Neoliberal War Goddess, Or Stalwart American Progressive? Why is this woman, this feminist, this progressive, demonised as some sort of fanatical neoliberal war goddess? Why do even New Zealanders who identify as “left-wing” claim to see no meaningful difference between Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump? How has the woman who campaigned for George McGovern – the most radical presidential candidate in recent American history – been so egregiously defamed?
“WHAT WE HAVE TO DO every so often in America is save capitalism from itself.” Hillary Clinton’s take on capitalism is pretty much the same as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s take on capitalism. If that doesn’t justify placing Clinton among America’s progressives, then the definition of “progressive” must have been changed when the world’s political scientists weren’t looking.
Only the most extreme denizens of the Far Right would dispute that Roosevelt’s “New Deal” rescued American capitalism from the looming political consequences of the Great Depression. Certainly, that remains the firm judgement of practically all American socialists. Indeed, the great tragedy of American socialism is that the progressive movement (almost always in the guise of the Democratic Party) has unfailingly stepped up to defuse those economic and social bombs which, left undefused, might so easily have exploded into revolution.
Clinton fits very comfortably into that Democratic tradition. Ideologically-speaking she rates as a fairly staunch American “liberal” (New Zealand political scientists would call her a social-democrat). United States experts locate her on the same section of the left political spectrum as President Barack Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren, and only marginally to the right of Senator Bernie Sanders who, in spite of calling himself a “democratic socialist”, has devoted his life to promoting a social and economic programme indistinguishable from Roosevelt’s New Deal.
So why is this woman, this feminist, this progressive, demonised as some sort of fanatical neoliberal war goddess? Why do even New Zealanders who identify as “left-wing” claim to see no meaningful difference between Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump? How has the woman who campaigned for George McGovern – the most radical presidential candidate in recent American history – been so egregiously defamed?
The answer is simple. Hillary Clinton has been demonised by the most reactionary elements of the American Right ever since she and her husband looked set to claim the White House in the presidential election of 1992. For nearly quarter-of-a-century she has been the target of an unrelenting campaign of false accusations, scurrilous rumours and outright lies. Recall the disgraceful campaign to undermine the prime-ministership of New Zealand’s own Helen Clark, multiply it by 10, and you will have some idea of the magnitude of what Clinton quite correctly described as “a vast right-wing conspiracy” dedicated to her and her husband’s destruction.
Those who were not yet born in 1992 find it difficult to fathom the depths to which the American Right was (and is) willing to sink in order to neutralise any and all threats posed to the legacies of Reagan and Bush by the Democratic Party and its more electable leaders.
That Hillary Clinton, as the Junior Senator from New York, voted for the invasion of Iraq has been parlayed by Sanders’ millennial supporters into proof positive of her war-mongering instincts. That dozens of her fellow Democratic senators did the same, is simply ignored. So, too, is the historical fact that ever since the days of the red-baiter, Joseph McCarthy, the Democratic Party has felt obliged to out-perform the Republicans on issues of national security.
The Millennial Left’s refusal to put the behaviour of politicians into some semblance of historical context is also evident in the their criticism of Clinton’s actions in regard to Libya. As US Secretary of State, Clinton was acutely aware of how much her country owed to its Nato partners for their unwavering support of the USA’s military commitment to Afghanistan. That was why she was willing to recommend to President Obama that he lend his support to British and French efforts in the UN Security Council to provide air support to Libyan rebels fighting Muamma Gaddafi. Clinton’s critics conveniently forget that it was the Security Council, not the US Secretary of State, who subsequently authorised the “humanitarian” bombing of Libya.
Unfortunately, this is not the sort of argument that sways Clinton’s younger critics in the slightest. Anyone who takes money from Goldman Sachs and their Wall Street partners-in-crime is obviously guilty beyond redemption. As is anyone who acknowledges the extraordinary electoral power of the Jewish Vote in US politics by making favourable references to Israel. (Did anyone hear Bernie condemn “Israel’s apartheid regime”?)
