Confessions of a Bourgeois Drama Queen

*** BESTPIX *** Hillary Clinton Makes A Statement After Loss In Presidential Election

Inside Hillary Clinton’s new book, “What Happened”.

As the title suggests, Hillary Clinton’s new memoir/post-election autopsy purports to tell, What Happened, i.e. how she lost the 2016 presidential election to a sexist, racist, xenophobic, thoroughly unqualified ignoramus, despite having outspent him two-to-one.

But, as Counterpunch’s Jeffrey St. Clair observes, one need not read any more than the book cover to “answer the question posed by the title: What Happened: Hillary Clinton.”

“Glutton for punishment,” St. Clair writes, “I took a masochistic dive into its dark pages, anyway.”

Indeed, throughout Clinton’s recent spate of interviews and promotional appearances, a frustrating contradiction has emerged. On the one hand, Clinton accepts “full responsibility” for her stunning, highly improbable loss last November. Yet, at the same time, Clinton continues to point to other figures—Bernie Sanders, James Comey, and the Russians, among them—that truly tipped the election to the Cheetos-skinned groper.

In other words, anybody looking for a genuine mea culpa or any sort of serious critical reflection from What Happened will be sorely disappointed. Clinton’s book is basically a 500 page version of the narrative the Democratic Party has been peddling since November. This narrative basically blames anyone and everyone for their loss–everyone, that is, except for, you know … the party itself.

The Democrats’ ever expanding rogue’s gallery of electoral “spoilers” includes the aforementioned Sanders and Comey, along with Jill Stein, Susan Sarandon, Vladimir Putin, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Sanders’ recalcitrant supporters (a.k.a. “Bernie Bros”), Facebook, “fake news,” Russian hackers, the media, and something called the “white working-class.”

(Suspiciously absent from this list is, arguably, the real culprit: The slave-owning Founding Fathers’ Electoral College. Only in the self-appointed, “world’s greatest democracy,” can a presidential candidate win the popular vote–in Clinton’s case, by some 3 million votes–and still lose the election.)

As I have previously pointed out in this blog, there is to date zero concrete evidence that Russian meddling influenced the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor.

Additionally, Clinton’s bogus smears of Sanders for “staying in the race too long,” are equally hypocritical. During the 2008 Democratic primary—the first time Clinton sought the presidency—she remained in the race long after Barack Obama had all but sewn-up the nomination.

Sanders, on the other hand, proved a far more dutiful soldier for the Democratic Party—a party which he is, ostensibly, not even a member of. Not only did he promptly endorse Clinton prior to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and went on to participate in 37 campaign events for her–Sanders even dismissively shut down his more committed supporters, who booed him during his DNC endorsement of Clinton.

Of course, Sanders’ supporters should not have been surprised by his apparent about-face. He made clear, from the beginning of his campaign, his commitment to supporting his “friend” Clinton, should she emerge as the nominee. Some “political revolution.” Indeed, Sanders’ should serve as Exhibit A for why the left cannot “take over” the Democratic Party.

Yet, it seems the joke may be on Clinton, given that Sen. Sanders is currently the most popular politician in the country. Clinton, on the other hand, is viewed less favorably than Trump. Indeed, to garner lower approval ratings than arguably the least qualified, least professional, most outwardly misogynistic, racist, xenophobic president in modern history is really an accomplishment!

Throughout the book, Clinton proves herself to be utterly clueless as to why, precisely, she lost what should have been an imminently winnable election. She remains completely out-of-touch not just with working-class Americans and their daily lived struggles, but with the general political zeitgeist in the country.

It would probably be naïve to hope Clinton might—just might—engage in any sort of critical reflection on the policies Bill Clinton pursued while in the White House—policies which she has continued to champion in her own political career.

Hillary Clinton offers no accounting for the much discussed North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which became a key rallying point for Trump on the campaign trail.

Nor does she offer any regrets over her husband’s 1996 welfare reform bill which fulfilled his promise to “end welfare as we know it.” There was also the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act—the largest crime bill in history. During the bill’s promotion, Hillary Clinton infamously referred to black youth as “super predators.” And she has little to say about the repeal of Glass-Steagall which directly paved the way for the 2008 economic crash.

