Despite Hillary Clinton not having won the 2016 election, and therefore not being our president… or holding any public office whatsoever, Republicans plan to map their 2018 strategy around stoking hatred of her.
And why shouldn’t they? It’s not like they can really tout the accomplishments or genuine party pride of President Trump.
The Associated Press cites a Republican spokesperson as having said:
“With control of Congress up for grabs this fall, the GOP’s most powerful players are preparing to spend big on plans to feature Clinton as a central villain in attack ads against vulnerable Democrats nationwide. We’re going to make them own her.”
Paul Waldman of The Week has illustrated an example of how this strategy is already being utilized:
So get your “Trump That Bitch” T-shirt out from the bottom of the drawer, because it’s time to stoke those fires of hate once more. Well, I say we don’t need more Hillary here in West Flurdburt!” At other times, it’ll be about defending President Trump. “Nothing’s been turned up except that Hillary Clinton is the real guilty party here,” says a Senate candidate in Indiana about Robert Mueller’s probe. “We don’t need to investigate our president, we need to arrest Hillary,” says an ad for West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship, who may be the most despicable human being running for office this year. Blankenship, a coal magnate, recently spent a year in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to violate mine safety laws in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion that killed 29 people. He is unrepentant.
Such strategy reeks of Republican desperation. Sure, Republicans still dislike Hillary Clinton, but midterm voting is not far more issue-driven and less emotion-driven than voting in a general election. It’s highly unlikely that a large portion of the electorate is going to rush to the polls to vote against Hillary Clinton. There is the small matter of her absence from any sort of ballot to begin with.
Conversely, for Democrats, the midterms will be an uncharacteristically emotional vote. At no point in modern history has any president angered, wounded, or completely disregarded this many distinct voting blocs. To be a liberal in Trump’s America is to feel wake up with a daily feeling of dejection, of restlessness, and impotence.
So even though Trump, like Clinton, will be missing from the ballot, it seems far more likely that Democrats are far more likely to vote against him, against his party, against everything for which he stands.
Republicans are truly grasping at straws with this Operation Villainize Hillary strategy. But I suppose they feel they need a strategy and the biggest actual accomplishment they can own is the “tax cut bill” which, per a Gallup poll, a majority of Americans still oppose; only 18 percent say it lowered their taxes.