Hillary Clinton just can’t win: Democrats need to accept that only Bernie Sanders can defeat the GOP
As Reich points out in his article, America is already a nation of Democratic-Socialists, but many of us (Democrats and Republicans) simply uphold “excessive socialism for the rich.”
As Reich points out in his article, America is already a nation of Democratic-Socialists, but many of us (Democrats and Republicans) simply uphold “excessive socialism for the rich.”
When Bernie Talks about Democratic Socialism he is referring to the safe and effective models being implemented by countries such as Denmark & Sweden & America i.e. stuff that helps society and thus termed "socialist". This isn't the same as communist or the economics definition of socialism. This is democratic socialism or an interpretation of what Article 1 Section 8 is saying when it says taxes must be decided upon for the general welfare of Citizens. There is a huge misunderstanding of the word and it doesn't seem to be getting any better.
Link: Bernie Sanders explains democratic socialism (see a full video with transcript below)
Article: Sanders: When I Talk About Democratic Socialism, I'm Talking About Social Security
Salon: The 12 best reasons to be a democratic socialist - Bernie's latest speech is a triumph -- and a reminder that our greatest domestic programs are rooted in socialism
Link (blog post): Jon Stewart (Daily Show) Investigated How These "Socialist: Countries Work;
When free public school (1-12) was announced, I'm sure there was an opposition to it. But having an educated youth helps us. When social security for the elderly was announced there was opposition to it (& still is by the Koch Brothers) but is now generally considered to be a good idea (especially by those who don't want to see elderly people die-ing in the streets... churches can handle only so much before they are overwhelmed). Medicare was opposed as communism but is now considered to be a good idea. Why is this all a good idea? Because social safety nets allows society to keep knitted together and this frees up the youth from having to take care of the elderly. More freedom for youth with more education means we will have an increase in productivity which will boost our economy tremendously over a long period of time (10-15-20 years).
Fox News doesn't talk of democratic socialism the same way and Hillary, in her quest to win the Presidency, has adopted this strategy from the GOP/Fox News and since CNN is more concerned with getting along with the rich so they can fulfill their fantasies of being like an aristocracy (which they act like quite effectively),
To Recap, EVEN ... CNN declared that Bernie Sanders's Utopia was in Denmark:
Copenhagen, Denmark (CNN)Open a newspaper on any given day here in this small Europe nation known for high taxes, generous government services and its stubbornly happy citizens, and you'll almost certainly find a story about the U.S. presidential election.
The Danes are following the race with an astounding level of enthusiasm and interest in part because Bernie Sanders, one of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, won't stop talking about them.
Sanders has proudly adopted the label of a "democratic socialist," and he has pointed to Denmark as a model for his vision of an ideal American future.
At a presidential debate hosted by CNN in October, Sanders brought up Denmark and the surrounding Scandinavian states when asked to describe what "democratic socialism" means to him.
"I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway," Sanders said, "and learn what they have accomplished for their working people."
Bernie SandersVideo Article: Bernie Sanders on Democratic Socialism IN The United States
In his inaugural remarks in January 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt looked out at the nation and this is what he saw.
He saw tens of millions of its citizens denied the basic necessities of life.
He saw millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hung over them day by day.
He saw millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.
He saw millions lacking the means to buy the products they needed and by their poverty and lack of disposable income denying employment to many other millions.
He saw one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.
And he acted. Against the ferocious opposition of the ruling class of his day, people he called economic royalists, Roosevelt implemented a series of programs that put millions of people back to work, took them out of poverty and restored their faith in government. He redefined the relationship of the federal government to the people of our country. He combatted cynicism, fear and despair. He reinvigorated democracy. He transformed the country.
And that is what we have to do today.
And, by the way, almost everything he proposed was called “socialist.” Social Security, which transformed life for the elderly in this country was “socialist.” The concept of the “minimum wage” was seen as a radical intrusion into the marketplace and was described as “socialist.” Unemployment insurance, abolishing child labor, the 40-hour work week, collective bargaining, strong banking regulations, deposit insurance, and job programs that put millions of people to work were all described, in one way or another, as “socialist.” Yet, these programs have become the fabric of our nation and the foundation of the middle class.
Thirty years later, in the 1960s, President Johnson passed Medicare and Medicaid to provide health care to millions of senior citizens and families with children, persons with disabilities and some of the most vulnerable people in this county. Once again these vitally important programs were derided by the right wing as socialist programs that were a threat to our American way of life.
