Hillary Clinton’s First Presidential Term

Zach Toillion
Nov 3 · 4 min read

A look at what the US would be like if 80,000 people voted differently in 2016.

What would life be like in the alternative history where Hillary Clinton assumed the Presidency on January 20th, 2017? The leaks of her campaign manager’s emails, her long history in the public eye, her own released emails, her books and extensive policy information give us a good idea of how her first term would play out.
Clinton’s first term would have been invariably marked by a litany of scandals and investigations, particularly with Republicans in Congress. In October 2019 the State Department finally cleared Clinton in the ongoing email investigation, meaning the investigation would have been happening for the first 35 months of her Presidency. Republicans would have probed Clinton for collusion with two foreign governments-the UK which provided the anti-Trump dossier, and Ukraine’s support of Clinton in the 2016 election. The Jeffrey Epstein Saga would have invited questions into crimes potentially committed by Bill Clinton, and Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Clinton’s enabling of Harvey Weinstein would have alienated nearly all of America. Previous deals of the Clinton Global Initiative would have been scrutinized endlessly.
Clinton would be largely stonewalled on judicial appointments, but would still get some judges put on the federal bench-even if she had to through recess appointments. A moderate much better than Neil Gorsuch would sit on the Supreme Court. Even these confirmations would be difficult, as Clinton would see catastrophic losses in 2018.
Clinton’s ideas for Cabinet appointees were leaked in the Wikileaks Podesta emails. She was eyeing former Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg for Treasury, billionaire centrist Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for Labor Secretary, and insufferable Twitter troll Neera Tanden for HHS. Hawk Michelle Flourney would head up Defense, and Joe Biden would be Secretary of State (an odd choice for a man who was wrong about nearly every foreign policy decision his whole career). The oddest selection was “An African American” for EPA. The rest of the list is padded with picks of people whose biggest qualification were being Clinton loyalists. Simply put, the Cabinet would be filled to the brim with yes-men and nary a progressive voice in sight.
Clinton would have kept in place the Iran deal, Paris Accords, Clean Power rule, and wouldn’t have weakened the ACA. She would have taken in more refugees-likely ten times as much as the Trump administration. Legislatively, Clinton signaled to Chuck Schumer and Paul Ryan a massive tax deal. The deal would have included many provisions to get Republican support, including cuts to the corporate tax rate, new tax credits for “job growth” and repatriation of taxes to get companies to relocate to the US. In return, Democrats would get expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and new infrastructure spending. Facing an intransigent Congress, Clinton would have made good on her promised executive orders. She’d attempt to end corporate inversion, enact gun reforms and expand the DACA program.
Clinton was also committed to an expansive international trade deal. The deal would’ve had many similarities to the much maligned TPP, but the administration would be forced to be more transparent about the process. Clinton would have have inherited a very strong economy, one that very likely would even outperform the Trump economy-salvaging her approval a bit-likely sitting in the mid 40’s for approval by this time.
Foreign policy would be Clinton’s weakest point. Clinton would greatly expand the bombing campaign in Yemen, a continuation of the Obama years. She also promised a no fly zone in Syria, dragging us even further into the conflict. Planes would be shot down, more military advisers would be sent, and the continued arming of rebels would make things worse.

The Good:
-DACA expansion
-A more compassionate refugee policy
-Closing the gun show loophole
-Earned income tax expansion
-A shrinking deficit, to the lowest since 2001
-Continuation of Obama’s good policies (Iran, Cuba, Climate Change)
-A moderate to slightly liberal Supreme Court.
-Probably 100+ liberal judges on the federal bench.

The Bad:
-Constant scandal and investigation
-TPP lite
-A no fly zone in Syria
-Continuation of Yemen genocide
-Cutting the corporate tax rate
-Massive losses in Congress
-Republicans gaining almost unstoppable power in the states
-Continuation of bad Obama policy (Drones, surveillance, espionage act)
-Terrible Cabinet

Clinton would be a watered down continuation of the Obama administration. She would largely continue his policies, while adding a few piecemeal steps forward. It’s hard to say whether she would be re-elected. She would have been the beneficiary of a strong economy and a list of modest achievements, but Republicans would use their newfound power to both game the system and scandalize her into oblivion.

Zach Toillion

Written by

Libertarian Socialist who writes about politics, economics, philosophy religion & history. Author of books, writer of a weekly news column for TN Star Journal

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