The “Bernie-or-Bust” die-hards who, unlike their mentor, refuse to recognise the brute realities of American presidential politics, have proved to be fast learners when it comes to orchestrating exactly the same phantasmagorical parade of falsehoods that, hitherto, Clinton only had to fend off from the Right.
Hillary has become “Killary”. Bumper-stickers scream “Liar, liar, pants-suit on fire!” Never mind that the US media’s fact-checkers have pronounced Clinton the most truthful of all the major primary contenders. Or that on her watch as Secretary of State the USA markedly improved its global conduct.
The only conclusion to be drawn from the above is that, in the minds of politicised Millennials, the meaning of “progressive” has changed. It now means: “Somebody who could not possibly be elected President of the United States.”
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 11 August 2016.
Hillary I believe progress I doubt. Progressives believe in ever expanding horizons and a malleable human nature. Progressive = overshoot.
I'm puzzled; Have you watched her interview available on The information clearing House " We came we saw he died giggle giggle" .
Do you believe that she has been involved through the CIA in seeking regime change in Iraq, Libya and Syria or not? And if you do, do you believe that this is the appropriate way for the US to behave in the world?
Do you believe she will maintain an opposition to the TPPA or the TTIP once she is in power?
Do you believe she will do anything in America to reset capitalism to save it from itself?
I'm afraid I don't believe any of these things but the first.
The only sense in which Trump is preferable is that he is completely unpredictable so some things he does might accidentally turn out all right, With Hillary Clinton she is predictable , and it all looks bad to me.
Oooh I think you are going to get a lot of reaction too this article Chris. Personally I don't think she is the angel on the right side of God.
In my view we should strip away the look of Donald Trump (quite horrible) and the invective (quite infantile) and look at what he is actually saying. Obviously what he is saying strikes a cord with his audience. And who is his audience? It is all those people who have suffered, and suffered terribly, from globalisation. Just like all those people who voted for Brexit. He is against NAFTA, TPPA and the similar European Agreement, the initials of which I can never remember and, it seems, a return to fiscal policies rather than relying on monetary policy. Now I am against them, the treaties that is, too so would I vote for him? I don't know….. I certainly wouldn’t vote for Hilary. She is too dangerous. The next question is whether he could implement what he is saying? Probably not. Americans believe they have a democracy but they don’t. They have an oligarchy which controls America. Voting doesn’t mean you have a democracy. If it did then the whole world is a democracy and we know that is not true. Should he be given a go? Maybe. The risk for the world is the same as if Hilary became President. But he is offering a bit more than eternal war. Of course we could ask him to extend that Mexican wall he is promising right round America………
I'm not sure that Clinton's weaknesses put her beyond redemption to any but a few. But the fact is she is known to be a hawk. Now that might be the result of having to appear strong on national security compared to Republicans, but it still makes her a hawk.
And while she says that she is in favour of a number of progressive economic and social policies, she has still taken a lot of money from those banks that manage to bugger up the economy in 2008 for doing very little. Which means I think that people are entitled to ask questions about their influence on her, post-election. It may well be that she will pursue policies inimical to Goldman Sachs' interests, but if I were a voting American, I would withhold judgement on that until I saw what she actually does by way of policy.
Doesn't mean to say I would vote for Trump mind, the guy is barking mad. An indecisive, narcissist and fantasist who will not only damage America, but the rest of the world. Supported by people who want to take away women's reproductive rights, the rights of non-Christians, and who are trying to restrict access to the democratic process for poor people in general.
In my conversations with people on various US websites, the consensus seems to be damage limitation. The number of Bernie Bro's, with whom I have a certain amount of sympathy, (because there were in fact irregularities in the selection process) seems quite small. Most have come round to the fact that they must swallow a dead rat. Something we all have to do occasionally if not cheerfully.:)
The fact that she is and has been democrat for x number of years, and that she is a woman is enough for me to vote for her.
