What Does Hillary Clinton Stand For?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
What does she really stand for?  (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

W.J. Astore

What does Hillary Clinton stand for?  It’s a serious question.  Sure, she’s given a lot of speeches, but without saying much.  I’ve watched the debates and have listened to her speak, and the best I can come up with is this:

  1. She’s continuing the legacy of Obama.  For example, Obamacare will be extended to cover all Americans.
  2. She’s going to break the glass ceiling that has blocked a woman from being president.
  3. She loves Israel and will support whatever the Israeli government wants.
  4. She’s going to work to raise the minimum wage for workers — $12.00 is the goal.
  5. She’s going to work against the TPP (after she was initially for it).
  6. She’s against the Keystone Pipeline (after initially supporting it).
  7. She’s fully for equality for the LGBT community (after initially being against it).
  8. She’s for an aggressive U.S. military posture and fully supports enormous defense budgets.
  9.  She’s not going to do dumb things like that scary Donald Trump.
  10. She’s got a lot of experience in government.  The length of her resume alone qualifies her to be president.

That’s the gist of her message as far as I’ve been able to discern.  Of course, there are other messages for her followers.  Surely Hillary will support reproductive rights, to include access to abortion.  Surely she will appoint justices to the Supreme Court that are somewhere to the left of Antonin Scalia. Such considerations shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

But a new path for our country?  Fresh ideas?  They’re not coming from Hillary. Important issues like campaign finance reform, reforming banks and other powerful financial institutions, reducing income inequality in the United States, and similar issues of reform and fairness are dead on arrival if she’s elected president.

Also, Hillary’s embrace of Henry Kissinger as well as neo-conservative principles in foreign policy ensures a continuation of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and locations throughout the Greater Middle East.  (When I first typed that, I unconsciously wrote, Greater Military East, because America’s engagement with the region is almost exclusively conducted in military terms, via bombing, drone strikes, and special ops raids).

The Clinton Campaign’s strategy of being fuzzy about specifics while vilifying her chief opponent (admittedly not difficult to do if your opponent is Trump) reminds me of a book I read many, many moons ago: “The Selling of the President 1968,” by Joe McGinniss.  What I recall from that book was the cynical process of triangulation and secrecy as well as the tight control of “the message” by Candidate Nixon and his cronies, the cagey and sleazy way Nixon and his campaign refused to engage honestly with the American people.  His campaign in 1968 foreshadowed the crimes of Nixon and his administration to come, most infamously Watergate.  At the root was an attitude of privilege, superiority, and entitlement, a sense that Nixon had paid his dues and deserved to be president.  Dammit, it was HIS turn.  And look at the length of his resume!

Much can be said about comparing Hillary to “Tricky Dick.”  Long political careers tainted by scandal.  High negative ratings.  A tendency by each to see vast right wing (or left wing) conspiracies, and therefore to compensate by surrounding themselves with trusted operatives, sycophants, and strap-hangers. A desire to appear tough, whether it’s about standing up to terrorists or communists.

After eight years of “No drama Obama,” perhaps the American people prefer a return to the paranoid style of politics of Richard Nixon — and Hillary Clinton.  A style that’s economical with the truth, led by a person who believes himself — or herself — to be the smartest and toughest person in the room.

But I already saw how that ended in 1974; I’m not voting for a repeat, even if the dramatic lead this time around is female.

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19 thoughts on “What Does Hillary Clinton Stand For?

  1. Excellent but chilling summary of all the reasons that, if HIllary defeats Trump (and I don’t think the American people are quite stupid enough to elect him) we’re all doomed. Of course things would be even more dire with Trump. The problem with the election, as someone wrote, is one of them will win.

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    1. What was omitted is she opposes Iran deal (as do Big Oil and whatever the Israeli government wants). Get ready for the return of $4 dollars $5 dollars a gallon.

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      1. Like Trump?? Corruption and venial greed does not exclusively reside in either the public or private sector. Both are rife with the rotting stench of corruption. Wake up. There is no libertarian fantasy of no government that will fix what is wrong with people.

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      2. As near as I can tell, Trump started out with money and made more of it. His is not a rags to riches story, but a riches to more riches story. And as he made his millions, he left a trail of lawsuits and bankruptcies in his wake.

        If Trump is an American “success” story, it’s an especially tawdry and sordid one. No wonder he felt at home on “reality” TV.

