Hillary, Trump, and The (Un)useful Idiots

por Rafael L. Bardají y Óscar Elía Mañú, 3 de octubre de 2016

Esteban González Pons, once a rising star of the Popular Party (PP) and now relegated to speakership tasks in the European Parliament, announced last July that the PP would only attend the American Democratic—not the Republican—Convention, citing that the PP was more in tune with the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and wanted to emphasize the ideological distance from Donald Trump, the Republican candidate.

At the time we believed that the move showed an entirely unnecessary, capricious and counterproductive lack of political courtesy. In the end, if we had been born in Disneyland, we would be Texans, Republicans and evangelicals. However, we must also admit that we were at all surprised. It is becoming very usual to see the PP groveling before the American left. Let’s recall how, after the 2008 elections between John McCain and Barack Hussein Obama, the same González Pons, then the PP’s deputy secretary general of Communications in Spain, boasted with enormous pride that he had made a money contribution to Obama's campaign. Knowing as we know, and with the U.S. Election Law in hand, that no foreigner can donate to the election campaign of any American candidate, it was clear that González Pons was either lying or that he had committed a crime: In any case, it was just one more demonstration of a party going adrift, obsequiously ad nauseam with Democratic progressive candidates and cowardly hostile with conservative Republicans.

Because we do believe that he naively got carried away with his enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate. That was something that virtually the entire leadership of the PP in the Valencia Congress shared at the time when the party was expelling "classic liberals and conservatives" out of the party, first from the party’s headquarters and then from Moncloa. Hence we are not surprised now that the current PP and its organic intellectuals are strongly rooting for Hillary and throwing their arms up in horror at a candidate as unorthodox as Donald Trump. They find Hillary cozy and well-off, while Trump highlights their shortcomings, emptiness, and betrayals. Hillary's sins, her corruption and nepotism, are familiar to them; to the PP establishment, the truths with which Donald Trump is convincing millions of Americans seem an assault on the castle of political correctness in which the PP elites live.

We look forward to hearing what our (un)useful idiots will say after the first debate of the two presidential candidates. To our knowledge, no one around here wants Trump to succeed. Therefore, the verdict of the debate is a foregone conclusion as well as what the headlines will be: “Hillary won,” at best; "Tied” before a populist, irascible, rude, racist, and xenophobic Trump, at worst. Never mind that Hillary seeks not to lose and Trump only to win: The Spanish Right has started to compete with progressivism showing the same phobias – and there is consensus about it. We mean, consensus in that, too.

None of us can know how the debate will be. Nonetheless, one thing is certain: Hillary was not the one who climbed Mount Everest. That merit belongs to someone else. In spite of those who hope to see her again in the White House, Hillary’s closet is full of skeletons and she may not win this race. In July, when, on behalf of the PP, González Pons disowned the Republican Party for allowing Trump get elected as its candidate, but was praising Hillary, 25 percent of Americans were saying in a serious survey that they will never ever vote for her, with a surprisingly high number of women – or maybe not so surprisingly.

And Hillary Rodman Clinton, who in Spain is presented as realist, strong, pragmatic and a friend of Europe, looks quite different on the other side of the Atlantic. This is how we see her.

For starters, it is often said in Spain that Hillary, as secretary of State, worked wonders. Of course, she visited 112 countries and spent as much time flying as in her Washington D.C. office, having traveled a total of over a million and a half kilometers. OK, but, how about “successes”? She did not accomplish anything. She did not achieve any historic peace agreement; she has not improved diplomatic relations with Europe or Asia; she failed to fix the Guantanamo hot potato; she did not stop Iran and has alienated the United States from its allies in the Middle East. And we are not factoring in her radical changes of heart, e.g. going from support to rejection regarding the TPP agreement. Even worse, the terrible and shameful matter of Benghazi happened under her watch. That was a mixture of improvisation and lies and we have not heard the end of it. Benghazi has shown many Americans that Hillary is not up the job of America’s Commander in Chief.

Second, the more the public hears about her life, the more corrupt she looks to the public. While she was at the helm of the State Department, her husband earned more than 200 million in conference honoraria and the Clinton Foundation received lucrative donations from foreign powers. When one takes a look at her visitors’ agenda at State, a visible correlation emerges between the professional life of her husband as a speaker and those she received as secretary of State. Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates American foundations, blacklisted the Clinton Foundation as an organization not recommended to donors given its business scheme. In the words of Dick Morris, a former advisor to the Bill "Dick" Clinton campaign, "the Foundation is like the Presidential Library, which has no books. It just gives grants, but only to family and friends."

