Mother Jones has reported that a team of right-wing crackpots is working on a film to attack former Secretary of State and Once and Future Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton. The centrepiece will undoubtedly be the non-scandal that was Benghazi, and we can expect the film to be substance-free, in common with most strands of right-wing hysteria.
However, just as their failed efforts in 2008 had a by-product that was the terrible Citizens United decision (corporations are people and money is free speech—the central platform of the twenty-first century Republican Party), their efforts before 2016 might have a similarly unintended consequence: the unchallenged election of Hillary Clinton.
Too many Democrats remain convinced today that they can chalk down election losses in 2004 and 2010 to the lack of discipline which supposedly defines them in opposition to the GOP, which marches in lock-step to the authoritarian strains of its thought-police, who deliver their message through talk radio and discipline their troops through the Koch Empire and similar ilk.
Democrats’ new inclination is to close ranks in the face of all criticism. And because too many Democrats are prepared to uncritically accept Hillary Clinton as the party’s standard-bearer in 2016, they are reflexive in defending her. The same money and networks which twice propelled President Obama to high office will likely do the same for Clinton who, if I read the signs aright, will have considerable backing from Wall Street if (when) she runs.
And progressives should look carefully at what a Clinton presidency might mean, given both her record and the things she is saying today. Entirely aside from her support for American terrorism, her backing of the Iraq War, and her hostility to the democratic uprisings in the Middle East that she sought to squelch when Secretary of State, Clinton needs to answer for the arguments she is advancing about our national economy.
Economic equality is increasingly recognised to be the foremost challenge facing our country today. The minimum wage looks positively paltry measured against the rising costs of living in the United States. CEO salaries have risen dramatically against those of workers and are today literally hundreds of times higher. The same interests which lobby our government to strip away protections for consumers and citizens—whether those are environmental, financial, or workplace protections—simultaneously lobby for massive corporate welfare packages to shore up their already stratospheric fortunes.
Social differences aside, both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street developed critiques of capitalism. The onslaught of winter, the disinterest of the media, and assaults by the security state chipped away at the latter, and the former were captured by the plutocrats, their grass-roots having been persuaded to turn themselves into a lobby for the very people under-cutting their quality of life.
Today, with the Obama administration belatedly responding to the public’s clamour for inequality to be addressed, the plutocrats are looking for friends.
And according to Politico, they have found a very good one in Hillary Clinton. The magazine reports that in her recent speeches to wealthy donors, Clinton “offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees”.
The critiques of Wall Street, Clinton reportedly assured the assembled elites, were “unproductive and indeed foolish”. Clinton has good reason to be putting forward this line which suggests that she doesn’t understand the link between plutocratic profiteering and the falling fortunes of the working class in the United States. She is paid, after all, as much as $200,000 for talking to firms like Goldman Sachs.
Clinton gave two speeches to Goldman Sachs, netting $400,000. But she is not nearly so accessible to the public or to the media which has the responsibility of reporting her words to the people who she will likely be asking for votes in due course.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently wrote about “Clinton’s moves to bar mainstream and social media coverage at major speeches”, documenting the restrictions the Clinton Cabal placed on both media and attendees. Clinton and her followers earlier shut down a serious investigative film which sought to document her political career. Political strategists read this as simply a case of the candidate trying to control the message. But when “controlling the message” involves shutting up the media, shutting down scrutiny, and shutting out the public, there is a more serious problem.
This problem is compounded when it is revealed that Clinton dismisses those who want to talk about inequality and the irresponsible behaviour of the financial sector as “foolish”, demonstrating where her sympathies lie and what short shrift the working class can expect from a candidate who has already sent their sons and daughters to kill and be killed in the imperial wars of the United States.
I can tell Mrs Clinton what is “foolish”, and also “insulting”: it’s when an aspiring presidential candidate, ostensibly representing a progressive political party, dismisses what should be her constituency and becomes a paid flunky of the interests who have consistently put their greed ahead of the well-being of the country.
Democrats should not defend Hillary Clinton reflexively. Instead they should reject outright the candidacy of the warmongering politician who has so transparently rejected their concerns. There are real progressives in the party—including the likes of Elizabeth Warren—who would take their responsibilities to their constituents seriously. Above all, they should avoid being marched by the Democratic Party machine into a scenario where their only choice is also the plutocrats’ choice.