Why Should Partisan Politics Get in the Way of Warmongering?

Ever since the more mainstream Republican right began to turn on Donald Trump, I’ve wondered why they don’t simply bite the bullet and vote for Hillary Clinton instead. Desperate for anyone who isn’t Trump, the GOP has tried to get Weekly Standard editor William Kristol to suggest a candidate – which went as well as you might expect – and dreamt of someone, anyone, riding in on a red horse to save the party, and the day. Though former CIA agent Evan McMullin appears to be making what could be construed as a minor splash, he’s not going to be the candidate anyone was looking for.

What’s wrong with Hillary Clinton? No, hang on. Don’t answer that. However, if you’re a moderate authoritarian centrist, you can work with her. She is you. She’s less protectionist on markets than Trump. She is a confirmed hawk, while he rhetorically dances from isolationist to sure, let’s send 30,000 troops to fight ISIS. It’s an insult in leftist circles to call Clinton, or anyone, a corporatist, but Republicans are no stranger to cronyism in their candidates. If it weren’t for that unfortunate Clinton last name, and maybe her stances on guns and abortion, Hillary Clinton could be a solidly Nixonian choice for the more "reasonable" Republican.

She’s been searching for the endorsements to match. Turns out former Secretary of State/ war criminal Henry Kissinger may or may not be looking to officially back anyone this year. But Clinton has already boasted that he was impressed by her work in the State Department. Time reports that Kissinger was at least considering signing off on her for president. Furthermore, there has been a lot of talk of the campaign reaching out to Republicans who are horrified by Trump, for whatever reason.

One of the most blatantly hawkish voices to say "Clinton 2016!" is Robert Kagan. Kagan is the co-founder of the late Project for an American Century, otherwise known as the braintrust of the nastiest pro-war voices of the last two decades. It was obvious to Kagan that Clinton was the right choice for president (at least when she was standing next to Trump).

Kagan is right. Trump is principle-less, untrustworthy on war, and blatantly terrible on immigration and trade. But Clinton has already done awful things, and has pushed for war again and again. If you believe that the US should treat the rest of the world like a slab of clay in art class, then Hillary Clinton is the choice. Some Republicans, of note and otherwise, are falling into line behind her. A July Washington Post piece suggested that they would be right to do so, even if it was "extreme." This is because Trump is terrible, Libertarians aren’t worth it, and Clinton has a record for working with the other side while in the Senate. Hell, she worked with the late Republican Sen. Robert Bennett in 2005 on an anti-flag burning law that thankfully failed. She’s dependable!

Clinton loves America the way hawks do — thoughtlessly, dangerously, and in an authoritarian-friendly manner. It’s just a little surprising that more of the folks on the right aren’t jumping on her bandwagon. And where are the official right-wing media endorsements? Where is National Review’s In Praise of Hillary issue? Why doesn’t the Washington Free Beacon realize that Clinton is crazy for warmongering, just like they are?

Partisanship is powerful in American politics. However, that power is a trifle overrated when compared to other, more bipartisan values. The drug war was easy to pass. Tough on crime legislation was often suggested by Republicans, but eagerly pushed by Democrats who wanted to appear strong. Foreign policy issues are similar; the best you can say about the relationship between the two parties is that the Republicans are a reckless, binge-drinking person with a desperate wannabe friend Democratic Party tagging alone, trying to keep up, doing shot after shot.

Wars, spying, a lack of transparency, an end to encryption, all of these are pushed by bipartisan efforts. Americans may squabble over guns, abortion, and how much government intervention in the economy we need (a lot, or a huge amount). They don’t fight very often or hard over when their military should go fight somewhere else.

This is not to say that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans on war. Gallup polls generally suggest that the right is more in favor of foreign intervention. The 2002 Senate vote on whether to vote for George W. Bush’s Iraq resolution resulted in 21 Democrats voting no (Clinton not being one of them. Ooops.). In his most heroic moment, Lincoln Chafee was the only Republican senator to vote no. The House wasn’t much better, with only six Republicans voting against the war (obviously Ron Paul was one of them).

But these Democratic spasms of antiwar feeling never last. They are the actions of a party that likes to think of itself in a certain way, but is suffering from self-delusion. These are Obama enthusiasts who got "realistic" about foreign policy the second their candidate won office. They are the people who still hate Bush, but can no longer imagine a world in which the US doesn’t have a secret kill list, and a drone assassination program.

Republicanism also encompasses your Pauls, and your Congressman Amashes. But they are minuscule exceptions to the party line that the US must keep fighting monsters, and search them out everywhere they may hide abroad (except if they run a country that the US needs to be in alliance with).

Why not welcome Hillary? If Trump is so embarrassing, make Clinton your candidate. She’s as paranoid as Nixon, and as contemptuous of the press. She flirts with diplomacy, but is always ready and willing to use deadly force to solve America’s problems. She thinks Henry Kissinger’s approval is a point of pride.

Don’t let partisan politics get in the way of what you want. If you think the US is weak — that Obama is always apologizing for America, and that a constant deadly drone presence in half a dozen countries with which the US isn’t even at war is doveism, then vote for Hillary Clinton. You won’t be sorry, even if the rest of us will.

Lucy Steigerwald is a contributing editor for Antiwar.com. Her work has appeared in Playboy, VICE, The American Conservative, and other publications. She is most angry about police, prisons, and wars. Steigerwald blogs at www.thestagblog.com.

Read more by Lucy Steigerwald

Author: Lucy Steigerwald

Lucy Steigerwald is a contributing editor for Antiwar.com and an editor for Young Voices. She has also written for VICE, Playboy.com, the Washington Post.com, The American Conservative, and other outlets. Her blog is www.thestagblog.com. Follow her on twitter @lucystag.