Donald Trump is proving to be a grotesque lying monster who has made this election and if a subsequent elected President, very dangerous for her.
To be a successful President she will have to embrace some of Sanders viewpoints.
There is no doubt that American policy in the Middle East has led to the rise in Daesh numbers, I wince every time the Obama/ Clinton administration attack the Russian/ Syria coalition, Obama has become more muted in condemnation in the last 12 months or so, I think and hope that President Clinton (if elected) will attempt to foster good relations with Russia. The Western World should never forget the sacrifice and fight back of the Stalin (Soviet Regime) in the 2nd World War.
President Clinton (if elected) should detect from the fumblings and mumblings of Donald Trump that the American people are would be open to rapprochement with Russia.
This says it all:
This says it all (why people vote Trump):
Chris, this is all you need: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=908887349223586&set=p.908887349223586&type=3&theater
Extraordinary, the way liberals fall for a neo liberal hawk like HRC, the Goldwater girl. Lesser evilism, huh? One area where Chomsky is wrong. Who exactly is the lesser evil?
Part of the problem is the way that some Clinton supporters infantalise Sanders supporters as 'millenials', who know nothing about politics, as though there's nothing to the left of Clinton, and as though that's any way to win their votes. It takes a wooden political ear not to hear that people (not only Millenials, and not only Americans) are increasingly disassociated from politics-as-usual, which is why they're turning to demagogues like Donald Trump. Ridiculing those people fails to observe the most basic fact about democracy, which is that they have a vote. If the left fails to address this then they stand to lose far more than Hillary's long-awaited progression to the presidency.
Pull the other one Chris, its got bells on. Heres a woman describing herself as feminist who has been multiply cuckolded by her sexual predator husband, yet has stood by him. Regardless of ensuring allegations that she harassed said sisters it hardly fits a squeaky feminist posture. More relevant is the question of can we trust her given she is capable of trusting the untrustworthy? Or turning a blind eye.
Another proven Hillaryism...the mail server. She got caugbt fair and square breaking the rules. It did demonstrate one thing: shes got the right "friends " helping her super weasel abilities. Watch Wikileaks for further revelations.
Free trade. Workers rights. Support of and from Wall St. Donations from every dubious oil lord...its all on the record. Your snow job is so so wrong Chris.
There is a general feeling that the wheels have come off the bus (I think) the last to feel it are successful progressives ("I don't know anyone who voted for brexit"). Trump is saying America is stuffed; Hillary is saying something positive like "America hasn't even started.." I just read a review of peter Schiffs book where he says America should declare bankruptcy and recommends cutting back on government spending. This suggests the family is too big and the income is too poor so the hangers on need to go somewhere out of sight, dry up and blow away. It all seems logical to me. The modern western progressive does not know hardship and does not expect it. A couple of Japanese have told me Slum dog millionaire reminded them of their child hood!?
No, THIS says it all. (Actually, no doesn't but it is quite interesting.)
If Hillary’s left wing credentials are demonstrated by a Presidential a half century ago, let's not forget that she also campaigned against George McGovern in 68' and she was a "Goldwater Girl" prior to that!
Yes, Senator Clinton did support an invasion of Iraq and has always been a Hawk for troop surges in both Iraq and Afghanistan. More importantly, she also formulated illegal military intervention for regime change in Libya and recent Wikileaks emails show she was also involved in covertly supplying arms to Jihadists in Syria, a fact she later lied to congress about under oath.
Many would also say that Obama is in the progressive tradition of Franklyn Roosevelt too. Unlike Roosevelt, Obama has been firmly in lock-step with laissez-faire doctrine with a dismal record of furthering the erosion of the social contract and democratic republic. In any other period, the American left would have been outraged at a president who issued kill orders against its citizens, including children. Indefinite detention, the removal of Habis Corpus, the enforcement of the Espionage Act against whistle-blowers revealing the activities of government, blanket monitoring of the citizenry, the TPP, the authorisation of regime change military actions & the support of horrendous dictatorial regimes on the basis of geopolitics is anything but progressive. The liberal left however, prefers to focus on identity politics and colour of his skin.