The email scandal, her arrogance in using a private server for national security affairs, her email hiding scheme for the investigation, her obstruction of justice show Hillary Clinton conflating private and public interests, not to mention the use of taxpayer resources for her own affairs mixed with a naked ambition that she can hardly hide.

We do not think necessary to continue criticizing the Democratic candidate. Most Americans see her as paranoid, a liar, and someone who regards herself to be above the law. No candidate has ever entered the presidential race plagued by so many scandals.

The worst is that, not even using the cynical realist prism so fashionable among people of the Spanish right these days, Hillary can be acceptable. Contrary to what many believe, it does not seem that Hillary will correct the many errors of her boss, President Obama. Hillary will simply turn her time into Barack Hussein Obama’s third term – in domestic and foreign affairs. We already know her candidates to the Supreme Court; they constitute a calling on the progressive reinterpretation of the American Constitution within the well-known leftist beliefs of the candidate.

Naturally, maybe that is precisely what the PP leadership values best: The apparent snobbish progressivism that masks the pure and brutal eagerness to promote personal interests to retain or achieve power at all costs amid an ocean of corruption. After all, Obama's third term would be like Zapatero’s third term: More leftism and power hunger.

Donald Trump, of course, is not a saint. But he has something that European traditional parties and sophisticated European elites have a difficult time understanding: Trump thinks what the average American thinks and says what the average American wants to hear. Moreover, Trump says it in the way that the average American wants to hear it. He has become a striker against the despotism of "political correctness" that has devastated Europe’s political discourse and threatens to destroy America’s.

In the United States, Washington D.C. does not enjoy the highest regard; it is the symbol of federal power over the states and of bureaucratic forces on the individual, with political correctness undergirding it all. Trump does not only make promises: His assault against the establishment and the “business as usual” attitude is convincing. We do not know if President Trump will build the wall on the border with Mexico, but, so far, he has been received by the president of Mexico. We do not know if he will close America’s borders to all Muslims from troubled countries, but, so far, he has met with Egyptian President al-Sissi. Both presidents know what to expect with Trump, which is much more than one can say about Hillary.

It is possible that, used as he is to business environments, Trump may look impulsive, may have a hard time remaining silent, may be aggressive crushing his rivals until he gets the upper hand. That is typical of business in New York, but it does not sit well in political environments. Some criticize him for being America-centric and isolationist: They do not realize that they themselves have been criticizing the United States for years for the failure of addressing domestic economic problems, such as the national debt. However, one thing is clear, Trump’s slogan "Make America Great Again" is the envy of the Democrats. It resounds forcefully in the minds and hearts of the American people. It should actually resonate with anyone who aspires to have a prosperous, safe country that counts in the world.

In Spain, all that is misunderstood. That is not Trump’s fault, but ours. It is in our country where the sister of an ETA terrorist can humiliate a PP candidate, who answers babbling, unable to put her in her place because—and that is the grave and pathetic side of it all—he cannot distinguish the difference between Spaniards and the PP, between GAL and ETA, between the terrorists who murder and the murdered, between the executioner’s sister and the executioner’s victim. This has become so normal now with this PP light that has no ideology. That would not happen to Trump. It did not happen to him after the attacks in Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey. While Democrats shied away from talking about terrorism or jihadism, Trump called for urgent measures to tackle Islamist terror. Democrats and progressives defended the "lone wolf" theory, which the FBI is devoiding of significance as the investigation advances. In spite of the political correctness involved, much of the American population no longer finds excuses and calls a spade a spade. It is also starting to happen in several European states, again by the way, against the political and media establishments.

Ultimately and above all, conservatives may like Trump more or less. We actually have two good Republican friends who say that they will not vote for Trump on November 8. They are wrong. This is about real life, real politics: The choice is not between Hillary and an ideal and perfect conservative candidate. It is about Obama’s continuity and Clinton’s corruption vs. Donald Trump. This is it. There is no other way. Trump is the only card that conservatives have—we have—in order to try to stop Obama’s bad policies and make of America the country that we all need. The America that Americans need first – and then, the rest of Westerners. The world in which we live is the world that America created after World War II. Obama has done everything possible to destroy her by undermining America’s confidence in herself. A petty America in the Obama-Clintonian vision can offer lofty oratory, but it has nothing worthy to offer to the world. A great America could indeed have a lot to offer to the world. That is why we believe it is time for Trump to rebuild and improve America – also for the benefit of our (un)useful idiots.