Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Progressive Perspectives on Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton

For the first time in U.S. history, a woman is set to represent a major political party in the general election.

For the first time. In U.S. history. Ever. Take a minute to let that sink in. Love or hate or feel totally ambivalent about Hillary Clinton, this is a historic moment. . . . We are allowed to be excited about this milestone, and at the same time, look ahead with a critical eye.

One hundred years ago, women in this country couldn't vote. Our voices were valued so little that our political opinions quite literally did not count. This year, not only can we vote and tweet and campaign and moderate debates and report on presidential candidates, we can vote for another woman to be president of the United States.

As Clinton said Tuesday night: "We've reached a milestone."

It's about damn time.

– Emma Gray
Excerpted from "We're Allowed To Be Excited
That A Woman Could Be President
HuffPost Women
June 8, 2016

For many progressive critics – particularly women – the symbolic victory was dulled by the reality of a female candidate whose brand of feminism encompasses problematic policies and undeniable privilege.

Author, activist, and renowned progressive Naomi Klein's view, which she shared on social media, captured the sentiments of many on the left. Responding to Clinton's tweet, which said, "Tonight, we can say with pride that, in America, there is no barrier too great and no ceiling too high to break," Klein wrote: "Bull. Not under the plutocracy u represent. As a feminist, I should feel a thrill right now. I grieve that I don't."

– Lauren McCauley
Excerpted from "Despite Historic Achievement,
Feminists Grapple with Clinton's Deeply Troubling Record
Common Dreams
June 8, 2016

At long last, it’s happened: Hillary Clinton has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, the first woman in U.S. history to do it.

We don’t think it’s the feminist milestone many claim it to be.

. . . Clinton is U.S. political establishment, business as usual. She defends a burgeoning surveillance state and supports military interventions abroad with gusto. She voted for the Iraq War, her State Department devised the legal reasoning that justified the expansion of American drone attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians, and she has encouraged U.S. support of undemocratic and brutal regimes in Haiti, Honduras, Egypt, and Israel. Far from being anti-feminist, as some might claim, our opposition to Clinton’s candidacy is rooted in a deeply feminist critique of her domestic and international policies, many of which have hurt women at home and abroad. One can (and we do) decry the unjust sexism Clinton endures in American politics without for a second turning her into a progressive visionary that she, quite simply, is not.

– Mahroh Jahangiri and Dana Bolger
Excerpted from "Clinton's Nomination: A Feminist Milestone?"
June 8, 2016

Undeniably, this is a historic moment. It is a long overdue corrective to the male-only club of the American Presidency. No matter whatever else it may bring, Clinton’s success would be momentous. Yet it should not be forgotten that a Clinton presidency, in addition to being historic in one respect, would also be a continuation – as opposed to a ground-breaking shift – of a march down the path of neoliberal folly bought and paid for by Wall Street and the military-industrial complex.

. . . It has been a tough, acrimonious campaign – full of "Bernie bros" and Clinton smears – that has turned even those who believe roughly the same things in principle into sworn political enemies. Already there appeared the possibility for moving forward together with dignity, as the DNC was forced to allow [Clinton's Democratic rival] Bernie Sanders to appoint genuinely progressive thinkers to the convention platform committee.

The risk, though, is that burned bridges will stay ashen and that by winning one election, the Democratic Party has lost an entire generation. Could this be the last stand of a Party who gave the country a "New Deal" then refused to fight for it when it was under attack from above?

Regardless of the actual outcome, this election continues to reveal the fundamental political divides between the major parties and the people they claim to represent. It is between those who want to escape the bread and circus of partisan fights between the parties who share a primary allegiance to the elites that feed them. It is between those voters – primarily younger ones – who believe that U.S. democracy can still be saved and its economic system radically improved against others – predominantly older – who believe the best we can hope for is to ensure that we do not to devolve into the mud of a racist-fueled fascism.

The irony is that even in defeat, the progressive movement Bernie Sanders helped to build and lead is stronger than ever. His campaign showed people that what was once thought impossible is not only possible but fully within their grasp. That the old wars against terror and drugs can be abandoned for new struggles for equality, justice and political empowerment. The Democratic Establishment may have won the battle but now the Party must decide if it wants to join progressives in winning the larger war.

– Peter Bloom
Excerpted from "If Sanders Has Lost,
What Have the Democrats Won?
Common Dreams
June 7, 2016

I watched Hillary’s speech because I wondered how I would feel. And I can honestly say I felt less equal than I ever have in my life. I heard the soaring words about history and watched the video packed with heroic women, yet I was not moved. It felt so staged and so well-timed for prime time viewing that it felt phony to me. I did not see myself at all.

It isn’t as though I fall into the "I hate Hillary" camp, because I do not. I don’t agree with her policies, and I far prefer Bernie’s. What I was feeling was that old familiar sense of exclusion – Hillary is a very wealthy woman who cares little about people like me. Her commitment to build an inclusive society fell flat with me because I know how far on the outside people like me are now and always will be unless there are fundamental changes like those envisioned by Bernie. And I am not foolish. I know my value or lack thereof within our society is mostly determined by my economic status even within very progressive circles.