As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has been deeply involved with and supportive of all of the reactionary elements of Obama's presidency. Her track record as a Director of Walmart demonstrated a steadfast silence over a corporate determination to prevent unions from being formed. She remains committed to Free Trade and corporate "partnership". She maintains strong links with and support from the most powerful establishment figures in the United States including the Koch brothers, Walmart family etc. You have to go to #22 on the Rich List to find an American Billionaire not publicly supporting Hillary Clinton for President.
"Experts" suggesting Hillary Clinton is similar to Elizabeth Warren is surreal. Their respective relationships with corporate America couldn’t be more different & Clinton was reportedly warned by Wall Street donors to keep Warren off the ticket. Warren made her name for consistently attacking Wall Street while. Hillary's presidential fundraisers have been organised by directors from JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, the Carlyle Group, Blackrock and dozens of other enormous corporations and equity funds.
The nexus of institutional and corporate power of which Bill and Hillary Clinton are entrenched is astounding. The online documentary Clinton Cash is an important investigation into the pattern of behaviour between large corporate donations to the Clinton Foundation coinciding with decisions made by Hillary - contrary to the ideals she publicly espoused. The money trail of donations through the Foundation should be deeply troubling to anyone believing that what you hear from Hillary is what you actually get.
What I can't fathom is how anyone from the left, with an understanding of Economic Class can believe a change in the relations of power can be expected from an Establishment candidate actively supported by the most powerful individuals and corporations in the United States today.
The working class has been devastated by neoliberalism and are desperate for an outsider to break the status-quo of falling living standards and impoverishment. Trump’s support is a result of neoliberalism but his emergence is now used by the liberal left as the justification for supporting the establishment. Historically, in times of social breakdown & economic collapse, for all of its talk, the liberal class could always be relied upon to fall in behind the establishment and this election is proving no different.
I have never understood why so many people vote against their best option in order to ‘teach them a lesson’. The only lesson to be learned is a lesson for the voter: Life is never perfect. Give the best (albeit not perfect) option a kicking, and you make it even easier for the worst option to succeed.
Chris you would be on sounder ground if you said Hillary must get the vote in an election against Trump and the young American left are mad not to see that, and leave it at that. She certainly should get their vote, even if she is guilty of some of the things she is accused of, as I believe is likely. She is undeniably beholden to big biz (years on the Walmart (yuk) board don’t you know). That is not a crime and is the American way. But she may well be actually corrupt.
I have just spent 4 weeks traveling across the US twice (plus 2 weeks in Israel, which is irrelevant except btw to those who allege Apartheid there. I say BS, and do not lessen the foulness of Apartheid by such pathetic slanderous bigotry. It is as gross as Maori claiming to have suffered a Holocaust..). And btw as you know Sanders is Jewish and most US Jews are Democrats, even the rich ones and are they are perfectly entitled to support Israel which they mostly do but not uncritically.
Anyway I too was wondering why on earth there is such distain by Democrats and hate by Republicans of the Clintons (not just her) so I dared ask most people. The democrats (all) said they have had it with cozy dynasties from the rich elite, which is a sound point, and the Republicans (all) say she & Bill are corrupt, ie actually on the take (some Dems said this too). They say they have salted away about $100m+ since Bill was Pressy. Mostly through a fake charity. So you are saying that is a straight lie. Well I’m not sure. They sure are rich for a couple of nobody lawyers from Arkansas. And lefties can be corrupt too. The Kennedy family were rich and corrupt or at least highly dodgy; so why not the Clintons?
I also refer you to a damning piece by John MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s and presumably a Dem, printed in The Spectator 26 Mar 16 spelling out her moral corruption and complete lack of any progressiveness, other than some platitudes which therefore are just vote catching lies.
