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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

the case against Clinton for beginners

I, too, find the Clinton supporters puzzling.

They are very, hyper-conscious of the incidents in the campaign, and yet surprisingly blank about what they want from Clinton as president. For instance, what kind of foreign policy do Clinton supporters want? Clinton’s experience – which is often touted as, simply, experience – is best exemplified here, as far as I can tell. As a senator from 2000 to 2008, I don’t see a lot of leadership on the issues of that dirty time. She seems to have been a standard Daschle democrat, and Daschle was one of the most feckless dem politicians ever to grace the national stage. Her stamp, however, seems very strong on the foreign policy of the Obama administration in its first three years. I think she is very proud of what she did. She’s proud of the overthrow of Qaddafi, she’s proud of the weapon sales to the Gulf states, and she’s proud of trying to push Obama to do a Libya like intervention in Syria – as she pointed out in the last debate. She is, in short, on the hawk wing of the D party, with an ideology that is pretty much like Joe Lieberman’s. She even defended the coup in Honduras, which is pretty amazing.
On domestic policy, she’s more to the left. For instance, it was pretty great that she made a deal out of the lack of questions about abortion. And yet, the Clintonian line on abortion – that it should be legal and “rare” – has been a disaster for abortion rights. If you really think it is the gov’s business to make it rare, it is hard to argue against the slew of laws that force women to view films, or get “therapeutic” advice, etc., before they get abortions. Jessica Valenti made this point in 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/09/hillary-clinton-abortion-legal-but-rare
As for health care, raising social security benefits, and government action to reduce wealth and income inequality – I haven’t any firm sense that she, on her own, has any ideas here. Rather, she seems to be pushed into ideas – for instance, she seemed to be pushed into opposing the TPP, even though she lobbied for it as a sec state, and she seems to be pushed into opposing fracking, though she, again, facilitated fracking around the world when she was sec state. She opposes Keystone, now, although she has close campaign associates, like Jeffrey Berman, who lobbied for it. To an extent, that she is pushable is a good thing – politicians, in a democracy, should be the pawns of an aroused populace. But her actions as sec state, and as a Clinton foundation something – what does or did she do for them? – and as a speaker, seem to indicate that she can be pretty easily pushed the other way.
The argument of Clinton’s supporters is that this is irrelevant. But I’m not sure why we are editing her experience while at the same time arguing that she is the most experienced candidate, and that this is a big plus over haplesss Sanders.
So, the bottom line is: what is in it for me? If I’m a member of a black household where the unemployment rate is still in the depression era digits and the median household wealth is five times less than a white household’s – is there going to be any change? If I’m a woman with two small kids and I’m not breaking glass ceilings but working as a cashier and uber driver, is there going to be a push for national child care? Is there going to be a strong push to overturn abortion restrictions popping up all over the place? Is the pledge to rid the water supplies of all american cities of lead in the next five years going to go down memory hole?
The argument against Sanders is that, though I’d benefit from what he advocates, he can’t pass what he advocates. But the argument against Clinton is surely that she seems not to advocate anything but stasis, baby steps in the style of the Clinton presidency in the 90s. That, to me, is a promise to waste the next four years,, or cede them to the ever more radical right.

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