In today’s political world, polarization is rampant. Hilary Rodham Clinton, however, has become a catalyst for further polarization. Her presence in the election process of 2016 may well be one of the key components in one of the most divisive elections in the history of this country. Her history as first lady to her husband in Arkansas and the Whitehouse, senator from New York, and Secretary of State under President Obama, and current growing turmoil around her tendency to avoid transparency, may well deepen the chasm that exists between the two parties.
Imagine two groups pulling on a rope in a tug of war competition. Hillary Clinton is seen by many as a person whose very presence would add length to the middle of the rope. The two teams keep pulling, neither seeming to gain a winning edge, and suddenly the rope is longer and the opponents are further apart but still without victory. The real problem this causes the Democratic Party is the narrowing down of the available votes to each end of the polarized political spectrum. This may spell disaster for Clinton and the Democrats.
Polarization in today’s political climate is like a fire burning. The American voters are seeing the fire and turning away from the heat of the burning vitriol they see, while the country’s needs seem to flounder in stagnation. A Gallup Poll for Aug. 5-9 measured the approval rating of Congress, a good measure of the public’s anger toward politicians. The poll revealed an 82 per cent disapproval rating. It also indicated that only 5 per cent of the voters had no opinion about Congress. This poll seems to indicate devastating polarization and extreme feelings of animosity toward politicians and politics in general. Only 5 per cent of voters are not involved, but those who know about it are angry. Because the politicians will not come together to solve serious problems, the gap between the parties grows bigger and the people drift further from the process.
So, what does this have to do with Hillary Rodham Clinton as a catalyst for polarization? Hillary brings to this political fire loads of combustible issues. Deserved or not, she has a history of perceived cronyism, the very thing the public despises. The Washington Times on June 14 had an editorial summarizing several of her past actions that may not pass the smell test. For example, when Hillary Clinton was senator in 2004 and her husband was running the Clinton foundation, she helped builder Robert J. Congel obtain bonds worth over $700 million for a shopping center project. Coincidentally, a month later, Congel donated $100,000 to their Foundation. Several of these apparent favor-trading “coincidences” are public knowledge.
There are mounting concerns over her handling of the raid on the U.S. Embassy in Bengazi, Lybia and what appear to be attempts to cover up her mistakes. When she was asked to present her emails so a congressional investigation could get to the bottom of the attack, it appears to some that she began a cover-up that has resulted in a growing sense among the voters that she cannot be trusted. A late August Quinnipiac poll indicates that voters believe she is not honest and trustworthy by 61 percent to 34 percent. The same poll shows Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in three key battleground states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. While her numbers are falling, Biden, who hasn’t thrown his hat into the ring, is leading her where it counts. She seems to be a polarizing factor in the race whereas Biden apparently brings some calm.
Hillary is not the only factor in this polarization, and it is often difficult to measure, but the polarization is happening everywhere. No one expected the meteoric rise of Donald Trump, which has brought a divisive factor to the Republicans as well. From his first statements on he has captured the attention of that disgruntled mass of voters who see the vitriol and inaction and want leaders, not politicians. He has led all of the polls since the first debate and his momentum has not weakened.
Trump is pulling the tug of war rope one way, to the far right, while Bernie Sanders is pulling the other, to the far left. An avowed socialist, he now has a 9 point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire and is gaining ground in Iowa. Is it possible her gaffs and the growing distrust from the voters is fueling her descent?
Putting aside political ideology for the moment, consider the possibility that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a catalyst to a serious growing polarization in the 2016 election. Whether or not it is her fault or a scheme drummed up by her opponents, it is making for a very interesting election.
Opinion By Lloyd Gardner
Gallup Poll.com: Congress
Washington Times.com: Editorial, Hillary Clinton’s History of Cronyism
Quinnipiac University Poll: 2016 Presidential Swing State Polls
Politico.com: 2015/08/Hillary Clinton Liar Factor, 2016, 08/2015
Time.com: Sanders Surge Clinton Biden Poll
Photo courtesy of Keith Kissil’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License