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  2. I wouldn’t count on her lifting a finger against the TPP, or forcing a veto override if it comes to that. A significant minimum raise increase won’t be in the offing either…a little lip service perhaps. Whether or not Keystone is dead in the water, her support of fracking doesn’t bode well.
    In the international relations department, Clinton is a hegemonic fool, sociopath, or worse. The belligerence toward Russia and China is particularly concerning, as is her complete disregard for human life in the Middle East.
    So it is tempting to vote for Trump out of spite for Clinton, but I can’t do that either.

    Jill Stein’ s campaign is worth fighting for. Should we shout? Should we scream? What happened to the post-war dream?

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      1. Hi Walt: $15/hour equates to a salary of $30,000 a year, which is above the federal poverty guideline for 2016 for a family of four. Paying people a living wage of $15/hour reduces the amount we as taxpayers devote to food stamps, Medicaid, and so on. It also gives workers more to spend, which should boost the economy.

        $30/hour? Well, why not, if an employer wants to be generous and can support such a pay structure. I made more than that as a professor and as a military officer.

        Sadly, the wisdom of my dad comes into play here. He told me the harder he worked (physically), the less he got paid. Thus he made the least when he was working mid shifts on the Christmas rush in a candy factory prior to World War II. Indeed, in an anecdote I’ve recounted, he had to organize and fight for a dime pay raise. A dime.

        Some of the toughest, dirtiest, most soul-crushing jobs in America are the least-paid. We can do better.

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      2. William.

        The Soviets gave it a good try – now oligarchs run the place. Same with Mao’s China. Observing from Pennsylvania fly-over country, the more complex the work/wage mandates become, the more work is driven under the table. And unrecognized income has the great benefit of not interfering with things like Section 8 housing, AFDC, Food Stamps, and so on.

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      3. I’m not sure what’s complex about a $15/hour minimum wage. And a $30K a year salary is hardly a king’s ransom.

        If we want people to live decent lives, to be able to pay for their own health care, to be able to buy their own food without relying on food stamps and other government handouts, we need to pay them more.

        I don’t think the answer is to keep the minimum at $7.25/hour and have people work two or three jobs for up to 80 hours a week just to be able to afford the essentials.

        In place of China and the USSR as examples, why not cite peer countries such as Germany or France? They seem to pay a living wage while still fostering a free market economy.

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      4. William.

        Imagine the size and complexity of the federal department of “Equal Pay for Equal Work,” hooked in trace with the federal department of “Fair Pay” – talk about your budget busters. And you can bet the civil servants so employed will not be minimum wage.

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      5. Walt: I’m not looking to enlarge any bureaucracy. I’m just looking for a higher minimum wage.

        By coincidence, I saw this article today, and will paste some of it below:

        http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/36404-minimum-wage-workers-can-t-afford-to-live-anywhere-in-the-us

        “The next time you hear someone moaning about Democrats trying to increase the minimum wage, hit him with this fact: There is nowhere in the United States that people can afford to live on minimum wage.

        Make no mistake: nowhere means nowhere. We’re not just talking the big cities where everyone already knows how outrageous rent is. According to data compiled by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there’s not a state or county in the country where the average price of housing is affordable to a person working full-time for minimum wage.

        The government classifies a fair, affordable rent as one that costs 30 percent of a worker’s paycheck. Sadly, the rate for a two-bedroom apartment in every county is far more than 30 percent. Consequently, parents and single parents especially are in a bind.

        If you’re thinking that minimum wage workers should settle for a decent one-bedroom apartment instead, that’s fair, but that’s also unrealistic. In most states, people earning minimum wage would need to work 60-80 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. In some states — Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York — minimum wage employees would have to work over 100 hours each week.

        Keep in mind that the average age of a person on minimum wage is 35. Moreover, 88 percent of people on minimum wage are over the age of 20. These aren’t just teenagers who still live at home — these are adults working full-time who ought to be able to afford housing.

        Obviously, most people working minimum wage jobs aren’t homeless, so how do you explain this discrepancy? Unfortunately, these workers have to cut corners in other areas to cover the cost of housing. Many use more than half their paycheck to cover rent, meaning they have to skimp on other important things like food, education, health care and heat.”

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      6. William.

        Truth-out writes advocating for a federal department of “Housing is a Right.” Imagine the size, complexity, and inevitable corruption of that budget buster – the Pentagon will pale in comparison.

        My wife worked years as a health care provider in an inner-city clinic and we often drive through the neighborhood. Some of the population living there is, in my opinion, marginally employable at any wage. Affordable housing though, assuming one can use a paint brush and scrub brush.