That was then. Now is now.
Today, in 2015, despite the Wall Street crash of 2008, which drove this country into the worst economic downturn since the Depression, the American people are clearly better off economically than we were in 1937.
But, here is a very hard truth that we must acknowledge and address. Despite a huge increase in technology and productivity, despite major growth in the U.S. and global economy, tens of millions of American families continue to lack the basic necessities of life, while millions more struggle every day to provide a minimal standard of living for their families. The reality is that for the last 40 years the great middle class of this country has been in decline and faith in our political system is now extremely low.
The rich get much richer. Almost everyone else gets poorer. Super PACs funded by billionaires buy elections. Ordinary people don’t vote. We have an economic and political crisis in this country and the same old, same old establishment politics and economics will not effectively address it.
If we are serious about transforming our country, if we are serious about rebuilding the middle class, if we are serious about reinvigorating our democracy, we need to develop a political movement which, once again, is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation. The billionaire class cannot have it all. Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the one percent.
We need to create a culture which, as Pope Francis reminds us, cannot just be based on the worship of money. We must not accept a nation in which billionaires compete as to the size of their super-yachts, while children in America go hungry and veterans sleep out on the streets.
Today, in America, we are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, but few Americans know that because so much of the new income and wealth goes to the people on top. In fact, over the last 30 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth – trillions of wealth – going from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent – a handful of people who have seen a doubling of the percentage of the wealth they own over that period.
Unbelievably, and grotesquely, the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns nearly as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
Today, in America, millions of our people are working two or three jobs just to survive. In fact, Americans work longer hours than do the people of any industrialized country. Despite the incredibly hard work and long hours of the American middle class, 58 percent of all new income generated today is going to the top one percent.
Today, in America, as the middle class continues to disappear, median family income, is $4,100 less than it was in 1999. The median male worker made over $700 less than he did 42 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. Last year, the median female worker earned more than $1,000 less than she did in 2007.
Today, in America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, more than half of older workers have no retirement savings – zero – while millions of elderly and people with disabilities are trying to survive on $12,000 or $13,000 a year. From Vermont to California, older workers are scared to death. “How will I retire with dignity?,” they ask?
Today, in America, nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty and over 20 percent of our children, including 36 percent of African American children, are living in poverty — the highest rate of childhood poverty of nearly any major country on earth.
Today, in America, 29 million Americans have no health insurance and even more are underinsured with outrageously high co-payments and deductibles. Further, with the United States paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, 1 out of 5 patients cannot afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors write.
Today, in America, youth unemployment and underemployment is over 35 percent. Meanwhile, we have more people in jail than any other country and countless lives are being destroyed as we spend $80 billion a year locking up fellow Americans.
The bottom line is that today in America we not only have massive wealth and income inequality, but a power structure which protects that inequality. A handful of super-wealthy campaign contributors have enormous influence over the political process, while their lobbyists determine much of what goes on in Congress.
In 1944, in his State of the Union speech, President Roosevelt outlined what he called a second Bill of Rights. This is one of the most important speeches ever made by a president but, unfortunately, it has not gotten the attention that it deserves.
In that remarkable speech this is what Roosevelt stated, and I quote: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men.” End of quote. In other words, real freedom must include economic security. That was Roosevelt’s vision 70 years ago. It is my vision today. It is a vision that we have not yet achieved. It is time that we did.
In that speech, Roosevelt described the economic rights that he believed every American was entitled to: The right to a decent job at decent pay, the right to adequate food, clothing, and time off from work, the right for every business, large and small, to function in an atmosphere free from unfair competition and domination by monopolies. The right of all Americans to have a decent home and decent health care.
What Roosevelt was stating in 1944, what Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in similar terms 20 years later and what I believe today, is that true freedom does not occur without economic security.
People are not truly free when they are unable to feed their family. People are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity. People are not truly free when they are unemployed or underpaid or when they are exhausted by working long hours. People are not truly free when they have no health care.
So let me define for you, simply and straightforwardly, what democratic socialism means to me. It builds on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans. And it builds on what Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1968 when he stated that; “This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.” It builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.
Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.
Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.
It is a system, for example, which during the 1990s allowed Wall Street to spend $5 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions to get deregulated. Then, ten years later, after the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior of Wall Street led to their collapse, it is a system which provided trillions in government aid to bail them out. Wall Street used their wealth and power to get Congress to do their bidding for deregulation and then, when their greed caused their collapse, they used their wealth and power to get Congress to bail them out. Quite a system!
