Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ten of Hillary Clinton's Enemies

Back in the first Democratic debate, the candidates were asked which enemy they were most proud of making; Hillary Clinton, now our presumptive nominee, seemed to have trouble answering this question, listing off "the NRA, health insurance companies, drug and companies, and - finally - 'the Iranians.'" While the last answer is creepy enough, given her vilification of an entire country, the list of enemies that Hillary Clinton doesn't want us to know about is even worse. In honor of her status as presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, I decided to rehash ten causes, groups of people, or general concepts that Hillary Clinton is now, or has in the past, been an enemy to.

Hillary Clinton (taken from
  1. Gay rights. While Clinton has cozied up to the LGBT+ community in recent years, she long stood as a staunch opponent of giving gay marriage the same recognition as its straight counterpart. She supported the Defense of Marriage Act when it was passed and signed by her husband; in 2004, she said it was a "fundamental bedrock principle" that marriage "exists between a man and a woman, going back into the mists of history" and emphasized that its "primary, principle role" was for raising children. Clinton was not ambivalent about gay marriage--she was staunchly opposed to it. When she was asked by Chris Matthews in 2002 if "New York State should recognize gay marriage," she answered with a flat "no." It's certainly true that many people's views on gay marriage have shifted over the past couple decades--but Hillary Clinton used to oppose gay marriage in the same uncertain, moralistic terms that Christian conservatives continue to use today. In fact, she only came out in support of gay marriage in 2013--well after even President Obama
  2. Poor people. Hillary's husband, Bill, signed into law "welfare reform" while he was president, fulfilling his pledge to "end welfare as we know it." This was a law that cut off aid to many legal immigrants, slashed food stamps, and imposed a lifetime limit of five years of welfare benefits, among other things. While, in the short term, poverty decreased--given that the economy was continuing to boom, for the time being--extreme poverty doubled over the next fifteen years. While at the time of the bill's enactment, 68% of families with children in poverty were receiving cash assistance, by 2010, only 27% were. While it was Bill who signed the law, Hillary helped sell it, which she has since boasted about. From this alone, it's clear that Hillary Clinton had a hand in doing major damage to impoverished people in America.
  3. Black people. While, as we've heard numerous times, Hillary Clinton has been the overwhelming favorite of African-American voters in the Democratic primary, it's an objective fact that the policies she's pushed have often been bad for many of them. For instance, the aforementioned welfare reform law naturally hurt a significant number of African-Americans, given that they are disproportionately likely to live in poverty, in a country that still provides enormous advantages to white people over anyone with a darker shade of skin. To make matters worse, the law handed over significant power to the states to restrict who gets welfare benefits resulting in "all of the states with more African-Americans on the welfare rolls [choosing]  tougher rules...large numbers of African-Americans get concentrated in the states with the toughest rules, and large numbers of white recipients get concentrated in the states with the more lenient rules," according to sociologist Joe Soss. Then, of course, there's her pushing of mass incarceration policies--which also disproportionately impact black people--using terms like "super-predator." All things considered, it is very hard to believe that the average African-American is better off because of the policies the Clintons have pushed.
  4. The Right to Privacy. Clinton voted for the Constitution-shredding USA PATRIOT Act, which she has explicitly stated that she doesn't regret. She has defended the surveillance state that emerged as a result, and which has spread its tentacles so far that even the bill's author, Jim Sensenbrenner, has denounced it and attempted to beat it back. In fact, she has made clear she resents the man who allowed Americans to even know about these surveillance programs, Edward Snowden. These programs include phone metadata collection, interception of emails and other online communication, and even a program that collects data on everywhere that you go online. Big Brother is watching you, but Hillary Clinton is there to tell you not to worry about it.
  5.  Corporate regulations. Clinton has a long and consistent history of promoting policies and laws that have made it easier for corporations to do whatever they want. She was a proponent of NAFTA under her husband's administration--a trade deal between the US, Canada, and Mexico that, among other things, allows companies to sue governments for implementing laws that in some way limit their profits (such as environmental laws--TransCanada has used it to sue the US government for refusing to give permission for the Keystone XL Pipeline). Bill Clinton signed into law a repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (which prohibited commercial banks--the ones where you deposit your money into savings and checking accounts--from investment, after the catastrophic results of speculation in 1929), and Hillary has shot down any suggestion of reinstating the law. She further supported the bank bailouts that gave no-strings-attached money to irresponsible banks that had gotten themselves into financial trouble. Lastly, she vocally supported the TPP--which has been described as NAFTA on steroids--until she started running for president, after which she lied about having supported it. But don't worry, her cronies on the Democratic platform committee made sure nothing in the platform opposes the TPP anyway.