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      7. Walt: I won’t deny that some people milk the system for all it’s worth. But it’s not the poor who reap huge windfalls. It’s the very rich. Consider this comment by Peter Van Buren, who worked at the State Department for 24 years:

        “The one percent nailed things after the 2008 economic crisis (Throw them in jail? They got the government to pay off their financial malfeasance for them), pretty much ensuring their hold forever on power, even as we down here argue over what level of poverty a minimum wage should allow us.”

        I think this is exactly right. We’re arguing over the equivalent of my father’s dime pay raise, even as the richest milk the system for all it’s worth. But it’s harder to criticize them; they don’t live in sorry neighborhoods or in houses needing a scrubbing or a fresh coat of paint. Indeed, the rich don’t wash or paint: they can hire undocumented workers to do the scrubbing and pay them $7.25 an hour, if that.

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      8. I agree – with the caveat that the painters and scrubbers, perhaps illegals, will likely be paid under the table, while the contractor skims the cream.

        To me, painting and scrubbing can also be called “sweat equity.” My children will come to realize that the falling down farmhouse my wife and I bought in 1981 holds a lot of it. Minimum wage summer work (if there was such a thing at that time) as a plumber’s helper and carpenter’s helper paid off in other ways.

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  3. Gregory Herr — You ask: “What happened to the post-war dream?”

    An excellent question and entirely appropriate given the “bipartisan” corporate puppet show now masquerading as a nearly non-stop “election” in the United States. The late political philosopher Sheldon S. Wolin provides a comprehensive answer in Democracy Inc., Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism:

    “[The bipartisan corporate] antipopulist tactic marks a sea change in American politics. Recall that the administrations of Eisenhower and Nixon both followed periods of extensive social reforms that had primarily been the work of Democrats (the New Deal, 1932-1940; the Fair Deal, 1945-52; and the Great Society, 1963-68). Yet neither Republican president sought seriously to roll back programs that were widely perceived as beneficial to the country as a whole. That [government for the people] consensus prevailed until the Reagan election of 1980. Thereafter the consensus disintegrated and gave way to a radically different understanding. Rejected was the principle that what legitimized a government as democratic was not solely an electoral majority but the use of governmental power to serve the needs and aspirations of ordinary people. Instead the effort was undertaken — principally, but not solely, by Republican politicians — to hammer home the astounding principle that a democratically chosen government was the enemy of “the people.” Reagan promised, accordingly, “to get government off the backs of the people.” During the 1990s politicians of both parties educated the populace in antigovernment ideas. Democrats and Republicans alike then raced to see who could propose the most drastic cutbacks in social welfare programs. Government that had prided itself on serving the Many was dismantled in favor of “a leaner government.” Predictably this counterrevolution was made easier during the 1980s and 1990s by a spate of ideologically inspired, wildly exaggerated, and racially divisive attacks upon ‘welfare cheats’ and ‘Cadillac welfare queens.'”

    “The successful counterrevolution was doubly significant. Whatever the merits of corporate capitalism, it is not a system whose benefits are equally distributed. It is instead a system that, as a matter of course, produces striking inequalities. The results are evident in the grater concentration and extremes of wealth, a deeper divide between classes, in terms of health care and educational and cultural opportunities, than at any in recent history. The wide disparities serve to expose the counterrevolutionary strategy that motivates the champions of managed democracy.”

    Counterrevolution means, not a return to the past — the powers fostering it are too dynamic — but a closing off of a demotic direction and the nudging of society toward a different direction where inequalities will be taken for granted, rationalized, perhaps celebrated. Not the least of the counterrevolutionary conditions promoting cultural, economic, and political inequalities are the ingenious barriers that the Bush administration erected to prevent future administrations from alleviating inequalities. By enacting measures that according to virtually every account primarily benefited the wealthiest, and by amassing ever-increasing government deficits to astronomical proportions, that administration has effectively prevented a future democratically oriented administration from enacting social programs for the Many. The aim of the counterrevolutionary strategy is the permanent institutionalization of a counter democratic state. Meanwhile military spending is nearly four times greater than the expenditures on social programs; yet neither party would dream of proposing an amendment specifically limiting or controlling military spending — only one prohibiting same-sex marriage.”