And, then, to add insult to injury, we were told that not only were the banks too big to fail, the bankers were too big to jail. Kids who get caught possessing marijuana get police records. Wall Street CEOs who help destroy the economy get raises in their salaries. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant by socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.
In my view, it’s time we had democratic socialism for working families, not just Wall Street, billionaires and large corporations. It means that we should not be providing welfare for corporations, huge tax breaks for the very rich, or trade policies which boost corporate profits as workers lose their jobs. It means that we create a government that works for works for all of us, not just powerful special interests. It means that economic rights must be an essential part of what America stands for.
It means that health care should be a right of all people, not a privilege. This is not a radical idea. It exists in every other major country on earth. Not just Denmark, Sweden or Finland. It exists in Canada, France, Germany and Taiwan. That is why I believe in a Medicare-for-all single payer health care system. Yes. The Affordable Care Act, which I helped write and voted for, is a step forward for this country. But we must build on it and go further.
Medicare for all would not only guarantee health care for all people, not only save middle class families and our entire nation significant sums of money, it would radically improve the lives of all Americans and bring about significant improvements in our economy.
People who get sick will not have to worry about paying a deductible or making a co-payment. They could go to the doctor when they should, and not end up in the emergency room. Business owners will not have to spend enormous amounts of time worrying about how they are going to provide health care for their employees. Workers will not have to be trapped in jobs they do not like simply because their employers are offering them decent health insurance plans. Instead, they will be able to pursue the jobs and work they love, which could be an enormous boon for the economy. And by the way, moving to a Medicare for all program will end the disgrace of Americans paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
Democratic socialism means that, in the year 2015, a college degree is equivalent to what a high school degree was 50 years ago – and that public education must allow every person in this country, who has the ability, the qualifications and the desire, the right to go to a public colleges or university tuition free. This is also not a radical idea. It exists today in many countries around the world. In fact, it used to exist in the United States.
Democratic socialism means that our government does everything it can to create a full employment economy. It makes far more sense to put millions of people back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, than to have a real unemployment rate of almost 10%. It is far smarter to invest in jobs and educational opportunities for unemployed young people, than to lock them up and spend $80 billion a year through mass incarceration.
Democratic socialism means that if someone works forty hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty: that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage – $15 an hour over the next few years. It means that we join the rest of the world and pass the very strong Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation now in Congress. How can it possibly be that the United States, today, is virtually the only nation on earth, large or small, which does not guarantee that a working class woman can stay home for a reasonable period of time with her new-born baby? How absurd is that?
Democratic socialism means that we have government policy which does not allow the greed and profiteering of the fossil fuel industry to destroy our environment and our planet, and that we have a moral responsibility to combat climate change and leave this planet healthy and habitable for our kids and grandchildren.
Democratic socialism means, that in a democratic, civilized society the wealthiest people and the largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes. Yes. Innovation, entrepreneurship and business success should be rewarded. But greed for the sake of greed is not something that public policy should support. It is not acceptable that in a rigged economy in the last two years the wealthiest 15 Americans saw their wealth increase by $170 billion, more wealth than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans. Let us not forget what Pope Francis has so elegantly stated; “We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”
It is not acceptable that major corporations stash their profits in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens to avoid paying $100 billion in taxes each and every year. It is not acceptable that hedge fund managers pay a lower effective tax rate than nurses or truck drivers. It is not acceptable that billionaire families are able to leave virtually all of their wealth to their families without paying a reasonable estate tax. It is not acceptable that Wall Street speculators are able to gamble trillions of dollars in the derivatives market without paying a nickel in taxes on those transactions.
Democratic socialism, to me, does not just mean that we must create a nation of economic and social justice. It also means that we must create a vibrant democracy based on the principle of one person one vote. It is extremely sad that the United States, one of the oldest democracies on earth, has one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major country, and that millions of young and working class people have given up on our political system entirely. Every American should be embarrassed that in our last national election 63% of the American people, and 80% of young people, did not vote. Clearly, despite the efforts of many Republican governors to suppress the vote, we must make it easier for people to participate in the political process, not harder. It is not too much to demand that everyone 18 years of age is registered to vote – end of discussion.
