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How Hillary Clinton Helped Fuel The Alt-Right

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Photo of Hillary Clinton courtesy of Greg Skidmore

American politics are complex. One of the main contributors to this complexity is due to the fact that if an individual wants to be successful in American politics, they have to align themselves with one of the two mainstream or “electable” parties – the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. However, the vastness of the political spectrum or intricacies of culture and region could never be fully represented in a two party system. This has led to politicians using whatever tactics they could use, with little regard of whether or not the position was to the right or left of their party, to secure a victory. And in the case of Hillary Clinton, there have been some disastrous consequences.

Since the election of Barack Obama, there has been an unprecedented rise in right wing extremism throughout the United States. What started out on websites Neo-Nazi websites or fringe corners of Youtube, Reddit or 4chan started seeping into mainstream political dialogue. Fox News hosts like Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson toyed with far-right ideas to boost ratings and it worked.

When Donald Trump rode down that escalator, he wasn’t being treated as a legitimate candidate. He was mocked, not only by Democrats, but by Republicans as well

What the far-right lacked, even in the Republican Party, was a credible figurehead to express these ideals on a national stage in a way that made them debatable, rather than immediately dismissed.

When Donald Trump rode down that escalator, he wasn’t being treated as a legitimate candidate. He was mocked, not only by Democrats, but by Republicans as well. His attacks on Mexicans were routinely mocked and, at least initially, it appeared Donald Trump didn’t have a chance at becoming the President. 

Well, that all changed thanks to a collaboration between Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the DNC and the Media.

Screenshot of Clinton Campaign Email to DNC discussing campaign strategy. Courtesy of Salon.com

In what was supposed to be a “pied piper” strategy, the Clinton Campaign instructed the Democratic National Committee to tell the press to make far-right candidates seem like the mainstream in the Republican Party. The idea was this would cause moderate Republican candidates to move further to the right in order to make Hillary Clinton look like the best choice and she’d secure an easy victory. She gave 3 examples of far-right candidates that should be focused on: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

But what they failed to realize was that in America, as a result of racial anxiety which peaked during the Obama years and the lingering economic effects of the Great Recession, extreme conservatism was more popular in formerly industrial and rural communities across the United States. 

As we all know now, this strategy didn’t work.

So, as instructed, the fringe right candidates were treated as legitimate options by the media for the Republican Presidential nomination. And this, as the memo suggested, pushed the Republican Party further to the right. But what they failed to realize was that in America, as a result of racial anxiety which peaked during the Obama years and the lingering economic effects of the Great Recession, extreme conservatism was more popular in formerly industrial and rural communities across the United States.

Less than 2 years after this memo was sent, Donald Trump was elected as The President of The United States. And one of the things he did was help stack the Supreme Court with conservative judges. The most controversial was Brett Cavanaugh due to his rape allegations. The other was Amy Coney, who went on to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the court.

Let’s fast forward to today and Roe V. Wade is likely going to be overturned. Mitch McConnell has stated that a nationwide abortion ban “is possible.” Policies that would have seemed absurd a few years ago are now creeping their way into the mainstream, like Arizona openly considering a condom ban.

To blame Hillary Clinton entirely for these events would be stupid. That’s not what I’m doing, but her campaign strategy certainly got the ball rolling.

And we don’t know if we’ll ever get the ball to roll back.

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Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff is a San Francisco-based writer, editor and digital content creator known for Bay Area Memes, a local meme page that has amassed nearly 200k followers. His work has appeared in SFGATE, The Bold Italic and of course, BrokeAssStuart.com. His book of short stories, personal essays and poetry entitled Don't Drown on Dry Ground will be available early 2022.

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