So the inevitable Hillary Clinton ‘I’m running for president’ announcement came early this year, and the photo op of her speaking to throngs in NYC over the weekend of the ‘official’ campaign rollout provided the media buzz she wanted. I’ve been buried under all the expected blast e-mails from the fans of Hillary, plus all the vitriol of Hillary supporters who are longtime friends (mine, not hers) and who chastise me for my lack of interest in getting on the bandwagon. There’s a bit of weirdness in all of this insofar as we still have some 15 months of President Obama. As a conspiracy theorist, I have to wonder if part of the early “Hillary in 2016” excitement is about the DNC distracting the faithful from the fact that the POTUS is the lamest of lame ducks right now. With obstinate Republican majorities in the House and Senate, there’s not a whole lot left the president could do over the next year-plus even if he had the desire to embark on another initiative. He can’t even get the Senate to vote on his judicial appointments. It’s awfully early for people to be asked to choose up sides, but I’ve already made up my mind (made it up a long time ago, in fact). So let’s cut to the chase:
I do not care for Hillary or her politics. Not liking Hillary does not make me a Republican or a Tea Party supporter.
I have a laundry list of the things Hillary stands for that should disqualify her with progressives and liberals. Currently, the signature issue is that Hillary has been supporting President Obama on the most abusive trade deal in American history–the Trans Pacific Partnership. Volumes have already been written on this topic, so I will direct you here for details. There’s also the question of fracking. As Secretary of State, Hillary was very pro-fracking, pushing other countries to allow it. There’s more about the subject here. Hillary also seems to be bought into the ‘all of the above’ energy strategy of Obama (no friend of the greens)–that puts us on the path to near term extinction. One thing that the current news seems to be short on is Clinton’s take on the environment in general. Those opposed to the denialism in the GOP field over global warming tend to ignore the fact that the Democrats are not exactly gung-ho about taking the sorts of actions the world needs to take in order to head off catastrophe. George ‘Poppy’ Bush rejected Kyoto–but so did Bill Clinton.
But history also weighs in against Hillary Clinton. Remember that Hillary’s claim for experience during her campaign for NY Senate in 2000 was that she had been Bill’s co-president. I’ve noticed that people seem to look at the Clinton presidential era through the rosiest of colored glasses. But Bill put a number of balls in play that fed and accelerated the GOP’s war on the middle class. These include:
- NAFTA and GATT–trade deals that cost a minimum of a million US manufacturing jobs, sent millions of Mexicans north after their land was bought out from under them, and helped to gut US laws on environment and safety.
- The end of Glass-Steagall (and Hillary’s recent reluctance to re-institute it)
- The shredding of the social welfare safety nets. Bill’s vow to ‘end welfare as we know it’ has made life worse for the poor and has not solved the problems it was supposed to correct. What it did was put lots of poor people into an economic dead end.
- The institution of mandatory minimum sentencing for a variety of crimes, and the implementation of rules such as ‘Three Strikes’, which has put people behind bars for life for relatively minor crimes.
- Most perniciously, Bill opened the door for privatizing SS, something that no Republican could do before him. And Clinton presided over the gaming of cost of living for SS–adjusted for real inflation, social security checks are down 60% from what they could be thanks to the Boskin Commission ‘reforms’. None of this is secret, and anybody getting gooey eyed and nostalgic about the Clinton Years needs to get familiar with the ‘centrist’ DLC crap they used to undermine the Democrats of New Deal and Great Society sensibilities.
As for what Hillary did on her own over the years, there’s this, of course—Hillary sat on the board of directors of the most anti-union company in America. People forget that in the pre-WH years, Hill was a big wheel in Arkansas. If you’re a big wheel in Arkansas and your hubby is governor, you’re on the board of directors of Walmart. While in the Senate, Hillary never apologized for cheerleading the Iraq war. And prior to Obama’s deal with Tehran, Hillary was rattling sabers over attacking Iran. “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”
Robert Reich reviewed Clinton’s economic speech in June. His take? An A for understanding the problem. “You see corporations making record profits, with C.E.O.s making record pay, but your paychecks have barely budged,” she said. “While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, you see the top twenty-five hedge-fund managers making more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined. And often paying a lower tax rate. So, you have to wonder, ‘When does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead? When?’ … Exactly right.
That said, Hillary has said nothing about higher taxes for the 1%. And Hillary knows who is responsible for that hedge fund manager tax rate. It’s none other than her old bud and former Senate Colleague Chuck Schumer, who’s been protecting hedge fund guys from paying up for at least a decade. And when HRC finally decided when she was running for president (in 2007) that maybe the hedge fund guys should pay up, Schumer fought her every step of the way. The reality is that Obama (and Hillary) have been on the side of the plutocrats in NYC for quite some time.
And finally, nobody can discount the rumored tractor-trailers full of opposition research on Hillary that are allegedly sitting in a parking lot somewhere in Texas. My suspicion is that Karl Rove and company never stopped collecting info on Clinton, hoping that 2008 was an aberration and she’d be back. I know of a number of things that would probably disqualify Clinton for office, and if they made their appearance after the Democrats give her the nomination, there’s not sufficient land in all of Texas to cover all the backpedaling needed. Hillary will never occupy the White House again–and she might take down the whole party if she wins the nomination.