Further, it is unacceptable that we have a corrupt campaign finance system which allows millionaires, billionaires and large corporations to contribute as much as they want to Super Pacs to elect candidates who will represent their special interests. We must overturn Citizens United and move to public funding of elections.
So the next time you hear me attacked as a socialist, remember this:
I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.
I believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America instead of shipping jobs and profits overseas.
I believe that most Americans can pay lower taxes – if hedge fund managers who make billions manipulating the marketplace finally pay the taxes they should.
I don’t believe in special treatment for the top 1%, but I do believe in equal treatment for African-Americans who are right to proclaim the moral principle that Black Lives Matter.
I despise appeals to nativism and prejudice, and I do believe in immigration reform that gives Hispanics and others a pathway to citizenship and a better life.
I don’t believe in some foreign “ism”, but I believe deeply in American idealism.
I’m not running for president because it’s my turn, but because it’s the turn of all of us to live in a nation of hope and opportunity not for some, not for the few, but for all.
No one understood better than FDR the connection between American strength at home and our ability to defend America at home and across the world. That is why he proposed a second Bill of Rights in 1944, and said in that State of the Union:
“America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”
I’m not running to pursue reckless adventures abroad, but to rebuild America’s strength at home. I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will never send our sons and daughters to war under false pretense or pretenses or into dubious battles with no end in sight.
And when we discuss foreign policy, let me join the people of Paris in mourning their loss, and pray that those who have been wounded will enjoy a full recovery. Our hearts also go out to the families of the hundreds of Russians apparently killed by an ISIS bomb on their flight, and those who lost their lives to terrorist attacks in Lebanon and elsewhere.
To my mind, it is clear that the United States must pursue policies to destroy the brutal and barbaric ISIS regime, and to create conditions that prevent fanatical extremist ideologies from flourishing. But we cannot – and should not – do it alone.
Our response must begin with an understanding of past mistakes and missteps in our previous approaches to foreign policy. It begins with the acknowledgment that unilateral military action should be a last resort, not a first resort, and that ill-conceived military decisions, such as the invasion of Iraq, can wreak far-reaching devastation and destabilize entire regions for decades. It begins with the reflection that the failed policy decisions of the past – rushing to war, regime change in Iraq, or toppling Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or Guatemalan President Árbenz in 1954, Brazilian President Goulart in 1964, Chilean President Allende in 1973. These are the sorts of policies do not work, do not make us safer, and must not be repeated.
After World War II, in response to the fear of Soviet aggression, European nations and the United States established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – an organization based on shared interests and goals and the notion of a collective defense against a common enemy. It is my belief that we must expand on these ideals and solidify our commitments to work together to combat the global threat of terror.
We must create an organization like NATO to confront the security threats of the 21st century – an organization that emphasizes cooperation and collaboration to defeat the rise of violent extremism and importantly to address the root causes underlying these brutal acts. We must work with our NATO partners, and expand our coalition to include Russia and members of the Arab League.
But let’s be very clear. While the U.S. and other western nations have the strength of our militaries and political systems, the fight against ISIS is a struggle for the soul of Islam, and countering violent extremism and destroying ISIS must be done primarily by Muslim nations – with the strong support of their global partners.
These same sentiments have been echoed by those in the region. Jordan’s King Abdallah II said in a speech on Sunday that terrorism is the “greatest threat to our region” and that Muslims must lead the fight against it. He noted that confronting extremism is both a regional and international responsibility, and that it is incumbent on Muslim nations and communities to confront those who seek to hijack their societies and generations with intolerance and violent ideology.
And let me congratulate King Abdallah not only for his wise remarks, but also for the role that his small country is playing in attempting to address the horrific refugee crisis in the region.
A new and strong coalition of Western powers, Muslim nations, and countries like Russia must come together in a strongly coordinated way to combat ISIS, to seal the borders that fighters are currently flowing across, to share counter-terrorism intelligence, to turn off the spigot of terrorist financing, and to end support for exporting radical ideologies.
What does all of this mean? Well, it means that, in many cases, we must ask more from those in the region. While Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon have accepted their responsibilities for taking in Syrian refugees, other countries in the region have done nothing or very little.
Equally important, and this is a point that must be made – countries in the region like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE – countries of enormous wealth and resources – have contributed far too little in the fight against ISIS. That must change. King Abdallah is absolutely right when he says that that the Muslim nations must lead the fight against ISIS, and that includes some of the most wealthy and powerful nations in the region, who, up to this point have done far too little.
