What Would Each Candidates’ Presidency Look Like, If Elected?

It’s difficult for anyone who follows politics to get through a full day without hearing someone make a not-very-serious prediction about what America might look like after four years of a given candidate.

Those predictions are always either too rosy or too apocalyptic. They’re almost never serious. So that got me thinking: what if we tried our very best to present honest, realistic predictions of all four presidential candidates’ administrations? What if we studied their platforms, weighed that against America’s contemporary political climate, and tried our best to really measure how each candidate’s presidency would shape up?

That’s what we’re going to be doing in these articles, published over the next few days, starting with the one you’re reading right now, about Hillary Clinton. Based on our most educated guesswork, and while aiming to remain as honest and realistic as possible, we’re going to try to predict how the presidencies of Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Donald Trump would each play out.

Each of these articles are written under the assumptions that the candidates won in tight races, and that there’s no significant change to the House or Senate. If these people were president today, with things the way they are, this is how we think their administrations would play out.

With all of that out of the way, let’s take a look at the would-be Presidency of Hillary Clinton.

The Presidency of Hillary Clinton

Within hours of Clinton winning, gun sales surge. Conservatives and some progressives threaten to leave the country. There are protests, mostly small, around the country. But on the whole, most Americans celebrate the fact that America just elected its first female president.

Meanwhile, Republican legislators are vowing, publicly and otherwise, to not work with the incoming President. Their goal is much akin to what they tried with Obama for eight years: Make Hillary Clinton a one-term President by any means, ramping up their obstructionism and doing all they can to thwart her efforts to change “their” America. As a result of their efforts, Hillary Clinton struggles to get much done, and many of her goals become nearly impossible.

Clinton nominates a moderate to the Supreme Court (perhaps even former President Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland), but Republicans on Capitol Hill fight the nomination tooth and nail, despite their earlier claims that the next president should fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat. She attempts to negotiate deals with Republicans, but they aren’t buying it: they want a conservative judge to replace Scalia, and they won’t budge until Clinton picks one of their candidates.

President Clinton continues with President Obama’s job growth, but it does stall out after a year or so; jobs aren’t being lost, but new jobs aren’t really being produced, and growth is minimal. She finds moderate success in getting new job growth initiatives going, with mixed results around the country.

Her college tuition plan morphs from “make college free for families earning under $125k/ year” into a lackluster bank-friendly program that mildly reduces tuition costs at public schools and expands on government scholarships, grants, and financial aid. Her administration also passes some debt relief and debt restructuring legislation, but they’re small improvements that don’t do much to help working families. Overall, there are no major changes to college tuition or college debt.

Clinton is able to successfully reform the Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” — with some small degree of bipartisan support. Her administration reduces the costs of copays and deductibles, and a few more states expand Medicaid. She’s also able to increase Federal spending on medical research, fighting diseases like autism, HIV, and Alzheimer’s disease, though it’s not really enough to seek out real cures.

Perhaps most upsetting for Clinton’s 2016 campaign supporters will be her failure to make serious progress on gun control. After having been billed in debates with progressives as the best gun control candidate in the race, Clinton’s failures on gun control are amplified; she isn’t able to get Republicans to budge, even when she attempts to find compromises. And you can forget about a truly bipartisan effort — say, combining ideas from both parties and passing both the Grassley and Murphy Amendments — because party politics will stop that from happening, despite all the horrible mass shootings that will likely occur during those four years.

Some of the worst fears of America’s progressives come true. Clinton makes little to no effort to fight for campaign finance reform, and does even less to take on Wall Street and big banks. The corruption and fraud shown throughout the 2016 Democratic primaries goes unaddressed by Clinton and the Democratic Party. There’s very little change on these critical issues; that’s probably why there are rumors of progressives attempting a primary challenge on the incumbent Clinton before her first year in office is out.

Another of the left’s concerns? Clinton is a hawk, and that proves itself true pretty quickly. Clinton isn’t afraid to threaten with, if not throw around, America’s military might when the going gets tough. Military spending is moderately increased throughout her first term. Drones become a little more prevalent, too. Clinton moderately improves VA funding, despite GOP obstructionism, but her willingness to use the sword instead of the pen draws criticism from everyone on the left, as well as a number of moderates.

When it comes to criminal justice, Clinton shows even more mixed results. She doesn’t reform mandatory minimums, and she certainly doesn’t bring an end to privatized prisons, but she does manage to make some progress with improving employment opportunities after incarceration, and improves training for police departments that could, in time, prove to help reduce racial profiling.

Hillary Clinton is and has always been a controversy magnet. It’s safe for us to assume she’s going to attract, and sometimes outright cause, numerous scandals. And like we see today, for every ten Clinton scandals, three or four will be real, and six or seven will be inventions of the right. One of Clinton’s scandals will be serious enough that it would’ve ended her presidency twenty or thirty years prior, but in 2016? Eh.

Hillary Clinton’s Overall Performance

How does President Clinton’s first term measure up after four years? Not awful, not great… just sort of there.

Clinton outright abandons too many campaign promises. She never manages to win over America’s progressives, pushing them away to the point where they plan on thwarting her reelection efforts in 2020 with a rare primary challenge. Her approval ratings struggle in the 35- to 50-point range for most of her first term. When 2020 rolls around, progressives could dethrone her with their primary efforts, and if that fails, it will be the Republican Party’s race to lose. And if they put up another candidate like Donald Trump, that’s precisely what will happen.

But despite all of that, her presidency does carry a respectable record of baby steps in multiple fields, and she does make some decent headway in some areas. Based on her first four years in office, you couldn’t honestly say that she was the best American president, but you couldn’t really say she was the worst, either. Hillary Clinton’s presidency is pretty average, but at a time when America wants real change, Clinton will find herself struggling even worse for reelection in 2020 and will most likely lose.

Overall, we’re predicting Hillary Clinton’s first-term “grade” would be a C+. Progressives and conservatives will find common ground in disliking her. Moderate liberals and moderate conservatives will think she’s decent or, at least, better than the alternative. Her chances at winning reelection in 2020 sit between 20% and 45%.

Photo by Gage Skidmore