Yesterday, I argued that Hillary Clinton could guarantee Trump’s defeat by speaking first at tomorrow’s convention, giving this speech, and quitting the presidential race. In today’s sequel, I describe what happens next in this fictional alternate dimension.
Near the end of her speech, the former First Lady left the podium, microphone in hand, and delivered her closing remarks at the edge of the stage. In a startling nod to rap culture, she defiantly dropped the mic into the pit. Turning on her heel, she strode confidently through the curtains.
She left behind a stunned, hushed auditorium. A buzz of murmurs rippled through the crowd for a brief moment, as the delegates blinked at one another incredulously. Then, like the sudden crash of a mighty wave, applause thundered around the arena as shrieks of horror and joyous cheers mingled.
An hour later, Robby Mook gavelled the convention to order again. He explained that the Secretary had informed him of her decision just before her speech, and had directed him to announce that, in the interests of continuity, the new nominee will inherit Clinton’s campaign funds and can choose to retain some, all or none of her staff.
Next Donna Brazile — now acting chair of the Democratic National Committee — took charge of the first truly consequential major party convention in decades.
Predictably, supporters of Bernie Sanders waste the rest of Monday trying to nominate him. However, the convention honors Clinton’s wishes and the dictates of good sense by voting this down decisively. At that point, some sore losers threaten to quit the convention. Sanders urges them to stay to help choose the new nominee, but a few dozen inconsolable crybabies storm out of the convention, anyway. Everyone who remains relishes the room’s resultant surge in average IQ. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Sanders supporters — all of the sensible ones who really love their country — stick around.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the convention soberly sorts through several other options: Vice-Presidents Biden and Gore; Senators Booker, Kaine, Klobuchar and Warren; Governors Brown and Hickenlooper; and the Secretary of State, John Kerry. Some decline, others express interest. Riveting debates ensue. The field narrows to the two most attractive candidates.
Donald Trump and other hostiles mock the Democrats for not rallying fast behind one candidate, but most laud the deliberate care the convention takes. Meanwhile, polls report Hillary Clinton’s surging approval ratings. Reporters continue to hold vigil around her house in Chappaqua, but she and Bill remain holed up inside, unavailable for comment.
Late Wednesday, during the debate, a delegate gives a stirring speech. He notes that Clinton’s decision to withdraw to stop Trump is a textbook case of civic virtue as it was defined by our country’s Founders: an ethic of public service that sacrifices personal ambition for the common good. George Washington, for example, embodied this quality, first by scolding American military officers who offered to make him king, and again when he retired after two terms to show that we have shall no presidents for life in this country.
Clinton’s very willingness to decline the nomination to stop Trump, the delegate argues, is what makes her the perfect candidate to beat him. Polls show that the public now overwhelmingly agrees.
This turns the tide of the debate. After midnight, in an overwhelming vote, the convention nominates Clinton for president.
Will she accept? Of course she does. Clinton returns in glory on Thursday to accept the nomination. She gives a stirring speech, and goes on to trounce Trump in the general election.
Savvy analysts argue that this may have been her plan along. Why else would she have announced the release of her Goldman Sachs speech transcripts before quitting the race?
Still, her defenders note, she earned the reward by taking the risk.