Saudi Arabia has the 3rd largest defense budget in the world, yet instead of fighting ISIS they have focused more on a campaign to oust Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Kuwait, a country whose ruling family was restored to power by U.S. troops after the first Gulf War, has been a well-known source of financing for ISIS and other violent extremists. It has been reported that Qatar will spend $200 billion on the 2022 World Cup, including the construction of an enormous number of facilities to host that event – $200 billion on hosting a soccer event, yet very little to fight against ISIS. Worse still, it has been widely reported that the government has not been vigilant in stemming the flow of terrorist financing, and that Qatari individuals and organizations funnel money to some of the most extreme terrorist groups, including al Nusra and ISIS.
All of this has got to change. Wealthy and powerful Muslim nations in the region can no longer sit on the sidelines and expect the United States to do their work for them. As we develop a strongly coordinated effort, we need a commitment from these countries that the fight against ISIS takes precedence over the religious and ideological differences that hamper the kind of cooperation that we desperately need.
Further, we all understand that Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator who has slaughtered many of his own people. I am pleased that we saw last weekend diplomats from all over world, known as the International Syria Support Group, set a timetable for a Syrian-led political transition with open and fair elections. These are the promising beginnings of a collective effort to end the bloodshed and to move to political transition.
The diplomatic plan for Assad’s transition from power is a good step in a united front. But our priority must be to defeat ISIS. Nations all over the world, who share a common interest in protecting themselves against international terrorist, must make the destruction of ISIS the highest priority. Nations in the region must commit – that instead of turning a blind eye — they will commit their resources to preventing the free flow of terrorist finances and fighters to Syria and Iraq. We need a commitment that they will counter the violent rhetoric that fuels terrorism – rhetoric that often occurs within their very borders.
This is the model in which we must pursue solutions to the sorts of global threats we face.
While individual nations indeed have historic disputes – the U.S. and Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia – the time is now to put aside those differences to work towards a common purpose of destroying ISIS. Sadly, as we have seen recently, no country is immune from attacks by the violent organization or those whom they have radicalized.
Thus, we must work with our partners in Europe, the Gulf states, Africa, and Southeast Asia – all along the way asking the hard questions whether their actions are serving our unified purpose.
The bottom line is that ISIS must be destroyed, but it cannot be defeated by the United States alone. A new and effective coalition must be formed with the Muslim nations leading the effort on the ground, while the United States and other major forces provide the support they need.
A respected political insider recently told me most Americans are largely content. “The economy is in good shape,” he said. “Most Americans are better off than they’ve been in years. The problem has been the major candidates themselves.”
I beg to differ.
Economic indicators may be up but they don’t reflect the economic insecurity most Americans still feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and unfairness they experience.
Nor do the major indicators show the linkages Americans see between wealth and power, crony capitalism, declining real wages, soaring CEO pay, and a billionaire class that’s turning our democracy into an oligarchy.
Median family income lower now than it was sixteen years ago, adjusted for inflation.
Most economic gains, meanwhile, have gone to top.
These gains have translated into political power to rig the system with bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, special tax loopholes, trade deals, and increasing market power – all of which have further pushed down wages pulled up profits.
Those at the very top of the top have rigged the system even more thoroughly. Since 1995, the average income tax rate for the 400 top-earning Americans has plummetedfrom 30 percent to 17 percent.
Wealth, power, and crony capitalism fit together. So far in the 2016 election, the richest 400 Americans have accounted for over a third of all campaign contributions.
Americans know a takeover has occurred and they blame the establishment for it.
There’s no official definition of the “establishment” but it presumably includes all of the people and institutions that have wielded significant power over the American political economy, and are therefore deemed complicit.
At its core are the major corporations, their top executives, and Washington lobbyists and trade associations; the biggest Wall Street banks, their top officers, traders, hedge-fund and private-equity managers, and their lackeys in Washington; the billionaires who invest directly in politics; and the political leaders of both parties, their political operatives, and fundraisers.
Salon: “It’s the corruption, stupid”: Hillary’s too compromised to see what Donald Trump understands The key 2016 issue is outrage over a rigged system by special interests. There's a reason Hillary doesn't get it
In 1992, James Carville, Bill Clinton’s senior campaign strategist, scribbled a terse memo containing three instructions. Two are long forgotten. The third may live forever. “It’s the economy, stupid” became a meme because it nailed the issue that drove that election. One overarching issue drives this election, but neither Hillary Clinton’s campaign nor the Democratic Party got the memo. Any swing voter could tell them what it says: It’s the corruption, stupid.
