When hiring someone for an important job, it is of course important to assess whether or not that person has the skills you think are necessary for doing the job well. But it’s important to also assess what they think are the important aspects of the job, and make sure these line up with what you think are the most important job factors. You want to know what they are ‘passionate’ about, to employ a currently-overused term.
And when hiring an executive, keep in mind that you are also likely gaining access to his network of former employees, customers, suppliers, consulting firms, etc. A similar but even more powerful dynamic plays out in politics, as Daniel Henninger of the WSJ reminds us:
A recurring campaign theme of this column has been that the celebrifying of our presidential candidate obscures the reality that we are not just just electing one famous person. We will be voting into power an entire political party, which has consequences for the country’s political direction no matter what these candidates say or promise.
By that measure, there is a reason not to turn over the job of fighting global terrorism to the Democrats. They don’t want it.
So, what are they key aspects of the Presidential job that needs to be done over the next four years, and how do the candidates and their beliefs about what is important stack up against those factors? Here’s my list..
The suppression of radical Islamic terrorism. Henninger is completely correct: the Democrats don’t want this job. Henninger notes that during a House hearing in 2005, Guantanamo Bay was denounced (almost entirely by Democrats, I am sure) as ‘the Gulag of our times.’ Whereas GOP Congressman Mike Pence correctly responded that the comparison was ‘anti-historical, irresponsible and the type of rhetoric that endangers American lives.’
Henninger continues: ‘Dahir Adan invoked Allah while stabbing his way through the Minneapolis mall. Both Mrs Clinton and President Obama consistently accuse their opponents of waging a war on all practitioners of the Islamic religion. Presumably, if instead we were being attached by Martians, they’d say any criticism of Martians was only alienating us from all the People on Mars. The problem is we aren’t getting killed by Martians or Peruvians or Finns but by men and women yelling ‘Allah Akbar’…Virtually all Democratic politicians refuse to make this crucial distinction.’
The protection of free expression. As long as we have free speech and a free press, there is a possibility that our array of problems can be solved. But once this crucial feedback connection is cut, problems of all kinds are likely to compound themselves until catastrophe happens.
Remember, Hillary Clinton’s response to the Benghazi murders was to blame them on an American filmmaker exercising his Constitutional rights, and to threaten to have him arrested. Which threat she was indeed able to carry into execution.
And note that Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party is closely aligned with the forces on college campuses which are creating a real nightmare for anyone–student or professor–who dissents from the ‘progressive’ orthodoxy or who even demonstrates a normal sense of humor.
There is a very strong tendency among Democrats to call for the forcible government suppression of political dissidents, and to carry this belief into action when they can get away with it: the witch-hunt in Wisconsin and the IRS persecution of conservative organizations and individuals being only two of many examples. More here.
Trump is by no means ideal on this metric: he is thin-skinned and has shown himself to be very litigious. But he is far preferable from a free-expression standpoint to Clinton and the forces that she represents.
Economic growth. Clinton herself would surely like to see economic growth, if only for political reasons. But there is in the Democratic Party a very strong strain that believes America is too wealthy, that our people have too many luxuries, that we need to be taken down a peg. I have even seen attacks by ‘progressives’ on the existence of air conditioning. The Democrats are generally willing to sacrifice economic growth on the altar of environmental extremism and to serve their trial-lawyer clients. Sexual politics represents another cause for which growth is readily sacrificed by Democrats–remember when Obama’s ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus package was first mooted, there was an outcry from left-leaning feminist groups concerned that it would be too focused on ‘jobs for burly men.’
And whatever her ‘small business plan’ may be in her latest policy statement, Hillary has an underlying dismissiveness to those small businesses–the vast majority of them—that do not enjoy venture capital funding. Remember her remark, when told back in the Bill Clinton administration, that aspects of her proposed healthcare plan would be destructive to small businesses? Her response was: “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.” No one was asking her to be responsible for them, of course; only to refrain from wantonly destroying them.
