Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why This Feminist Supports Bernie Sanders

As a feminist (I'm already old enough at 53 to be considered a third-wave, old-timey one), I want to throw my support behind Hillary Clinton. I have plenty of friends I respect and admire who have done so. It's not so much that they're "voting with their vaginas"--what an expression! Are they supposedly squatting over their ballots and marking them with a well-aimed "plop?"--but that they're stoked by the possibilities.

Finally, a woman who is practical and wants to get things done having a real shot at the Presidency. Finally, a woman with experience as both a New York Senator and a Secretary of State who may break the political glass ceiling. She's tough when she has to be but not so stubborn in her positions that she can't change her mind if convinced. She holds her own in a debate and has all the qualities of a true leader, one who doesn't play to our baser emotions like fear or anger. She inspires.

I get why my friends, both male and female, find her appealing.

But, I can't find her that appealing, and I would say the same thing regardless of her sex. Simply put, she holds some positions with which I strongly disagree. I'll list them, then back up and explain them all. First among these is that she's a hawk, amply proven by her tenure as Secretary of State and her recent speech to AIPAC. Second is that she's way too comfortable taking money from banks and corporate interests and/or supremely opaque SuperPACs (though they can't donate to her directly, SuperPACs, of course, amount to what I'll call a "financial endorsement"), and though she insists she is not influenced by such money, her stances (or lack of a stance) on certain issues such as free trade and with a track record of holding hands with companies like Wal-mart or Monsanto, I doubt it. She's very much a political creature of the sort the American public is presently rebelling against. Perhaps I just question her sincerity. Actually, I do think she's sincere about some goals--I just think that if that sincerity is stacked up against her greater loyalty to banks and big business, she's going to choose the people funding her every time, unless it "polls well" for her to not do that.

All right, so let me back up now and explain.

First, she's so hawkish she might as well be a neocon. As Secretary of State, she pushed for American involvement in Libya; then we basically abandoned the country as soon as Gaddafi was taken out, leaving that country's people more vulnerable to radicalization and terrorist takeover. (Did we learn nothing from Iraq?) Apparently not, because when Clinton cast her vote in the Senate to support the Iraq War, she referred to it as "a business opportunity." And so it was, to the military-industrial complex and particularly to companies such as Halliburton and other contractors. Not so much for the soldiers we sent over there. Has she changed? She now says voting for that war was a mistake, but just the other day at AIPAC, she made it abundantly clear that she still sees wars as business opportunities. She goes on and on in her speech about the development of even more powerful weapons and then gives props to a "culture of innovation" between places like Silicon Valley and Israeli tech companies and entrepreneurs. Now, the context here is cybersecurity, energy security, and water security, and if you've been paying even a smidgen of attention to what's been happening to the people of Gaza, this should worry you.

And then there's Honduras. She also doesn't seem to mind torture all that much or the surveillance of American citizens (never mind human rights and civil rights) if such things will bring the big, bad evil people to heel. There's a good analysis of her track record in Salon today, here.

As for big money, some will say, "Look, that's just how politics are nowadays. You need the SuperPACs to compete with the other candidates, or you put yourself at a severe disadvantage." Well, that's like athletes who take steroids saying they need to take them because everybody else is, so it's the only way to stay competitive. No, Clinton's own past makes it clear whose side she's on at the end of the day. She's served on the Board of Directors at Walmart (probably the corporation most notorious for its practice of paying workers so little they actually qualify for government aid). She favors GMOs and has ties to big agribusiness, ie, Monsanto. When Bill Clinton pushed NAFTA on through, Hillary was for it. It has resulted in the loss of American production jobs to other countries that pay exploitation wages and created an embarrassing trade deficit. Until recently, Clinton was for the TPP as well, until its unpopularity among voters caused her to flip. Maybe. I suppose her sincerity on that depends on how much you trust her, but, for me, all the objective evidence points to Clinton being very much one more candidate for the corporations, not for the people. Frankly, Wall Street's own admission over a year ago that they'd be fine with a Clinton Presidency rather clinches the argument. (Here is one article that discusses this, if you're interested.)

And as Elizabeth Warren has described, Clinton will stab people in the back, including women, in the name of political expediency and assisting, well, her big donors.  Don't take my word for it. Watch:



So, look. In a country where the gap between the rich and the poor has gotten so wide--as in Gilded Age wide, the excesses of which caused the Great Depression--and a once-thriving middle class shrinks even more and more, we don't need any more representatives of corporations sitting in government. The people need representation for a change. The 2008 recession is still going on for all but the wealthy, and this is why "indicators" such as more money being loaned or the stock market booming mean nothing to most of us. Unemployment may be lower, but how many of these "new" jobs are crappy part-time minimum wage jobs without benefits? Washington has completely lost touch with what daily lives are like for the majority of people living in this country.

We need a candidate for the people, not a candidate for the status quo, banks, multinational corporations, and interminable wars.

And this is why this feminist supports Bernie Sanders for President.

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