Donald Trump got the memo. What you notice first about Trump is his xenophobia, but he also speaks more about corruption than immigration. For example: when he falsely claims to self-fund his campaign, blames Bush’s donors when he gets booed, shames his opponents for crooking the knee to the Kochs, or belittles the Clintons for attending his wedding. He brags of buying influence as if buying it were less corrupt than selling it. He gets away with it because few in the press see the issue’s centrality to the race — or would know what questions to ask if they did.
Deep in their unconscious, even Trump’s most ardent fans must know that such a colossal liar couldn’t possibly be a reformer. Asked to explain their enthusiasm, they invariably cite his independence. Doubtless many are also drawn to his racism — but corruption is what Trump and his backers talk most about. In any event, the only real reformer in the race is Bernie Sanders. Even he must broaden his message beyond cracking down on Wall Street and repealing Citizens United. All Democratic candidates call for repealing Citizens United. Democratic audiences cheer when they do. Other audiences doze off, and for good reasons.
One reason is that people don’t know what they mean. If you talk about Citizens United or Glass Steagall, you must tell us what they are. The key to campaign finance is discussing how much money flows into the system, where it comes from and how it’s spent. For financial regulation, talk about how without it, banks can bet their depositors’ money — and if they lose big enough, even with Dodd Frank, we taxpayers end up bailing them out.
Another reason is that Democrats who bewail Citizens United so often depict corruption as a right-wing plot of which they themselves are mere victims. Not even the base buys that. Citizens United arrived in 2010. Pay-to-play politics took off in the mid-’70s, right about the time the middle class stopped getting raises. The sad truth is elite Democrats like the current system a lot. Here’s a well-guarded secret: They even see a lot to like in Citizens United.
Poorly written and atrociously reasoned, Citizens United rests on three simple, absurd precepts: Money is speech; corporations are people; and corruption is OK so long as it is sanctioned. OK, the third one isn’t so simple, but it sure is absurd. It pertains to what Justice Kennedy, the opinion’s author, calls “soft” corruption, by which he means the entire system: big donors, lobbyists, lush retreats, revolving doors, exorbitant speaking fees. The whole shebang.
Kennedy says that unlike “hard” corruption (bribery, mainly), “soft” corruption harms and offends no one, so Congress can’t regulate it. The issue hadn’t come up at trial, so there was nothing about it in pleadings. There’s tons of data about how evil it is and how much we hate it, but Kennedy ignored it. He offered no proof to support his “finding.” He just said it was so and now it’s the law.
I’d rate Citizens United the second most corrupt decision in Supreme Court history after Bush v. Gore. Blind partisanship drove Bush v. Gore. Right-wing ideology informs both decisions. But Citizens United’s key findings, that our politics isn’t really corrupt and we don’t care anyway, is neither partisan nor extreme. It is in fact the bipartisan consensus of Washington’s soul-sick, brain-dead establishment.
If you doubt it, consider Barack Obama. In 2008, America was almost as angry at its government as it is today. Then as now, the media and political consultants to both parties were blind to the issue. But Obama and strategist David Axelrod sort of got it. Axelrod wasn’t much for specificity. He preached the “politics of biography” (sell the person, not the policy). So Obama spoke of transforming “Washington’s culture.” It was powerful stuff, but not quite powerful enough.
Voters knew the problem wasn’t “partisan gridlock” but a hammerlock of special interests. They could abide politicians’ incivility but not their corruption. Obama added some policy meat to the metaphorical bone of his message. He called whistle-blowers heroes and vowed to strengthen freedom of information, to let C-SPAN cameras film healthcare negotiations, end no-bid contracts, close revolving doors and never hire lobbyists to handle matters of special concern to their ex-clients. By late fall, nearly every speech he gave ended in a rousing call for reform.
Breaking those vows was the original sin of the Obama administration. No C-SPAN cameras ever filmed a meeting. He didn’t treat whistle-blowers as heroes; he broke records prosecuting them. He didn’t end no-bid contracts; he increased them. He didn’t ban lobbyists; he recruited them. (Healthcare industry consultants drove that team; he even hired a defense lobbyist to oversee Pentagon procurement policy.) Revolving doors kept swinging; every ex-Obama staffer you ever heard of now sits on some comfy corporate perch. Republicans didn’t kill the reforms. Obama had the power to implement each one by executive order, but chose not to.
In 2008, Obama raised more money from big business than any candidate in eitherparty’s history and in 2009 he hired the most conservative economic team of any Democratic president since Grover Cleveland. He then sided with insurers against a public option, with banks against rescuing homeowners and with business against raising the minimum wage. If you’re highly educated and care more about cultural than economic issues, you may not have noticed. If you’re financially pressed, you may be torn between Sanders and Trump, or have given up on politics altogether.
Clinton calls it an “artful smear” to suggest that she, Obama or any Democrat is influenced by the money they say corrupts every Republican. Her anger is partly a pose. But any card-carrying member of the establishment will take any suggestion that the system is compromised as a personal insult. This is true of elite reporters as well as politicians.
The Times’ David Brooks recently praised Obama’s “superior integrity,” calling his years in office “remarkably scandal free.” It’s all true, but recall Anthony Kennedy’s clueless distinction between hard and soft corruption. He said soft corruption was better but it’s worse really. Soft corruption is systemic corruption; a cancer on the body politic. We kill it or it kills us, and sooner than you may think.
Asked about her Goldman Sachs speaking fees, Hillary offered two rationales. One was the perennial favorite “everyone does it.” The other was equally flippant. (“That’s what they offered.”) Since leaving the White House she and Bill have hauled in $153 million in speaking fees. Her deepest flaw is she doesn’t know it’s wrong. As I’ve written twice here and said often elsewhere, I’ve great respect for her. Her flaw is denial, not dishonesty — but her denial runs deep.
Back when Bill was governor of Arkansas, she began trading cattle futures. She put up hardly any money but a Tyson Foods lawyer arranged credit and did the trading. She made $100,000 in 10 months. She joined the well-wired Rose Law Firm, appeared before legislative committees, went on Wal-Mart’s board and got a loan for the ill-fated Whitewater deal from a bank she represented before regulators Bill had appointed.
For all this she was hounded by prosecutors, many of them vicious partisans. Kenneth Starr ran a sting operation on the president of the United States hoping he’d lie if caught in an affair, an abuse of process for which Starr himself should have been investigated. But the issue isn’t whether the Clintons broke the law. It’s whether any governor’s spouse should rep corporate clients before state agencies, hop on corporate boards or take favors from corporate “friends.” The answer’s simple. No. The reason’s also simple. It’s wrong.
It’s all ancient history, unless of course it isn’t. An ongoing FBI probe is now being overseen by James Comey, the former George W. Bush deputy attorney general whom Obama, inexplicably, appointed director of the bureau. Here’s hoping he wraps it up soon, lest Clinton make history not only as the first woman presidential nominee but as the first person ever nominated while under criminal investigation. The media’s near silence on the matter reflects a concern for due process but also a failure even now to grasp how heavily the integrity issue weighs on her candidacy and the election. Democratic elites await the outcome with preternatural calm.
Clinton bristles at any implication she’d ever stoop to a policy quid pro quo. I don’t think she would. But that’s not how soft corruption works. Politicians spend more time talking to their donors than to their children. As in all intimate relations, each learns to see the world through the other’s eyes. It affects everyone: pollsters, policy advisers, reporters, pundits. You can hear it in the current healthcare debate.
On the topic of single payer, Clinton sounds like Dan Aykroyd in “Ghostbusters” (Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!). Bill calls it a “fairy tale.” Hillary rails, “I don’t want us thrown back into a terrible, terrible national debate … about some ‘better idea’ that will never, ever come to pass!” Alleged experts regurgitate Clinton campaign talking points: It’s unattainable, unaffordable and scares voters half to death.
Rubbish. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, respondents backed “Medicare for all” by 58 percent to 34 percent. One reason people like it is that it will save them a bundle. All other developed nations use a form of it and spend half what we do per capita. As for the politics, no Republican Congress will pass any Democratic healthcare bill and no Democratic Congress can resist an aroused public demanding change. The very idea of the debate being too disruptive insults our democracy.
Clinton likes to say “before it was Obamacare it was Hillarycare,” but really it was Romneycare, which speaks to its defects, many of which are systemic. Curing them requires other systemic reforms, or what Bernie calls a revolution. Clinton says she’ll “partner” with the insurance and drug industries. That’s a fairy tale. The numbers will never work, which is why she can’t say how she’d get us to universal coverage. What she’s really saying is we can’t get there from here. It’s like American Exceptionalism but in reverse; America, the really big country that can’t.