Reality is that most of us are outsiders to any of the campaigns at the presidential level. Most of us do not have the money or power to be heard, and that’s what has driven millions to Bernie’s campaign and to the huge rallies. Bernie’s political revolution embraces all of us, and it is not over unless we throw in the towel. No matter what happens leading up to or during the DNC convention in Philadelphia, the revolution has been ignited, it is growing and the will of the people will not be denied.

– Donna Smith
Excerpted from "Bernie or Bust? No, It’s Justice or Bust"
Common Dreams
June 9, 2016

"The struggle continues," Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders declared in a speech, which capped off his statewide campaign in California. He described the struggle broadly as one for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice.

Sanders also noted he has overwhelmingly won young people in the majority of the United States. Young people recognize they must shape the future, and they share the Sanders campaign’s vision for a government that works for lower class citizens instead of catering to the interests of corporations and the rich.

The primary contests did not go as well as Sanders supporters hoped. The campaign won decisively in North Dakota. It eked out a victory in Montana, but the campaign lost in South Dakota and New Mexico. It was blown out in New Jersey. Sanders did not win California, and there is ample evidence of massive irregularities at polling places, which should have Californians concerned.

It is very easy for those inspired by the Sanders campaign to feel demoralized and overwhelmed by cynicism. The Associated Press and NBC News inappropriately announced Hillary Clinton "clinched" the nomination on the eve of a major day of primaries. Alan Fram of the AP Washington Bureau sent an email indicating the media organization was "rounding up superdelegates," which is language a campaign strategist might use but not a journalist. An image Clinton shared on Twitter to mark AP’s report that she "clinched" the nomination was created on Saturday and labeled “Secret Winner.”

. . . [I]n the face of an establishment media and Democratic political establishment furious with Sanders for refusing to quit, Sanders has won more than twenty states. He is headed to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with about 45 percent of the pledged delegates, which is incredibly impressive for a politician who describes himself as a democratic socialist. His campaign will have a lot of power to frustrate and stymie corporate politics at the Democratic elites’ four-day corporate-sponsored celebration.

– Kevin Gosztola
Excerpted from "Sanders Encourages Struggle
Against Establishment Politics to Continue
Shadowproof via Common Dreams
June 7, 2016

Clinton, of course, would prefer that Sanders end his campaign and embrace her as the reform leader. But Sanders has been clear from the start: he’s building a movement to challenge a failed establishment and transform the party and the country. He’ll take that fight to Philadelphia and into the general election and beyond. What he signaled in his speech early this morning was that he sees beating Trump as essential to building the movement, and will move “together” to make that happen.

The scurrilous and misleading media coverage is not a surprise. The mainstream media began this campaign with a virtual coronation of Clinton and Bush (H and Jeb!) before a vote was cast. And they ended it by announcing Clinton the winner in outrageous banner headlines before the voting booths even opened on the final major primary day. Those headlines were based on a secret AP canvas of unelected superdelegates, speaking anonymously about their intentions.

The mainstream media ignored Sanders at the beginning of the campaign as he drew record crowds, and dismissed his chances in the middle of the campaign, even as he gained support despite the clamor that the race was over. An insurgent candidate challenging the establishment isn’t likely to get a fair shake from the media or the party, which only reinforces the need to build independent organization and communication networks.

– Robert L. Borosage
Excerpted from "Clinton Makes History;
For Sanders 'The Struggle Continues'
Common Dreams
June 8, 2016

The incident that gave Hillary the nomination was an act of newsgathering by the Associated Press, which had somehow discovered that the former secretary of state now controlled enough superdelegates to put her over the required total. Little was disclosed about who these superdelegates were or what their reasoning was; what really mattered was the AP’s imprimatur. Clinton won by an act of professional practice.

But maybe that was as it should be. After all, this entire campaign has been a long lesson in democratic dysfunction.

Months of debates and primary contests have given us two of the most unpopular presidential candidates of all time. Both of them seem willing to say anything or change any position as necessity dictates. But of course there is also a reality beneath the rhetoric. Hillary Clinton may become the first female president, but she also stands for the responsible status quo and all of its complacent assumptions. Donald Trump, meanwhile, is a bullying bigot who can’t control his own mouth – a man whose main appeal is as a human middle finger raised to the complacent, responsible, status quo world.

– Thomas Frank
Excerpted from "Anthem for Bummed Youth"
Common Dreams
June 9, 2016

[On June 6], the Associated Press – on a day when nobody voted – surprised everyone by abruptly declaring the Democratic Party primary over and Hillary Clinton the victor. The decree, issued the night before the California primary in which polls show Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a very close race, was based on the media organization’s survey of “superdelegates”: the Democratic Party’s 720 insiders, corporate donors, and officials whose votes for the presidential nominee count the same as the actually elected delegates. AP claims that superdelegates who had not previously announced their intentions privately told AP reporters that they intend to vote for Clinton, bringing her over the threshold. AP is concealing the identity of the decisive superdelegates who said this.