So (if you’re anticipating me), am I backing Bernie Sanders? Well, sort of… I will vote for Sanders if he makes it to the NY primaries, and I would vote for him in the general election. But I hold no false hopes here. The reality that Sanders would face as president would be the reality that would be faced by a president-elect Jill Stein of the Green Party or (in elections past) Ralph Nader or Ross Perot. They would have no base in the House or the Senate, and legislative incumbency means the chances of changing the country’s future in any substantially progressive way are virtually nil. Even Defense spending is safe–The ‘progressive’ Democrats in Ohio pushed through funding for the C27j even though every one of them will be flown directly from the Ohio factory to the Arizona ‘bone yard’. As for stopping the Wall Street Casino? Over Chuck Schumer’s dead body (see above). An end to unwinnable wars? Chuck Schumer (gosh he’s in this post A LOT) just jumped ship on approving the Obama administration’s deal with Iran over nuclear weapons.
This obstinance by both houses of Congress is also the best argument against electing one of the Pauls, btw–If either Ron or Rand wee elected, the most progressive parts of a libertarian platform (cutting Pentagon spending and decriminalizing private drug use) would go nowhere, while the Randian ‘throw the poor under the bus’ agenda would pass unencumbered.
Back to Sanders. I’m especially upset that my progressive friends from what’s left of Occupy Wall Street are endorsing Sanders, especially since Occupy Wall Street was dead set against such electioneering from the beginning. I talk about this in the latest version of a funny little play of mine (there’s the updated beginning here):
People like me supported Occupy starting three years ago because we were tired of growing economic inequality, we wanted to stop the wars and slash Pentagon’s spending, and we wanted to see the banksters do a perp-walk for wrecking the economy, looting our pensions and destroying the value of our homes. Nobody in government was paying attention to us, listening to what we had to say. And all those earnest, bed-wetting liberals told us ‘work within the system! Vote!’ like that would make things better. So three years later, and the police have been able to put Occupy out of business–the nice Liberals got their way. And now the inequality is worse, we’re talking about new wars while Obama is about to spend a trillion on upgrading our nuclear weapons, and the statute of limitations has run out on sending the banksters on a perp-walk. We won’t even arrest them when they launder drug money.
Here’s my point. What are the things people expect Bernie to accomplish as president?
End Citizens United? I’m pretty sure that takes a Constitutional Amendment, meaning solid majorities in both houses, PLUS three fifths of the states being willing to ratify. I think that’s a multi-decade process, and while it’s being fought, you have billions of dollars being spent to keep it from passing.
End Corporate Personhood? See above.
Medicare for All? Not when the health insurance companies, big pharma and the healthcare networks are throwing out all the stops to protect ‘Hostage Capitalism‘. In certain ways, the ACA made things worse by giving the insurance industry a PERMANENT seat as a stakeholder. You’d need an FDR style sweep of both houses of Congress to get this passed.
Stop militarization of the police/stop police brutality (especially against people of color)? Maybe it can happen, but you’d need pundits to stop yammering about how “9/11 changed everything”. I’ve signed the petition to demand the creation of a permanent special prosecutor at the federal level to look into the issues raised by Black Lives Matter, but any major change will involve sign-on by a lot of politicians who have no interest in changing the status quo.
TAX THE RICH? Bernie can’t make this happen on his own, and with Citizens United locked in (see above) nobody in Congress will push this.
FIX THE CLIMATE? I’m in the minority that thinks the climate can’t be fixed, but leave that aside for the moment. Even the optimistic climate science people are starting to use the E-Word. The solutions needed are far more radical than anything proposed by Jimmy Carter back in the 1970’s. And remember–Jimmy Carter was shown the door for proposing that we live with less. The Koch brothers and the Exxon/Shell/BP guys have stakes to the last of the world’s oil. Best guess is that we could extract another trillion barrels (burning it would of course doom the planet), but even at today’s price, that’s $42 trillion dollars. Will the plutocrats part with $42 trillion of assets in the ground not being dug up? Not unless you have a necktie party for them.
Again. I like what Bernie Sanders stands for. But I’m too jaded to think he could reverse the many irreversibles that the plutocrats have engineered into the system. The only way forward is something other than the ballot box.
While Jill Stein wouldn’t likely have a majority in congress but in the extreme circumstances under which she would win, would bring in a slate of Green Congressional candidates and scores of State Legislators.
In fact the key difference between a party and a lone “heroic” figure is that they’re running with a slate of like minded candidates from local office on up through congress.
The only disagreement was with welfare reform. It was George W Bush’s economy that made Clinton’s welfare reforms fail. Welfare reform was needed. Too bad corporate welfare reform wasn’t included.
Brian, I followed the 1996 ideological fight between Clinton and Pat Moynihan over welfare reform, and the one thing Moynihan said was guaranteed under Clinton’s proposal was that children would go hungry. What’s more, Clinton’s own stats showed that this was a foreseeable consequence of reform. “It is beyond belief in the middle of the Great Depression in the 1930s, we provided for children with a minimum benefit to keep them alive,” Moynihan said in introducing his bill, “and in the middle of a successful 1990s, with a $7 trillion economy, we’re going to take that away.”You can google this without too much trouble. Clinton tried triangulating, and the victims were a generation of children.