Here’s a quote:
‘The Clintons specialise in double-talk and hypocrisy. Promoting the virtues and ‘inevitability’ of globalisation is deeply cynical when incomes are stagnant or falling - when blue-collar workers see their jobs and the futures of their children evaporating into smoke clouds over Juarez or Shanghai. But it’s worse when you masquerade as a friend of the working class, all the while taking huge campaign donations from financial firms and $225,000 a speech from GS.’
His argument is it’s the likes of the fake progressive Clintons who have created Trump the uber-ugly presidential candidate:
‘Trump’s working class supporters are supposed to be stupid about a lot of things, including foreign policy. But they are clearly smart enough to understand that it was they or their kids, not Chelsea Clinton or her hedge-funder husband, who fought the stupid war in Iraq. Hillary has never apologised for voting…’
So like a Dem couple I stayed with in California, who with their Dem friends are all well off, MacArthur says he will not vote for Clinton or Trump. One is dodgy, the other a pig. If it was me I’d vote for her to stop him. Voting is fundamentally about the lesser of two evils, every time, everywhere.
An interesting quote from a Guardian opinion piece.
"But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsement, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.
She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street."
Though some American columnists claim she is not reaching out to those Republicans who have abandoned Trump. Just goes to show the perils of prediction :).
I would be surprised if Hillary would take a similar approach to FDR, obviously updated for the twenty-first century.
I think she is more likely to be like her husband. Which in terms of the Left would not make her progressive, rather that she is a moderate. However, it is easy to forget that the US did well economically when Bill was the President, not just for the elite but quite broadly. She might have to acknowledge Sanders a bit, especially if Elizabeth Warren is part of her cabinet. A bit more intervention, a bit more public spending and a higher minimum wage.
As for the warmonger label, well I do think the Bernie or bust types are being ridiculous. It would seem the only thing that would satisfy them is complete US isolationism (actually that seems to be where Trump is). However, any realistic President has to deal with ISIS, the US is not going to abandon NATO, the US is actually a Pacific country with sovereign territory right across the Pacific. It is therefore going to be the leading nation in the Pacific for the next few decades. The Bernie or bust types might want isolationism, for me that would be a much more dangerous world than at present.
Obama understood that if you want to be President, you immediately assume a global role. Paring it back too quickly can have some drastic consequences. I imagine he now wishes that the US kept say 20,000 troops in Iraq in 2009. He would not be dealing with ISIS today.
And in Libya, well it does seem that it is getting back on a track to stability. It does seem that when an absolute dictator is deposed as Gaddafi was (mostly by his own people), there is vacuum which does not get filled easily.
So I expect Hillary to be a bit like Obama in foreign policy, perhaps learning some lessons on the way (but of course always able to make new mistakes).
Leave the feminists to pass their opinions or idle judgments on whether HC should have stuck by Bill or given him the push. Feminism is supposed to be about women able to make their own decisions. She rode out the problem, and you say gave the other players a hard time, made a reasoned and emotional decision that suited her best and decided to live with it and keep him as a partner. He possibly has a better sense of humour, is a good talker and will age better than other wealthy prospects. Her decision, not that of bystanders trumpeting feminist theories. She probably applies similar reflective thinking on what suits her best to all judgments she makes.
Trotter comments that NZ political 'scientists' call H. Clinton a social democrat. Well, you got that one wrong too. I am a political studies academic and I don't think she is a social democrat. Soft neoliberal at best. I very much doubt she will overturn the neoliberal policy regime or paradigm.
I take your point about Sanders being more new deal than 'democratic socialist' though. Democratic socialist is a misleading label given how many other strands of socialism are democratic - indeed more democratic (eg. based on participatory democracy).
thanks Toby Boraman
"And in Libya, well it does seem that it is getting back on a track to stability. It does seem that when an absolute dictator is deposed as Gaddafi was (mostly by his own people), there is vacuum which does not get filled easily."