It is important to note that many of the top Democratic constituencies don’t really need to care, on a personal level, about economic growth. Tenured academics have salaries and benefit packages which are largely decoupled from the larger economy. Hedge-fund managers often believe they can make money as readily in a down market as an up market. Many if not most lawyers are more dependent for their incomes on the legal climate than the economy. Very wealthy individuals may care more about social signaling than about money per se, given that they already have so much of the latter. And the poor and demoralized will in many cases care more about transfer payments than about the growth of the economy.
Improving K-12 Education. Much of the nation’s public school system is a disaster. There is no chance that Hillary would would care enough about fixing this system, and preventing or at least mitigating its destruction of generation after generation, to be willing to take on the ‘blob’…the teachers’ unions, the ed schools…these being key Democratic constituencies. Also: the Democratic obsession with race/ethnicity has led to demands from the Administration that school disciplinary decisions must follow racial quotas. Policies such as this, which would surely continue under a Clinton administration, make it virtually impossible for schools to maintain a learning environment for those students who do want to learn.
The current state of K-12 education is a major inhibitor to social mobility in America. Anyone who claims to care about the fate of families locked into poverty, while at the same time supporting a Hillary Clinton presidency, is either kidding themselves or straight-out lying.
Saving Higher Education. Although there are excellent individual professors and university departments–even some excellent universities–the American system of higher education is increasingly becoming a sick joke, and a very expensive one. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Hillary Clinton wants to change this trend line; indeed, her policies would accelerate the decline by shoveling vast amounts of additional taxpayer money to these institutions.
Maintaining American power and preventing great-power war…especially nuclear war. While Islamic terrorism may be the main threat to American security, it is not the only threat. Conflict with Russia is now far more of a possibility than we would have imagined 10 years ago, and conflict with China is also not out of the question. North Korea is mounting its nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles; Pakistan is a state with nuclear weapons and significant industrial capability, with strong extremist Islamic forces influencing its government; and Iran seems likely to acquire nuclear weapons either through indigenous development or by purchasing them from another power.
Trump is more isolationist than I like, but Hillary Clinton has clearly demonstrated an inability to conduct great-power diplomacy effectively, for example with her ridiculous ‘reset button’ exercise.
The closest we have ever come to nuclear war (excluding purely technical failures in the American and Soviet warning systems) was during the administration of John F. Kennedy. This was at least in part because Kennedy had come across as ‘weak’ in earlier negotiations with Khrushchev: the Soviet premier thought he could take advantage of that perceived weakness, whereas it was very important psychologically to Kennedy to signal his ‘toughness.’
I think a similar scenario would be likely with a Hillary Clinton presidency: a very dangerous combination of projected weakness coupled with an urgent need to come across as tough. Furthermore: unlike Kennedy, Hillary Clinton seems to be a very bitter person. Bitterness and ultimate power do not safely go well together.
The avoidance of a permanent ruling class. The crystallization of a permanent American ruling class, based on Ivy League degrees, family ties, and interlocking government/business/’nonprofit’ connection, now seems like a real possibility. It should be completely obvious that a Hillary Clinton presidency would go a long way toward reinforcing this tendency and making it unrecoverable.
The healing of American society. The political and social divisions in American society today are extreme, and do not bode well for the long term. Neither of the candidates is ideal to address this problem, to put it mildly. Trump is bombastic and sometimes crude in his speech; he has exhibited less-than-wholesome attitudes…indeed, repulsive attitudes…toward women. But Hillary’s whole political existence is based on divisiveness; the breaking of American society into interest groups and the setting of them against one another. There is also considerable hostility toward men embedded in the ‘progressive’ movement of which Hillary is the avatar, and sometimes exhibited by Hillary herself. The Democrats have also repeatedly demonstrated great contempt for broad swaths of American society: Christians, ‘rednecks,’ people without college degrees, etc etc.
There is plenty to dislike about Donald Trump. But there is also plenty to dislike about Hillary Clinton, and one or the other of them is almost certainly going to be President. In my judgment, the chances of the United States surviving as a free, safe, and prosperous society are far greater with Trump than with Clinton.