    So, What happened to the postwar dream? Now we have our answer. Think specifically what it means when a “Democrat” like Bill Clinton chants 1990s right-wing slogans like, “The Era of Big Government is Over.” Think specifically what it means when a Corporate CEO Republican like Dick Cheney matter-of-factly claims, “Reagan taught us that deficits don’t matter.” Think specifically what it means when a so-called and self-styled “Democrat” like You-Know-Her proposes in 2011 that “It’s time to start treating Iraq like a business opportunity.” To slightly paraphrase and summarize what Professor Wolin has taught us: The thoroughly bipartisan counterrevolutionary strategy has succeeded in institutionalizing a counter-democratic state where neither corporate faction of the Corporate Oligarchy Party (COP) would dream of proposing an amendment specifically limiting or controlling military spending. Thus, astronomical war-budget deficits will continue to accrue far into the future making any democratic reforms impossible.. Yes. I think that about answers the question.

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  4. Rank opportunists like You-Know-Her “standing” for something? Kneeling, crawling, bowing, scraping, groveling, kowtowing, genuflecting — before mountains of corporate cash and/or cadres of apartheid zionist lobbyists — perhaps. But “standing”? I think not.

    From John Ciardi’s introduction to Canto III of The Inferno: The Vestibule of Hell – The Opportunists

    “The Poets pass the Gate of Hell and are immediately assailed by cries of anguish. Dante sees the first of the souls in torment. They are the OPPORTUNISTS, those souls who in life were neither for good or evil but only for themselves. … They are neither in Hell nor out of it. Eternally unclassified, they race round and round pursuing a wavering banner that runs forever before them through the dirty air …”

    “The law of Dante’s Hell is the law of symbolic retribution. As they sinned so are they punished. They took no sides, therefore they are given no place. As they pursued the ever-shifting illusion of their own advantage, changing their courses with every changing wind, so they pursue eternally an elusive, ever changing banner. As their sin was a darkness, so they move in darkness. …”

    Hence, something I wrote a decade ago during You-Know-Her’s second campaign for the U.S. Senate — in anticipation of her several later attempts to gain the Presidency of the United States — asking this question, preposterous in its own oxymoronic terms: “What does a rank, fence-sitting opportunist like You-Know-Her “stand for” except naked, vain ambition itself?

    From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley (lines 197-238)

    Sandbagging Fence Sitters

    In Canto Three the poet Dante wrote
    Of opportunists never taking sides
    But only calculating how to float

    Upon the waves of ever-shifting tides
    Thus while the crew wash overboard and drown
    The chance for opportunism abides:

    A tame and tepid course to safe renown
    Triangulating through the doldrums’ calm,
    With gaping mouths a grinning rictus frown,

    The body of the nation they embalm
    With their limp, lifeless, bloodless boring air
    The poor they toss a single, dented alm

    While preaching power-partner pathos there,
    And for the price of one proffer a pair

    So now the GIs die or lose their legs
    And arms and hands and fingers once of use,
    Which senseless waste this simple question begs:

    Why do our soldiers suffer such abuse
    From their own “leaders” absent without leave
    Who bravely bray their slogans so obtuse?

    Instead of making less poor souls to grieve
    Our politician proudly stoops to wipe
    The tears of crocodiles from off her sleeve,

    And then repeats her clucking, hawkish tripe:
    A fetid filthy breeze that only blows
    Around a war-slut used too much to gripe;

    A virtue lost so long ago it shows;
    A rank weed that around the tombstone grows

    But still she tries to amplify the sound
    Of yet another war for Israel,
    Forgetting our dead soldiers in the ground

    Who never lived much life before they fell
    In service to a cause no one explained
    Which she endorsed but never chose to tell

    Precisely what this loss for us has gained
    A leper innocent without a clue
    She stumbles blindly through a world now stained

    By her desire to stick like gruesome glue
    To wars of choice she says we must begin
    For fear that those who duped her will construe

    Her silly game as one that she’ll not win
    She cannot call it “rape” for she gave in

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006

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  5. Being Canadian I have no vote whatsoever concerning the primaries or next presidential election but having to live on the same planet as the U.S. it is of great concern to me. Though I’m fairly certain that a trump presidency would be a disaster I’m not really convinced that Clinton would be any better. Her past record and the team she has around her terrify me. At the moment the thing that gives me the most hope that, if elected, her reign might not destroy the world is that Kissenger seems to have some influence on her. Just consider how messed up that is. Kissenger is one of the very few people I consider to be truly evil. He has massive amounts of blood on his hands. Unlike most of the current neocon foreign policy nutjobs though, I don’t think he’s crazy enough to chance starting a global nuclear war. I’ve also noticed that most of the things we’re supposed to be afraid of Trump doing if he becomes president seem to consist of things Hillary has done too or that the current administration is doing.

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