The right-wing U.S. presidential primary for 2016 grew by one on Sunday when Hillary Clinton announced her entry into the race, bringing with her the massed support of a personalized political machine hell-bent on overwhelming the Democratic Party’s democratic process with a barrage of political intimidation and cash.
Predictably, most of the media have concentrated on the psychodrama of the politics, on the prospect of a female president (long overdue), and on Clinton’s chances in the presidential race.
Less focus has been devoted to the record that might make more critical commentators wonder why she is in the primary of a supposedly progressive party.
Hillary Clinton is a neo-conservative neo-liberal, and the charge-sheet against her should make her utterly unacceptable as a candidate, if not put her in the criminal court at the Hague.
As Senator, Clinton voted in support of an illegal, immoral, and transparently illogical war of aggression against Iraq. Whatever you thought of Saddam Hussein’s regime, this was a war launched in defiance of international law (the Nazis were prosecuted at Nuremberg for waging aggressive war) based on the flimsiest of evidence. It was a war that destroyed the livelihoods, infrastructure, and civic institutions of a country and its residents, and killed possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, while leading to the proliferation of international terrorism across the Middle East.
Clinton only reconsidered her support after the war became publicly unpopular, and is said to have remarked in private since that she only did so to be competitive in a Democratic primary in 2007.
As Secretary of State, Clinton agitated for the escalation of a purpose-less war in Afghanistan, becoming a key proponent of the U.S. War of Terror. The administration in which she served has made murder-by-drone a routine policy, and has killed hundreds and thousands of people on two or more continents on the basis of disposition matrices. This makes members of the administration complicit in this policy criminals who should be behind bars rather than seeking high office.
When democratic movements swept across the Middle East, the United States was presented with the opportunity to cast aside its tradition of supporting dictators and autocrats in the region. But Hillary Clinton made a strong case for supporting authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt, helping to frustrate, crush, or stall democratic movements in those countries and elsewhere. Within the administration, Clinton’s was always the voice calling for a violent foreign policy, whether in Libya or Syria.
She has continued to contribute to the destabilization of the Middle East in office and as a de facto candidate through her half-witted, un-thinking, unconditional support for the colonial regime in Israel, the actions of which serve the public interest of neither Israeli nor U.S. citizens, and impose an unpardonable burden on Palestinians who are denied the basic right to self-government that our own country won from the British.
Clinton has urged that the Israeli government be given a blank check, and has uncritically defended its colonial military when it murdered children in schools, offering no evidence to back the regime’s unsubstantiated claims that the schools housed militants. She has defended the regime’s policy of collective punishment, its settlements, and its attacks on U.S. sovereignty.
When Edward Snowden sought to shed light on the abuses of the U.S. security state, shielded from scrutiny by a quiescent political class and its predilection for telling outright lies, Clinton accused Snowden of helping “terrorists”, providing no evidence for a claim designed to distract attention from our government’s efforts to trample on the rights of our citizens.
In supporting a terroristic, imperialistic, militaristic foreign policy that does nothing to advance the public interest, and spreads violence and terror around the world, Clinton has undermined trust in government, in our public institutions.
And yet in other spheres, where a strong, democratic, public-spirited state is sorely needed, Clinton has sided with the growing plutocracy that seeks to upend our democracy and reserve for itself the rights that should be universally available to citizens of our country.
No friend to consumers, Clinton began to support punitive bankruptcy laws when she became Senator for New York, representing the state’s financial sector. In embracing and shielding from scrutiny the labyrinthine, secretive, behemoth that is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Clinton is mounting an assault on U.S. sovereignty that will likely damage consumers and our already-beleaguered labour movement.
At a time of near-unprecedented economic inequality, a grassroots movement for change swept the United States. Occupy transformed the dialogue around the distribution of wealth in the United States. With the launch of her campaign, Clinton has been careful to adopt the social democratic and redistributionist rhetoric that some of her more left-leaning colleagues have deployed.
But in private, Clinton was dismissive of Occupy, reassuring her audiences at Goldman Sachs that they would be safe with her from the calls for economic democratization. These interests, who Clinton pledged to protect, are those who have embraced Citizens United and other efforts to disempower the working class and strip citizens of their rights, enthroning corporate power in place of democratic power.
Clinton has used her liberal social views to begin to win over wavering Democratic voters. These are critical social issues, but Clinton’s emphasis on them belies her support for state terrorism, imperialism, militarism, and the devastating assaults being launched on the economic security of our country’s working and middle class, an assault which if successful, would render the real gains made in the social sphere in recent years utterly meaningless.
In the general election, Clinton will face a series of psychopathic, wind-up Republican candidates, who march in lock-step to the tunes hummed by the Koch Empire, and who have pledged not to even consider raising the taxes that are the means by which we sort out our economic, social, and moral priorities as a national community.
These right-wing radicals are opposed to the welfare state which provides the foundation for an equal society, and preach a coded racist, misogynistic, and fundamentalist message designed to tear our country to shreds to allow the plutocrats to plunder the public coffers with impunity.
Clinton and much of the Democratic Party’s leadership like to pretend that her assumption of the party leadership is simply a matter of course and that she is the only candidate who has the right to take on the GOP’s fanatics, in spite of the fact that much of her money comes from the same sources, in spite of her defense of the plutocrats, and in spite of her support for a depraved foreign policy.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There are serious candidates who represent serious ideological and moral alternatives who have the capacity to challenge Clinton and the Republican Party.
Elizabeth Warren has made it her work in the Senate—after founding an agency designed to shield consumers from exploitation by Wall Street—to chip away at the cosy little economic consensus that has sidelined the ideals of social democracy that give citizens of other countries around the world a quality of life far superior to what we have in the United States. Warren hasn’t pulled any punches in her attacks on Wall Street’s efforts to strip down our democracy, and has mounted a firm defense of the rights of labor, the decline of which has paralleled (and caused) the failing fortunes of our country’s working class.
Bernie Sanders, a socialist in the Senate, offers an affirmative, public-spirited vision of what government can accomplish, which is in marked contrast to the militaristic security state defended and constructed by Clinton and the Republicans. Having seen what the “Free Market” can do to a democracy, more and more of the public will be interested in an ideology which in a democratic setting promises economic as well as political equality, values the contributions of all members of society, and harnesses the power of the state for the public interest.
These people should, in the public interest, challenge Clinton, remind the public of her dreadful record, and seize the party’s leadership on behalf of the working and middle-class members of the Democratic and Republican parties who have been so poorly served by the right-wing consensus that has for too long dominated our country.
With a strong grass-roots movement and strong leadership, the United States could shift from being an imperial power based on systematic inequality and exploitation to a social democratic nation based on a commitment to equality at home and around the world.