Things have not been looking great for the Republican Party recently. Paul Ryan isn’t running for re-election. The GOP’s Senate majority, thought to be impenetrable, is looking more and more tenuous. Donald Trump, as always, is a huge dipshit. And polling has shown that left-leaning voters are fired up to vote, which could spell disaster not just for House Republicans but for prominent state-level Republicans like Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.
The Republicans’ big plan to combat a potential blue wave? According to a Fox News report that quotes several party strategists, it’s...Hillary Clinton.
“We’re going to make them own her,” Republican National Committee spokesman Rick Gorka told Fox. “I promise you that you’ll continue you to see it—Hillary Clinton starring in our paid media,” added Corry Bliss of the Paul Ryan-linked Congressional Leadership Fund. “She’s a very powerful motivator.”
And in Indiana, according to Fox News, Clinton has become a focal point in a Republican congressional primary:
In some cases, Republicans are using Clinton, who last served in the government in 2013, to go after some of their own.
Republican congressional candidate Steve Braun is under attack in his primary from conservatives who suggest he may have voted for Clinton in 2008, when he cast a ballot in the state’s Democratic primary.
A super PAC is set to begin running new TV ads linking Braun and Clinton in the coming days.
In some ways, it’s easy to see why Republicans are resorting to an old bogeyman. Clinton, bucking the trend of most failed presidential nominees, has not gotten any more popular since her loss. In December, Gallup found that her approval rating was at an all-time low of 36 percent. And it’s true that she hasn’t completely left politics. Last May, she launched the political group Onward Together, and just a few weeks ago, she frustrated Democrats running for re-election in Trump country by calling their states “backward,” as opposed to the places she won, which she characterized as “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”
But if anything, Clinton’s own party can’t distance themselves from her hard enough. The Bernie Sanders wing, still deeply distrustful of Clinton, is slowly but surely building power, while even former allies like Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri have attempted to distance themselves from her. “For those of us that are in states that Trump won, we would really appreciate if she would be more careful and show respect to every American voter and not just the ones who voted for her,” McCaskill said after Clinton’s “backward” comment.
And while Clinton might be the gift that keeps on giving for Republicans, she has not held any sort of public office in five years. She has stressed that she’s not running for office again. At this point, going on three Secretaries of State removed from her stint in that office, her impact on the federal government as it currently exists is extremely minimal.
In other words: Hillary Clinton is at the height of her irrelevance, and that presents a dilemma for Republicans. But she is still occupying the spotlight, despite the fact that her and her terrible campaign are both partially responsible for the hell we find ourselves in now, and that is no doubt helping Republicans project the vision that one of the only national politicians who has an approval rating lower than Trump is still dominating Democratic politics.
Eventually, you have to imagine—or hope, at least—that voters will wise up to the fact that the influence of Clinton and other Third Way Democrats is perpetually waning, both within their own party and in a federal government that is under the complete domination of the Republican Party. And the less we hear from the Clintons, the sooner that’ll happen.