Although the Sanders campaign rejected the validity of AP's declaration – on the ground that the superdelegates do not vote until the convention and he intends to try to persuade them to vote for him – most major media outlets followed the projection and declared Clinton the winner.

This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization – incredibly – conceals. The decisive edifice of superdelegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes. But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter.

None of this is to deny that Hillary Clinton – as was always the case from the start – is highly likely to be the legitimately chosen winner of this process. It’s true that the party’s governing rules are deliberately undemocratic; unfair and even corrupt decisions were repeatedly made by party officials to benefit Clinton; and the ostensibly neutral Democratic National Committee (led by the incomparably heinous Debbie Wasserman Schultz) constantly put not just its thumb but its entire body on the scale to ensure she won. But it’s also true that under the long-standing rules of the party, more people who voted preferred Clinton as their nominee over Sanders. Independent of superdelegates, she just got more votes. There’s no denying that.

And just as was true in 2008 with Obama’s nomination, it should be noted that standing alone – i.e., without regard to the merits of the candidate – Clinton’s nomination is an important and positive milestone. Americans, being Americans, will almost certainly overstate its world significance and wallow in excessive self-congratulations: Many countries on the planet have elected women as their leaders, including many whose close family member had not previously served as president. Nonetheless, the U.S. presidency still occupies an extremely influential political and cultural position in the world. Particularly for a country with such an oppressive history on race and gender, the election of the first African-American president and nomination of the first female presidential candidate of a major party is significant in shaping how people all over the world, especially children, view their own and other people’s potential and possibilities. But that’s all the more reason to lament this dreary conclusion.

That the Democratic Party nominating process is declared to be over in such an uninspiring, secretive, and elite-driven manner is perfectly symbolic of what the party, and its likely nominee, actually is. The one positive aspect, though significant, is symbolic, while the actual substance – rallying behind a Wall Street-funded, status quo-perpetuating, multimillionaire militarist – is grim in the extreme. The Democratic Party got exactly the ending it deserved.

Related Off-site Links:
Please Recognize Your Privilege If You Can Afford 8 Years of Hillary Clinton and the Status Quo – Tony Brasunas (HuffPost Politics, April 4, 2016).
This is One Weak Nominee: Hillary Clinton's Problem Isn't Bernie Sanders. It's Hillary Clinton – David Niose (Salon, May 14, 2016).
Green Party's Jill Stein on the Feminist Case Against Hillary Clinton – Tessa Stuart (Rolling Stone, May 26, 2016).
We Can't Have More of the Same: The Very Real Dangers of Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy – Patrick L. Smith (Salon, June 4, 2016).
This is Our Neoliberal Nightmare: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Why the Market and the Wealthy Win Every Time – Anis Shivani (Salon, June 6, 2016).
#GirlIGuessI'mWithHer, a Hashtag for the Slightly Queasy Clinton Voter – Anna Merlan (The Slot, June 8, 2016).
How Bernie Sanders Made Hillary Clinton Into a Greener Candidate – Ben Adler (Mother Jones, June 8, 2016).
Media Colludes to Kill Bernie Sanders' Campaign Hours Before Last Super Tuesday – Amanda Gardner (Inquisitr, June 7, 2016).
How California is Being Stolen from Sanders Right Now – Greg Palast (, June 7, 2016).
"We Will Never Give Up": A Note of Thanks to Bernie Sanders – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, June 8, 2016).
America's Voting System is Broken. It's Time to Overhaul It – Trevor Timm (The Guardian, June 8, 2016).
Whose Party? Whose Platform? Progressives Seek to Influence DNC – Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams, June 9, 2016).

UPDATES: "I'm With Her": Barack Obama Endorses Hillary Clinton for President – Dan Roberts (The Guardian, June 9, 2016).
Why Sanders Must Continue His Campaign – Robert C. Hockett (The Hill, June 9, 2016).
Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie – Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone, June 9, 2016).
The Sanders' Revolution Has Only Just Begun – Julian Drury (Quiet Mike, June 9, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope, History and Bernie Sanders
Quote of the Day – April 20, 2016
Super Tuesday Thoughts on Bernie Sanders
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Something to Think About – February 22, 2016
Quote of the Day – February 17, 2016


Mai said...

At this point, Michael, I think we should focus our energies on getting the dispirited Sanders supporters to make sure Trump is annihilated in this election by encouraging them to vote for anybody else! Inaction is no way to solve this problem.

Don said...

It's called cooperation...PLEASE! Give this very experienced woman some credit, and a chance.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Mai and Don, Clinton also needs to take certain cooperative actions to ensure the defeat of Trump. As one commentator has noted elsewhere online, "It's time for Hillary to make some public concessions to the progressive left and fellow Democrats to stop treating this election like it's just some numbers game where progressives suddenly become fascists by sticking to their ideals. There are real, deeply felt values at stake and many of us lack trust in Hillary to honor those values. She needs to sit down with Bernie and hash out a plan to make compromises, not act like our votes are chips going into a poker ante."