Outside the shiny silver-coloured geodesic bubble in downtown Newark, N.J., that is named, for some reason, the Golden Dome, a newly minted doctor of philosophy named Jamie Gorman was shouting on Wednesday afternoon into the winds of inevitability.
“She’s under indictment!” Gorman was hollering, and an echo came back: “No she’s not!”
“She’s losing in the polls!”
“No she isn’t!”
“A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf,” Gorman said, turning to a reporter who wondered why she and a handful of friends were holding up Bernie Sanders signs and confronting a few hundred Rutgers University students and other Jerseyites who had queued up to see Hillary Clinton make a speech on what felt like the nine millionth day of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The New Jersey Democratic primary was less than a week away, as was the vote in California that—even if Sanders narrowly wins the popular vote—will put Mrs. Clinton over the threshold of committed delegates and superdelegates that she needs to vanquish the Vermont socialist and his perniciously meddlesome crusade for economic fairness and free university tuition.
“From what I know of Hillary’s foreign policy, her domestic policy and her support for fracking world-wide, I think she’ll just continue the complacency,” Gorman continued, waving her Bernie 2016 placard.
“But if she wins the Democratic nomination, you’ll vote for her anyway, right?” she was asked.
“No,” said the Ph.D.
“You mean you’ll vote for Donald Trump!?!?”
“I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton merely out of fear,” Gorman said. “I think that it is wrong in a democracy to vote for someone just because you’re afraid of the consequences if you don’t.”
Trump, Gorman said, “has given Hillary Clinton millions of dollars over the years, so when you ask me if I would support Trump or Clinton, I don’t see the difference between them.”
“Do you think that Trump is really a sheep in wolf’s clothing—that secretly he’s a liberal?” (This was the IED that Texan-Canadian Sen. Ted Cruz and other conservatives tried to detonate during the Republican primary campaign. It failed to explode.)
“I wouldn’t put it past him,” Gorman said.
Inside the coliseum, which serves as the athletic centre for the inner-city satellite campus of the state university of the Garden State, there was a high-school marching band performing in 38-litre hats and white boots, and cheerleaders in gold lamé hot pants.
In truth, of course, it had not been nine million days since the former secretary of state formally declared her candidacy for the presidency—only 374. Within that span, the Donald had been released like a kraken on the Republican establishment, and Sanders had risen, through the force of his own stubborn and fantastical convictions, to become the champion of the children and grandchildren of his expiring generation.
Through it all, Clinton had remained what she always has been: distant, distrusted and disliked by a majority of Democrats and an even larger majority of Americans at large. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed her virtually tied with Trump on the national level.
Who, then, still was with her on Day 375? In Newark, it was union members, mostly, and Rutgers faculty and students who had been given blue T-shirts to wear and signs to hold up that said “Fighting for us.”
And, also, Jon Bon Jovi.
“We’ve come too far to let our tomorrows fall into the wrong hands,” the grey-haired rocker said, introducing Clinton to the tune of somebody else’s music. (It was Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song.”)
And the mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka, who told the crowd that Trump represents “the most vile, conservative, backward element of the Republican Party.”
And a retired accountant named Monica Chavez from nearby Jersey City, attending the first political rally of her life, who told Maclean’s that “when [Clinton’s] husband was president for eight years, she was also president for eight years, and that was the longest that America was ever at peace. We were at peace, the economy was good—what could be better?”
“Yes, there were scandals,” Chavez admitted. “Every president has scandals. Bill got caught.”
Bill, on this fine June day, was downstate at another New Jersey college campus, railing for his beloved before the couple would be jetting west, he to New Mexico and she to California for yet another showdown with Sanders and his impossibly beautiful promises. Her campaign announced that she would make a “major address” in San Diego on Thursday “to make clear the threat that Donald Trump would pose to our national security.”
“Why do you think that so many people think that Hillary is dishonest?” Chavez was asked. She did not reject the characterization.
“I think that, at some point, people need to withhold the truth, and that can be considered lying,” she answered. “Sometimes, the majority can’t handle the truth—it’s too complex. I don’t want the president to tell me every little thing that’s going on, because it could cause panic.”
Chavez noted that she had seen Jamie Gorman, Ph.D., and her Bern-feeling friends outside the arena, shouting imprecations at the former first lady and secretary of state.
“Bernie is my number two,” she said. “It would be so great if she picked him for vice-president.”
Then, fresh from a “Lawyers for Hillary” fundraiser in Manhattan, where the cost of admission and dinner ranged up to US$27,000 a plate, Hillary Clinton took the rostrum and called Donald Trump “a fraud.”
Her platform, as she outlined it, could have been labelled “Sanders Lite.” It included free tuition for two-year colleges, paid family leave, refinements to Obamacare, equal pay for women, a cap on child-care expenses at 10 per cent of a mother’s income. “I’m excited about this,” said Clinton, under the silver Golden Dome. “If talking about these issues is playing the ‘women’s card,’ then: Deal. Me. In.”
A thousand Jerseyites roared in approval. Not uttered even once? The name Bernie Sanders—as if there was no such man.