I’ll never forget the celebration that overtook New York City on Nov. 7, 2020, when Joe Biden officially defeated incumbent Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States. My whole neighborhood exploded in parties and celebrations that swarmed so many streets of the city — and so many cities across the nation. There was a palpable sense of relief, all the sweeter when contrasted to the day Donald Trump won the election over Hillary Clinton in 2016. That day, it rained, and I trudged around McCarren Park in Brooklyn with a good friend as we wondered what the future would hold.

I’d like to take us back to 2016, but to a different version of it: one in which Trump lost and Clinton won. What would the world look like today if that had happened? 

Other than Clinton making history as America’s first female president, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Right now, I wonder how different might the US’s response to Covid-19 have looked under Clinton and a Democratic administration? The world may truly never know what she would have done and if lives may have been saved had a different person held the Oval Office, but what is true is that in 2018 the team responsible for pandemic preparedness was partly disbanded.

It’s quite possible had that not happened, America’s response to the pandemic would have been different: perhaps the debate surrounding masking, lockdowns, and vaccine promotion campaigns would have been handled with less controversy. Under Clinton, we probably wouldn’t have had a president who refused to wear a mask, adding fuel to the fire of anti-maskers. 

Other than Clinton making history as America’s first female president, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

But even further back, if Trump had not been elected, I would not have joined the 2017 Women’s March in New York, because it likely wouldn’t have been as necessary as it was at the time (not surprisingly under Trump, the #MeToo Movement was in full swing).

Politically, Clinton is the very opposite of Trump. To mention a few of her stances, she is pro-abortion, pro-marriage equality, and pro-DACA. Life might have looked so different under her administration that just reading this Ballotpedia entry about her campaign kind of made me weepy. 

Other potential differences involve the Supreme Court. At least two current justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, were appointed by Trump. If Clinton had won she would have been the person appointing both those justices, leading to a strong liberal majority instead of the current conservative, mostly-anti abortion Supreme Court.

If you’ve been following US politics lately, you’ll know that the Supreme Court was involved in a Texas case penalizing abortion providers after six weeks by…refusing to get involved and blocking the law. Now, they may be reviewing cases directly concerning Roe V. Wade, meaning abortion rights are currently on the line. When abortion rights are called into question, women’s rights themselves are at risk. Given Clinton’s stance on abortion, if she had been elected president we likely wouldn’t be having these conversations at all.

Of course, Clinton is not just a politician, but a human, and she would have made mistakes had she become the 45th president in 2017. Even Biden, whom we cheered and celebrated, has made critical errors: notably, the handling of the chaotic removal of US troops from Afghanistan, a lack of follow-through on campaign promises such as student loan forgiveness, and his failure in reducing the border crisis. 

No one can achieve all the promises they make as a candidate. And no one is perfect, meaning some of the promises will have flawed foundations. 

But here’s the thing: I believe in my heart of hearts that Hillary Clinton would have been a less destructive president than Donald Trump was. If for no other reason than the Supreme Court, which has outsized power in US politics, looking differently under her administration, we would have been better off had Democrats been victorious in 2016. 

We can’t change the past now. It’s written. All we can do is change the present to affect the future. And I hope the next time we face a chaotic election 2016’s, that we make the right choices. 

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  • Karis Rogerson

    Karis Rogerson is a writer and blogger in New York City. Raised in Italy and schooled in Germany and Kentucky, she proudly (and sometimes fluently) speaks 2.5 languages. Karis writes about books, interviews authors and cabaret artists, and explores topics of mental illness for various sites as well as her blog.