Jonathan Klate: Not ready for President Hillary

Last modified: Monday, March 03, 2014
AMHERST — The prospect of another Clinton administration must render any real progressive disconsolate. I am not ready for Hillary.

As she glides a groove sprinkled with $200k speeches and the adulation of sycophantic celebrities and power brokers towards hoped-for coronation, you’d love to hear as clear a vision of a progressive utopia as prominent conservatives provide of a regressive one. But you will not.

Her coy non-declaration has sucked the air out of the party. Of course, sucking the air out of the political left is what she and her husband have always done. Bill C. was the candidate of the Democratic Leadership Committee with a mission to delink the Democratic Party from economic populism and move the center of the party to the right. He succeeded and her agenda mirrors his.

If you support Hillary you probably do so for one or more of these reasons:

• You would love to be able to vote for the history-making election of a woman for president.

• She is a competent manager.

• Every atomic particle of her past has already been dragged through the mud machine and she is still standing.

• Her principles on some social issues, such as freedom to marry and reproductive choice, are more in accord with your views than are those of any Republican likely to face her, as will be her judicial and administrative nominees.

• She out-polls leading Republican contenders and electing a Democrat — any Democrat — no matter how little they care about economic justice or an anti-imperialistic foreign policy, is all that matters.

• The specter of Ted Cruz or Chris Christie drives you to any viable refuge.

A 6,000-word piece in the New York Times about HRC’s prospective candidacy featured the personalities, fundraisers, celebrity supporters and inner and outer circles of consultants of her campaign — and nothing about her vision of what needs to be done and how to do it to address the suffering in our nation and our world.

Bill C. ran on the pledge to “end welfare as we know it” and presided over the demise of the 60-year commitment of federal income support for the poor and direct federal low-income housing support, transferring subsidies to the real estate industry, landlords and employers of low-wage laborers. He extolled the virtues of the death penalty, flooded the prisons and justified racially discriminating sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine. He rammed NAFTA through over the strenuous objections of labor. He privatized the student loan enterprise fueling the student debt crisis. He initiated “extraordinary rendition” and signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall Act banking restrictions. It is debatable whether a Republican president could have more thoroughly advanced Reagan’s agenda. Hillary repudiates none of this.

If you are OK with the strangle hold on the nation’s and the world’s economy by bankers, investors and corporate magnates supported by the spectacular immensity of the U.S. military that keeps the 1 percent thriving, billions suffering and wars of exploitation and domination endless, then the Clintons are your champions.

Did you take to the streets to oppose the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq while Hillary was gung-ho in its support? Well, she still is.

As Secretary of State during the Arab Spring, did you watch her push for stronger U.S. support for ruthless dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain, and the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara?

How do you reconcile her rhetorical support for the rights of women and sexual minorities overseas with an imperialist policy context that may have actually set back indigenous feminist movements in the same way that the Bush administration’s “democracy-promotion” agenda was a serious setback to popular struggles for freedom and democracy?

Can we still advocate for the world we believe we must create for all?

Is the only liberal option to support whatever Democrat the power brokers tell us is “viable” and “realistic” and can win at any cost to our principles? Why not instead encourage a candidate such as Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, or Robert Reich as part of a grassroots campaign of demonstration and non-cooperation with oppression and exploitation?

If you think opposing Hillary is idealistic, I say supporting her is cynical resignation. Have we given up hope for an egalitarian, ecologically sustainable world? Has our political imagination atrophied to the point that we no longer have the stomach for long-range organizing to bring about full employment, universal single-payer health care, free public higher education, free public transportation, federal housing guarantees and survival-level income security?

How much time do you think we have to radically change course?

Jonathan Klate of Amherst writes about spirituality and political perspectives. His column appears the first Monday of the month.