I worry about this because Clinton is not just the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. She has become a stand-in for establishment forces that are besieged by populism from the right and the left. She has the heavy responsibility of defending institutions that, despite their imperfect performance over the last 15 years, are essential for upholding global economic prosperity and preventing war.
If anything goes badly wrong in the world over the next four years — not terribly unlikely under any president, given all the upheaval in Europe and China — I’m worried that voters will look at the webs of influence surrounding Clinton and be more inclined to be suspicious that problems affecting their livelihoods have arisen because of self-dealing by elites.
And I’m worried that voters will then choose candidates in future elections who promise to tear down the useful institutions that many of us will be reluctantly voting for Clinton in the interest of defending.
This is no time to be casual about appearances of impropriety — a fact that Barack Obama seems to have understood in leading his low-scandal administration. I am worried that Clinton does not understand it, and that the result will be a boost to the damaging populism that is sweeping Europe.