All of these corporatist concessions undoubtedly played a role in the working-class backlash that contributed (at least in part; the true significance of the so-called “Rust Belt Revolution” has been largely overstated) to Clinton’s loss.

As Thomas Frank observes in his 2016 book, Listen, Liberal, Bill Clinton’s true presidential legacy may be that he—a Democrat—was more successful in passing some of the most egregious conservative legislation in decades, and rolling back the working-class gains of the New Deal, than any Republican president since Ronald Reagan.

“That a Democrat might be the one to pick apart the safety net is a violation of [the Democrats’] basic brand identity,” writes Frank, “but by the very structure of the [two-party] system it is extremely difficult to hold the party accountable for such a deed.

This, in turn, is why only a Democrat was able to do that job and get away with it. Only a Democrat was capable of getting bank deregulation passed; only a Democrat could have rammed NAFTA through Congress; and only a Democrat would be capable of privatizing Social Security, as George W. Bush found out in 2005. (Emphasis his.)

Frank continues:

… To judge by what he actually accomplished, Bill Clinton was not the lesser of two evils, as people on the left always say about Democrats at election time; he was the greater of the two. What he did as president was beyond the reach of even the most diabolical Republican. Only smiling Bill Clinton, well-known friend of working families, could commit such betrayals.

And this is to say nothing of Clinton’s hawkish approach to foreign policy, which she honed as secretary of state. This tenure included Clinton’s overseeing of the 2009 coup in Honduras, which deposed democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya. Clinton also helped orchestrate the violent overthrow and assassination of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, in 2011. She later boasted of Gaddafi’s death, “We came. We saw. He died.”

Again, Clinton offers no accounting for these acts or the fact that she and Obama expanded George W. Bush’s bogus “war on terror” tenfold.

But Clinton’s faults run deeper than her and husband’s legislative track-record. Her entire approach to politics—with her emphasis on policy specifics, bipartisan compromise, technocratic expertise and “triangulation”—are thoroughly out of sync with the current political moment. This is a moment in which voters are beginning to radicalize. They are demanding bold, radical changes to the very structures of American society–the sort of radical changes Sanders campaigned on. The fact that Sanders, a self-described socialist, received 13 million votes last year, speaks volumes to the growing opening for left politics.

The fact that Clinton’s brand of cautious, “centrist” governing is precisely what brought us to this point of extreme wealth inequality and social unrest seems entirely lost on her.

Clinton has always positioned herself as the adult in the room—the one with a “real plan” to Get Stuff Done. She has always been far more interested in the minutia of process, policy and the nitty-gritty details than the big picture, everyday concerns that ultimately drive voters to the polls. And this myopia, combined with Clinton’s own bourgeois lifestyle, prevented her from understanding the economic concerns that Sanders so successfully tapped into. Clinton frequently complained to staffers during the campaign that she did not understand “why voters are so angry.”

Throughout What Happened that populist anger continues to perplex her. She makes her outright disdain for Sanders and his socialist platform clear in her claim the Vermont senator was promising supporters free college, health care, “and a pony.”

“Bernie routinely portrayed me as a corrupt corporatist who couldn’t be trusted,” writes Clinton. “His clear implication was that because I accepted campaign donations from people on Wall Street—just as President Obama had done—I was ‘bought and paid for.’”

Clinton goes on to attack Sanders’ progressive proposals as “unrealistic” and lacking “political viability.”

She writes:

Bernie and I had a spirited contest of ideas, which was invigorating, but I nonetheless found campaigning against him to be profoundly frustrating. He didn’t seem to mind if his math didn’t add up or if his plans had no prayer of passing Congress and becoming law… No matter how bold and progressive my policy proposals were [sic] … Bernie would come out with something even bigger, loftier, and leftier, regardless of whether it was realistic or not. That left me to play the unenviable role of spoilsport schoolmarm, pointing out that there was no way Bernie could keep his promises or deliver real results.

“Was I doomed from the start?” Clinton wonders toward the end of her book.

