the political right, but the political right will take three more steps beyond that and the divide will grow.

    In regards to one specific point regarding Supreme Court nominees, if the Senate flips to Democrats this election there is a pretty good chance the lame duck Senate will start the process to confirm Merrick Garland in November and December. That would put President Obama in an awkward position to withdraw Garland as the nominee in deference to the incoming Clinton administration or somehow require Clinton to give her unofficial endorsement or promise to retain Garland as the nominee.

  3. PMD says:

    I’m not suggesting there will be blood. I think these dudes are full of bluster. But with millions of pissed off white guys all over America, she won’t be able to heal much of anything.

  4. AG says:

    I don’t understand how we can’t get more politicians to agree to this point:

    “Cut a middle ground on immigration: tighter borders; continued deportation of bad actors; work permits for illegals, but not citizenship. Ideologues on both sides will not be happy, but it’s a workable compromise.”

    This seems like something most Americans can get behind.

  5. PMD says:

    Quit trying to be rational AG. These are not rational times.

  6. RMH says:

    “She could immediately reach beyond her base to GOP congressional leaders, regardless of which part controls the two houses. She agrees with them on some issues, like getting the deficit under control.”

    The same “leaders” who’ve blocked our current President at every turn? Would “getting the deficit under control” include military spending, spending on the drug war?

    No, I’m guessing not.

    You and your party created this client. Trump is the natural outcome of decades of Republican obstructionism, racism, homophobia and misogyny. You made your filthy bed, and President Clinton better make you lie in it. Any “reaching out” should come from those GOP “leaders” you mentioned, not the other way around.

  7. RMH says:

    oops, “climate” not “client”

  8. Daniel Golden says:

    On January 21,2009, the day after barrack Obama was sworn in, a cabal of Republican Senators and Representatives met to create a plan with one goal: to deny Obama a second term. No matter how meritorious and necessary Obama’s proposals, they would obstruct them in any way possible. Their goal was to defeat any initiative from the Democratic side, even if that legislation was in the opinion of independent experts, necessary to deal with the consequences of the disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush. Paul Ryan was one of those in attendance. We have witnessed eight years of a Republican Party that was all politics all the time, with the common good and basic decency sacrificed for partisan advantage. Nothing has really changed in the actually goals or methods of the GOP. They will double down on throwing sand in the gears of government with Hillary Clinton. If Hillary does win, she would be well advised to do exactly the opposite of what Torinous suggests: she should aggressively pursue her policies with the expectation that the GOP will do to her what they did to Obama. A lesson in history: Even after the disastrous 1964 election for Republicans, the majority of Republicans remaining in congress voted against Medicare. After over a year of negotiations by Obama, not one single Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act. The modern GOP is a cult not a political party, and are constitutionally incapable of any meaningful compromises, and should be seen for what they are-chore boys for the billionaires who want tax cuts and more wars.

  9. Sue says:

    Which particular Republicans might be willing to torpedo their careers by accepting a post in the Clinton administration? That makes them the enemy and the howling will come from Republicans, not Dems.
    Reach out to Congressional leaders? Republicans are already publicly announcing their plans for a Clinton presidency, and there doesn’t seem to be much of an intention to play nice. You can reach out all you want and still hit a wall every time.

  10. confused about morals says:

    I don’t understand this: Trump has people denouncing his spoken word, not supporting him because of things he’s said and for some he just repulses them. And this is from Republicans and Conservatives. So what I don’t understand is: what Democrat or liberal has spoken out against Clinton for all the true facts that have come out about her lying, cheating, and deals of treason in her career in the public eye. Why isn’t there anyone bold enough on the Dem side to say: “this woman is not moral enough to run and I don’t support her”? What are you afraid of?

  11. Arnold says:

    Very optimistic– like Charlie Brown optimistic that Lucy will actually let him kick the football this time.

  12. Jason says:

    Dan Goldie, I am not sure if your new to politics, but usually one side tries to stop or slow down the other sides momentum. This idea of both sides working together is a myth. In the 1980’s the Speaker of the House, Tip O’neill a Democrat stated that any legislation that Ronald Reagan wanted in his House was dead on arrival. Same thing happened with Gingrich and Bill Clinton or GW Bush and Nancy Pelosi.

  13. Jason says:

    With the “Dems” it is party before country. They stick together. Republicans faint at the first site of blood.

  14. PMD says:

    Daniel Golden is right Jason. The GOP did band together in 2009 and vowed to oppose Obama no matter what. And here’s a similar “no compromise” pledge from 2010. http://www.politico.com/story/2010/10/the-gops-no-compromise-pledge-044311

    That is textbook party before country.

  15. Jason says:

    I don’t disagree with that PMD. My point was both sides are guilty. Harry Reid NV Democrat held up all of GW Bushes federal judges. Mr. Golden is acting like Polyanna or some guy that fell of the turnip truck. This is a sport and the progressives are better at it. Take a compliment

  16. Jason says:

    This picture of Hillary Clinton is it from the 1990’s. I suppose you can not really find a positive, upbeat looking Hillary at 69 years of age to support the article.

  17. WashCoRepub says:

    Hopefully this latest addition to the investigation can be completed quickly. It would be a real shame to have President Clinton sworn in, and almost immediately be forced to start impeachment proceedings due to a serious breach of law.

  18. Jason says:

    First she could be pardon by Obama or herself right? Isn’t impeachment a dud as well. You still have four years of Tim Kaine. Why not leave her tainted and weak.

  19. PMD says:

    You guys are dreaming. There’s no breach of law here. Nothing was withheld. Clinton is still going to win. And Jason is still a misogynist.

  20. Bruce Thompson says:

    Given the internal toxicity of the present Republican party, wouldn’t Hillary Clinton’s reaching out to Republican office holders put them at risk of a primary opponent?

  21. PMD says:

    “The emails were not to or from Clinton, and contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.” http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-fbi-clinton-email-probe-20161028-story.html

  22. Jason says:

    PMD, your probably right she still wins the election is a third over anyway. It does make you wonder what FBI director Comey has. to put a shadow over the Billion dollar Hillary Inc. 2016 corporation. Maybe, Comey is misogynist and to your accusations I am pro vagina.

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