Something you claimed about Afghanistan and Iraq if I remember Wayne. And surely the vacuum thing should have been considered before those countries were destabilised rather than after? Hillary is one of those American leaders who doesn't seem to have learned anything from Vietnam. I.e. never get involved in a land war in Asia. :)
Okay Chris, so this:
"(plus 2 weeks in Israel, which is irrelevant except btw to those who allege Apartheid there. I say BS, and do not lessen the foulness of Apartheid by such pathetic slanderous bigotry. It is as gross as Maori claiming to have suffered a Holocaust..)."
Is not off topic, but my correction of Charles's misapprehension is. Now I love these new rules. Probably more than most. But if they are going to be applied, they should – and you notice I don't say must, because I have absolutely no control over what you do in your blog – be applied equally. So as soon as Charles introduced that dig at those of us who support Palestinians, because as we all know Charles can't resist a dig, he perhaps should have been in the interest of fairness, told to edit his post and remove it. Perhaps you could explain exactly what the differences so I can avoid being modded in future?
To: Guerilla Surgeon.
The reason I applied the new rules, GS, was because your comment threatened to divert this commentary thread on to a whole new topic - Israel/Palestine.
Charles had mentioned Israel parenthetically, just as I had in the posting. Dig or not, it should not have been taken as an opportunity to launch into a staunch defence of the Palestinian cause.
Save that for another - more relevant - posting. God knows, Israel/Palestine has already provided, and will go on offering, plenty of opportunities for me to post - and you to comment.
Grey read again. Its about trusting her judgement. Yes let the feminists argue the point.
Okay Chris, nice to have your thoughts on this. So if I want to go off topic I just introduced things parenthetically. Thank you, I will remember that.
Many would also say that Obama is in the progressive tradition of Franklyn Roosevelt too. Unlike Roosevelt, Obama has been firmly in lock-step with laissez-faire doctrine with a dismal record of furthering the erosion of the social contract and democratic republic
Franklin D. Roosevelt was born to a lifetime of privilege, deliberately let anti-lynching legislation die in Congress, allegedly remarked that a certain right-wing dictator was "a son of a bitch, but at least he's our son of a bitch", and put people of Japanese extraction in internment camps.
If the ideological purists who so loathe Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were at all consistent, they would be flinging vitriol at Roosevelt too.
Wayne, It is always good to get your perspective. You mouth the zeitgeist of the current political class admirably which makes you a reliable thermometer. You use words like moderate, left, centre, right. I invite you to dial the temperature of those words to the days we were students and Muldoon was PM. I suggest what you describe as moderate now would then equate to extreme right. Left now would equate to right of centre then. How say you? Where would Clinton stand vis a vis Kennedy? What say you?
Trump can be seen as the true progressive in this two horse race. He is the one who has challenged the military industrial complex in questioning the USA's military adventurism. Clinton is business as usual.
When faced with two unpalatable choices, it's tempting to go for the least flawed option. I agree with Chris that it seems more sensible. Yet isn't it really a false dichotomy?
I also agree with commentators who reject both options. I think American democracy is now so fake that the third of their electorate who reject both wings of the establishment are the most sensible group.
People who don't learn from history have probably never wondered why the Greeks abandoned democracy more than two millennia back, after inventing it a few centuries earlier. A common-interest political frame is easily gamed via competing groups breeding sectarianism. Comprehensive examination of what happened can be found in the excellent "First Democracy" by Paul Woodruff. The Americans seem intent on reinventing that wheel...
people shouldn't be allowed to vote until they can prove they have read the arguments (is that too much to ask?).
I which case this guy should be in with a chance
In stead people are asked to choose a supposedly uber individual whose mind will hover from the heights (a mini-me God).
JH I was just reading an article the other day that suggested that compulsory voting in fact makes the electorate more knowledgeable. Actual science too. