The Corner

No, Hillary Is Not the Conservative Option in 2016

I’m a big fan of Jamie Kirchick – indisputably, the greatest “Russia Today” television guest of all time – but he’s just flat wrong when he contends that Hillary Clinton is the conservative in this year’s presidential race.

Kirchick at least admits that Clinton’s beliefs are “mostly progressive,” and that he comes to this conclusion that she’s “conservative” from Trump’s awfulness and by defining conservatism through the lens of Edmund Burke:

At the heart of Burke’s philosophy, which remains relevant, is a belief that man is not perfectible, that his accomplishments are worth preserving, and that the accumulated wisdom of the human experience ought be considered before engaging in systematic change. Can anybody seriously dispute that, set against this definition, Clinton is more conservative than Trump?

Sure. Am I the only one who remembers Hillary’s “politics of meaning”?

We need a new politics of meaning. We need a new ethos of individual responsibility and caring. We need a new definition of civil society which answers the unanswerable questions posed by both the market forces and the governmental ones, as to how we can have a society that fills us up again and makes us feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Now, will it be easy to do that? Of course not. Because we are breaking new ground. 

All she wanted to reinvent is human existence and all of society! Most comic-book villains have less grandiose goals than that.

Even if you think the 2016 edition of Hillary has softened since then, she still supports abortion on demand and partial-birth abortion; contended “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” to protect access to abortion; wants to expand Medicare to cover everyone over 50, wants to allow students to attend public four-year colleges for free, and doesn’t appear to believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. Oh, and she wants to establish “fun camps.”

Hillary wants as many sweeping changes as badly as Trump does, they’re just different changes.

Elsewhere, Kirchick accurately calls Hillary “the only candidate promising some form of economic, social and political continuity with the present.” Yes, that’s why Trump has a shot at winning.

He puts it even clearer, “Clinton is the candidate of the status quo, something that conservatives, by definition, are supposed to uphold.” If that were the case, conservatives would have wanted to reelect Barack Obama. When the status quo has shifted dramatically leftward, then conservatives want change.

Perhaps the most dispiriting argument to hear coming from Kirchick is the contention that Clintonian corruption not unusual enough to disqualify her from the presidency: “As egregious as the dealings of the Clinton Foundation may be, as much as her use of a private email server indicates a disturbing lack of regard for the rules, Hillary Clinton ultimately operates within the normal remit of an American political leader.” 

No, she doesn’t! A Secretary of State having a personal foundation that functions as a favor-factory for the globally well-connected and to accept generous gifts from foreign government is not the normal remit! 

He concludes, “The case for Hillary Clinton is that she’s not Donald Trump.” No, that’s just not good enough by any definition of conservatism. The flaws of Trump don’t make Clinton any better, and the flaws of Clinton don’t make Trump any better. 

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