Washington beltway reporters, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes seem to think so. Their behind-the-scenes expose, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign reveals a campaign team rife with constant in-fighting and staffers jockeying for positions.

The authors reveal how even in the early days of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, aides lamented that she could not articulate a compelling reason for launching a second bid for the White House. The team even toyed with openly admitting–and running on–what many Democratic Party officials accepted as obvious: It was “her turn” to be president.

But, during a real “change” election, in which voters were desperately looking for tangible improvements to their increasingly precarious living conditions, the rationale that it was simply Clinton’s “turn” hung hollow.

The real tragedy of the Democratic Party is not, as Frank contends, that it ceased being the “party of the people,” and shifted its focus to courting Wall Street donors and Silicon Valley. It is debatable whether the Democrats have ever truly been a party of the working class. No, the real tragedy is that the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama paved the way for Trump and his noxious brand of pseudo-populism, in the first place.

Sadly, this lesson is nowhere to be found in Clinton’s book. She would rather blame the Russians.

Editor’s note: Red Flag does not support or endorse any WordPress-sponsored advertisements that may appear on readers’ screens. This is another reason why workers, including writers, need to own the means of production–or in this case, the Internet.

If you like this essay feel free to share it widely (Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff…). Adam Marletta can be reached at adamd.marletta@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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The Folly of Lesser Evilism: The Socialist Case for Jill Stein

DEM 2016 Philadelphia
Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, speaks at a rally in Philadelphia, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, during the second day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

by Adam Marletta

The electoral strategy of “lesser evilism,” advanced by op-ed columnist, Wells Lyons in the Portland, Maine monthly, the West End News, has been the left’s default strategy for the last 30 years. And it has proved an abysmal failure every time.

Every four years, the left collectively throws its weight behind the supposed “lesser evil” candidate (i.e. the Democrat), arguing that conditions under the “greater evil” Republican would be “so much … WORSE!

But this simplistic distinction of “lesser” vs. “greater” forms of evil is rather misleading. It is, perhaps, more instructive to view the Republican and Democratic parties—both parties of capitalism—as two different kinds of evil.

Sure, the Republicans are more up-front in their absolute disregard for women, African Americans, immigrants, and the working class. Indeed, the modern incarnation of the GOP has long been quite unapologetic in its subservient role to big business and corporations.

The Democrats, on the other hand, at least offer the pretense of being on the side of working Americans (or, more precisely, on the side of some nebulous group they refer to as the “middle-class”). Since the years of FDR and LBJ, the Dems have positioned themselves as the natural ally of minorities, labor, and oppressed groups.

But, once in office, the Democrats inevitably pursue the very same corporatist, “neoliberal” policies as the Republicans, albeit with a more professional demeanor.

In fact, as Thomas Frank argues in his latest book, Listen, Liberal, Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have proven more adept at corralling bipartisan support for egregious corporatist bills like Wall Street deregulation, welfare eradication, the passage of “free-trade” deals like NAFTA, and the codification of drone strikes, targeted assassinations, and endless war which their Republican counterparts could only dream of enacting.

These programs have utterly decimated the working class. No wonder so many white working class voters (some of them former Democrats) are flocking to self-styled populist champions like Donald Trump.

As such, it is more instructive to view the Democratic Party not as the “lesser evil,” but as Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford puts it, the “more effective evil.”

“When they tell us … to get out of the way because we are standing in the way of the ‘lesser evil,’” said Dr. Jill Stein, upon accepting the Green Party’s presidential nomination on August 6 in Houston, “… the answer to that is that the politics of fear, which we have been told to bow down to, has only delivered everything we were afraid of.”

I will be voting for Stein on November 8, partly as a “protest vote”—a “None-of-the-above” option, if you will. But mostly I am voting for Stein because her progressive platform—which includes eradicating student debt, tackling climate change with a robust “Green jobs” program, ending wars for empire, and instituting universal, single-payer health care—comes the closest to my own socialist views.

I am not so naïve as to believe Stein can win the election. That said, there is a peculiar, self-fulfilling logic to Lyons’ claim that third-party candidates like Stein are destined to “lose badly.” If everyone who routinely tells me they “agree with everything Stein stands for,” was to take that agreement to its next logical step and cast a vote for her, she would not “spoil” the election. She would win it.