  6. Free Speech. Similar to her lack of regard for the Fourth Amendment, Hillary Clinton has also shown little interest in the first. While she was in the senate, she introduced a law to outlaw flag-burning, punishing it with up to a year in prison. Flag-burning laws have previously been struck down as unconstitutional, but Clinton hoped to get around that by claiming this one was based on "safety." She also co-sponsored the Media Marketing Accountability Act, introduced by Joe Lieberman. Lieberman's bill would have, in his own words, criminalized marketing anything that contains "sex and violence" to minors. This, of course, would include Lieberman's hated enemy, the band Marilyn Manson, whom he well knew had many fans under the age of 18. Lieberman expressed specific concern about "the marketing of obscenity-laced records to kids." The PATRIOT Act, which Clinton staunchly supports (as mentioned above), also prohibits giving counsel to "terrorist groups" as a form of material assistance--this includes advising them on how to nonviolently resolve problems, as the Obama administration successfully defended the government's right to prevent the Humanitarian Law Project from doing just that.
  7. International law. Clinton not only voted for the Iraq War, but spoke out strongly in favor of it, saying there was no doubt Saddam Hussein would "continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare" if left unchecked. The ensuing invasion and occupation of Iraq has been described as the worst war crime of the 21st century by Noam Chomsky, going in complete contradiction of the UN Charter's prohibition of wars of aggression. Clinton also pushed the Obama administration to intervene in Libya, going far beyond the authorization given by the UN Security Council, which had merely called for the enforcement of a no-fly zone. She has also called for a no-fly zone to be implemented in Syria, despite the lack of authority for the US to do so under international law.
  8. The Palestinians. As well as "the Iranians," Clinton might as well have mentioned "the Palestinians" as another one of her enemies. She has loyally supported the Israeli government, defending their worst and most reprehensible actions, and speaking out in favor of right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At one point, she said she sympathized with him when he stated, in effect, that he would not allow the Palestinians to have the state that it is internationally recognized that they are entitled to. Because, again, of her cronies on the platform committee, the Democratic Party platform will not even condemn Israel's illegal West Bank settlements--which even President George W. Bush spoke out against while in office
  9. Environmentalism. While Clinton's environmental record has its bright spots, it also has some pretty big, pretty dark ones. As noted above, she supported both NAFTA and the TPP, which include provisions that effectively allow companies to sue the governments of the countries that are parties to the agreement, if said government implement some sort of environmental legislation or restriction that interferes with the company's ability to make the biggest profit possible. On top of that, Hillary Clinton voted, while in the senate, to open up new areas in the Gulf Coast to offshore drilling (we obviously now know the risks of offshore drilling in the Gulf). On top of that, as Secretary of State she pushed developing countries to allow US companies to engage in hydrofracking in their territory, despite the myriad threats to the environment that fracking entails.
  10. Democracy. From the more mild examples--her collusion with the DNC to ensure her advantage in the Democratic primary--to the more extreme--her description of the Mubaraks, the family of Egypt's then-dictator, as close friends, and her friendliness with the Saudi regime, Hillary Clinton has shown little desire for the spread of democracy, and little concern for the forces that threaten it. Like many politicians, it seems that Clinton's attitude is that despotism is fine as long as it serves her purposes, and the purposes of the US government. If left to her own devices as president, there is little reason to hope she would do much to increase the level of democracy in the US or around the world.
I do not write this to argue against voting for Clinton. As a swing-state resident, if the race looks tight, I will do so. Nor do I blame Bernie Sanders for endorsing her--it was probably the right thing to do, given the circumstances. But, while there is little hope Hillary Clinton could ever really be a good president, there is perhaps some chance that, should the forces that have mobilized behind Bernie Sanders remain active and pressure her to do so, she might push for, and take, some small steps in the right direction on some issues. But in order to understand the task ahead of us, we have to understand what we are up against--and we are up against someone who has been, on many occasions, our enemy.

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