Salon: Democrats are afraid to speak the truth about Hillary: She’s the embodiment of white privilege, while Sanders has earned his success The strongest example of white privilege is placing more emphasis on war than the plight of struggling Americans
JOY-ANN REID: Yeah, it’s interesting, because Hillary Clinton has had this remarkable arc over the course of her life, from being a sort of conservative, “Goldwater Girl”…And so she sort of occupied this strange space that has mirrored the Democratic Party, that’s gone left, she’s gone right, she’s been hawkish, she’s been sort of the neocon in the party.
In my writing and in my advocacy of Bernie Sanders, I’ve tried to highlight this critical aspect of the 2016 Election, albeit in a more forceful manner.
Hillary Clinton has gone right, and like Reid states, “she’s been hawkish, she’s been sort of the neocon in the party.” In addition to Joy-Ann Reid, leading historians in The New York Times have discussed Hillary Clinton’s neoconservative advisers, in addition to a future “neocon” foreign policy.
Vox states “Hillary Clinton will pull the Democrats — and the country — in a hawkish direction,” yet the same people who believe Dick Cheney is Satan’s spawn could care less. The billions spent on perpetual wars could fund universal healthcare, but again, liberals have evolved on the definition of “pragmatism.”
This privilege is the embodiment of the Clinton name, but also the embodiment of the fact both Clintons are white. Hillary Clinton once called Barack Obama “elitist” for stating Americans cling to their guns, and ran a racist 3 a. m. commercial questioning his ability to make the right foreign policy decisions, yet few liberal pundits remember ancient history. In response, Obama labeled Clinton “Annie Oakley,” but the politics showed a white Democrat painting her black rival as weak; both in domestic and foreign policy.
Militarism, and its effects within American society, removes the emphasis away from those in poverty or struggling economically and towards threats like ISIS. More time is spent on nightly news programs addressing terrorism than the 27% of African Americans living in poverty or the 1 million African Americans in prison.
While a Bernie Sanders presidency would limit overarching foreign policy objectives and focus upon universal healthcare and free college tuition, his rival is never questioned about the price tag associated with destroying ISIS. Rather, the pragmatism of free college tuition is now an issue, even on the left, while Clinton’s foreign policy is hailed as smart power, not dangerous and costly.
Since the Democratic Party should stand for the antithesis of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, it’s bizarre that progressive pundits would ignore a glaring philosophical weakness in Hillary Clinton’s record on war and foreign policy. Not many people can vote for Iraq, advocate a disastrous Libyan intervention, and write a glowing book review on Henry Kissinger’s memoirs, yet still be called a liberal icon.
This is the epitome of white privilege.
Hillary’s privilege allows this bizarre state of affairs to exist.
Of course, the Bush Administration started the ball rolling on perpetual wars, but Democrats like Hillary Clinton helped them in this regard. Ultimately, this dynamic hurts poor people. Martin Luther King’s Beyond Vietnam speech in 1967 highlights the relationship between war and poverty:
A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war.
The most striking example of white privilege in America, and something that most progressive pundits ignore, is placing greater emphasis on war than the plight of struggling Americans.
Only a white politician in America can overtly challenge the core principles of liberal politics, and get away with it, while simultaneously expecting the support of minority voters.
In a sense, Hillary Clinton is the progressive whisperer, capable of a Jedi mind trick of epic proportions, while The Daily Beast and Banters of the world rush eagerly towards a right-wing cliff of Henry Kissinger’s politics and an Iraq vote “mistake.”
Remember the militarized police in Ferguson? The Washington Post writes “The Pentagon gave nearly half a billion dollars of military gear to local law enforcement last year.”
Think foreign policy doesn’t affect the black and Latino communities? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war.” Dr. King’s words are just as relevant today as they were in 1967.
After two major wars and failed policies that devastated the Middle East, do you think a black or Latina woman could run for president on a record of voting for Iraq, while simultaneously defending against an email scandal?
If white privilege has any definition, it’s the ability to be linked to an FBI investigation, while simultaneously touting one’s experience.
If Michelle Obama had been involved in endless scandals, one can only imagine the effects on her political future, especially if she were to run for public office. Being a Clinton, and being a white woman, has benefited Hillary tremendously.
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