Even if Stein receives just five percent of the vote, the Green Party will be eligible for millions of dollars in federal funding. This would go a long way toward building the Greens into a formidable working class party that poses a serious challenge to the two Wall Street parties.

The Green Party is admittedly weak on both the national and local level–though some branches are, obviously, better organized than others. Here in Maine, the Greens have been crippled by a virulent combination of anarcho-liberalism and anti-communism. (The latter best exemplified by Green Party co-founder and retired Bowdoin College professor, John Rensenbrink.) And don’t even get me started on the three elected Greens on the Portland School Board who cannot even be relied on to support their own party’s candidates.

Nonetheless, we cannot hope to build a viable left-wing movement to challenge the racist, misogynist right by tying ourselves to the capitalist Democratic Party every four years. For evidence of how flawed a strategy this is, we need only reflect on how disappointing the last eight years under Obama have been.

As the radical historian, Howard Zinn writes in his classic treatise, A People’s History of the United States, “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but ‘who is sitting-in’—and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.”

While it is easy to see why Hillary Clinton looks like the sane, rational, “lesser evil” choice compared to the absurdly inept, sickeningly vile Trump, we have just as much to fear—indeed, perhaps even more—from a Clinton presidency.

Clinton—who is no friend of working class Americans—is the epitome of the Establishment, “Billionaire Class” Bernie Sanders railed against in his insurgent campaign. The list of Clinton’s “flaws” as Lyons dismissively calls them is exhaustive.

There is, of course, her vote for the 2003 invasion of Iraq (which, contrary to popular belief, Al Gore also supported).

As Secretary of State, Clinton oversaw the 2009 coup in Honduras which deposed democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, as well as the violent overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. (Clinton later boasted of Gaddafi’s death, “We came. We saw. He died.”)

Additionally, she played a key role in the destabilization of Syria and Yemen and is perhaps a greater Zionist ally of Israel than Obama.

Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy illustrates why it is so crucial the left reconstitute the anemic anti-war movement, which has all but folded under President Obama. It did the same thing back in 2004 when the left abandoned Ralph Nader’s independent campaign for the bellicose, John “Reporting for Duty” Kerry.

Things do not look much better on the domestic front, either.

Clinton’s alleged shift in position on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Stein has characterized as “NAFTA on steroids,” should be taken with a grain of salt. For Clinton’s true intentions regarding TPP, one need look no further than her selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate, whose political career is largely characterized by staunch opposition to unions, labor, and workers’ rights.

Yet, despite Clinton’s unyielding track record of imperialist, neoliberal policies, Lyons insists she would not represent an “existential threat” to the nation. Even assuming this claim to be true, it overlooks the fact that a Clinton presidency would almost certainly represent an “existential threat” to other nations—most assuredly in the Middle East. Yet it is those of us supporting the only genuine anti-war candidate in the race that are reprimanded for casting supposedly self-centered votes based on “privilege.” Indeed, the majority of the victims of U.S. military aggression are women, children, and people of color.

None of this is to diminish the very real danger Trump presents to the country and the world. I absolutely share Lyons’ concerns about this petulant man-child.

But, as of this writing, the Trump campaign is in full crisis mode, struggling to recover from the recent disclosure of a video of Trump caught making repugnant, misogynistic comments about women on a “hot-mic.” Polls have favored Clinton from the start of the general election, but now her victory is almost certainly assured.

Given this scenario, voters should be under no pressure to comprise their vote for the “lesser evil.” You may as well vote for a candidate you actually want.

Are there differences between these two highly unpopular candidates? Sure. But as Stein told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh commenting on the October 9 presidential “debate,” those differences are “not enough to save your life, to save your job, and to save the planet.”

As my comrade, Todd Chretien writes in the latest issue of the Socialist Worker:

The left can’t afford to surrender our organizations and ideas to the Democratic Party every four years in order to support the lesser evil–when it has been proven many times over by history that when you support the lesser evil to stop the greater evil, you usually end up with a combination of both evils.