What Hillary Clinton should do now

Former Senator & Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee (Photo Credit: ABC)

Below are the remarks of Hillary Rodham Clinton, delivered at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday, July 25, 2016 — in some alternate dimension:

Good afternoon. It breaks protocol for the presumptive nominee to be the opening speaker on the first day of the convention, but this is no ordinary time.

In this city — 229 years ago — the Framers met to draft our Constitution. Ben Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and other luminaries debated, negotiated and compromised. In less than four months, they created one of the greatest governing documents in the history of human civilization. They designed a constitutional republic , a government by the people, tempering majority rule with respect for individual freedom. Over time, as our country grew and matured, we made amendments to move toward a more perfect Union, but the structure of our Constitution remains consistent: an enduring bulwark of democracy and liberty that has seen us through Civil War and civil strife; the Great Depression and the Great Recession; the world wars, the Cold War and our current War on Terror.

We hold the Constitution sacred, but there is nothing magical about the document. Ultimately, it is just a piece of paper. It only works when we elect wise leaders who understand and revere it.

Donald Trump does not understand the Constitution, and he reveres nothing but his own ego. He says he will defend the document, but he does not even know how many articles it contains, much less what is in them. Trump does not care. The details do not concern him; he thinks he has all the answers.

Because he does not understand the document, he makes plans that would shred the Constitution. He promises to abolish violent crime and restore law and order on our streets on his first day in office. He vows to round up and deport 11 million undocumented workers. Is he going to declare martial law? Impose a police state run by the federal government? Just once, briefly, during our greatest national crisis — the Civil War, with half the nation in rebellion —Lincoln declared martial law. No other president has ever seriously considered it in a time of domestic peace, and we cannot afford to elect someone who would.

Trump’s assault on the Constitution does not end there. He would tear up treaties — trade agreements and strategic alliances that have been negotiated by previous presidents and ratified by the Senate. He would revive discrimination on the basis of religion and national background. He endorses ethnic profiling and mass surveillance. He wants to bring back torture. He wants to make it easier to punish people for what they say and write. He threatens to kill government employees who leak sensitive information.

Trump adores dictators. He calls Vladimir Putin — the man who killed democracy in Russia — “a strong leader.” He misses Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein.

He respects Kim Jong-Un: “If you look at North Korea — this guy, he’s like a maniac, OK? And you have to give him credit. I mean, this guy doesn’t play games.”

No, Mr. Trump: No one deserves credit for ruling a murderous Stalinist regime that threatens to nuke its neighbors while starving its own people.

Trump praised China for killing protesters in Tiananmen Square. It was a historic, peaceful demonstration for democracy, but Trump called it a riot. He said, “The Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak.”

Trump’s attitude toward political freedom comes across clearly at his own rallies, where he cheers on hired goons and unhinged mobs as they rough up protesters.

History shows that the first time an authoritarian wins an election is the last time anyone’s vote matters for a long time — maybe ever. Ask the people of Russia, who cannot get rid of Putin because they no longer have free and fair elections. Ask the people of too many countries across Asia and Africa who have seen elected leaders abolish democracy and declare themselves dictators for life. Ask the people of Venezuela, who have not had a free and fair election since first electing Hugo Chavez. Ask the people of the many eastern European countries who made the mistake of electing Communists after World War II, only to find themselves trapped behind the Iron Curtain for four decades under the iron fist of Soviet rule.

This election shouldn’t even be close. I have devoted my life to public service. By virtue of my record and resume, I rank among the most prepared presidential candidates, ever. My Republican opponent, by contrast, is not just the least qualified major party nominee in American history, but also by far the most impulsive, mendacious, narcissistic, corrupt and fascist.

Still, according to the polls, this will be a close election. Most Americans say they dislike and distrust both candidates. Millions of Americans appear to hate me so much that they are willing to hand the country over to an authoritarian ignoramus.

I still think we can win. I believe we can make the case against Trump and for the continuation of constitutional government. I am not afraid of Donald Trump.

But the risk is too great. Ultimately, it is not about me; it is about us, and our children, and this country’s future.

I cannot have the death of American democracy on my conscience, so I am taking action.

A few minutes ago, I released the Goldman Sachs speech transcripts. I should have done it long before now. Of course, they contain no surprises.

Also in the last hour, the Democratic National Committee accepted the resignation of my good friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We appreciate her work, but we need a new chair that all Democrats can support, a new party leader to engineer a general election landslide.

I wanted very much to serve this country as your president, but I hereby release my delegates. I encourage you to choose a more unifying figure to lead the party to victory this fall, someone that all Americans can get behind.

Naturally, Sanders supporters will regard him as the logical candidate. That is only true if your goal is constitutional suicide. If Sanders had a better chance of winning the general election, then he would have beaten me in the primaries. He appears to poll better than me only because he has not yet been subjected to four consecutive decades of deranged and largely baseless right-wing attacks. The GOP has laid off him because he is a joke to them — literally, the opponent of their dreams. They would tear him and his leftist record to pieces. We would lose the election to Trump, anyway, and my withdrawal from the race will have done no good.

Warning: Many Sanders supporters will not understand or believe anything I just said. Some of them have very limited reasoning power; I can say that now, because I’m no longer running for president.

Sanders supporters take it as an article of faith that the primary was rigged; it was not. There is no credible evidence of electoral fraud. Was the DNC totally fair to the Sanders campaign? No. You know why? Because we — the vilified establishment — have paid our dues and worked for decades to build this party, elect candidates and make a difference. We do not appreciate it when a guy who has spent his life outside the party decides to join just so he can raid the coffers, hijack the organization and drive it into a ditch. For more than a year now, I worked to raise funds not just for my own campaign, but also for Democrats running for the Senate and the House. Sanders raised a lot of money, too, and kept it all for himself. He spent more than I did during the primaries. Every penny on himself. No real effort for any of the Democrats running for Congress.

News flash to Sanders supporters: In our system, no president can get anything done without help from the Senate and the House. Your failure to show up at midterm elections helped hand Congress and state governments to Republicans, which led to more gerrymandering to solidify GOP control of Congress, which produced the total government gridlock we’ve endured for the last six years. Yes, we need to stop Trump, but we also need to clean out Congress and the statehouse, to get rid of the Republicans and Teabaggers who refuse to work across the aisle and do what is best for the country and our kids.

We don’t have the luxury of vanity votes for nonviable candidates. We need to save American democracy, create jobs, crush ISIL, reverse income inequality, slow climate change, save Social Security, improve education, rebuild infrastructure, reduce deficits, and expand health insurance while cutting costs. There is no time to waste.

I urge my former supporters to work with the Sanders delegates to rally behind a unifying figure who can lead us to victory this November. My family is eager to help however we can. Let us know what we can do once you get it all figured out, but Bill and I are going home now.

History, politics, education, music, culture. Award-winning high school teacher, former principal. College instructor. Seahawks Diehard. Twitter: @brian_mrbmkz

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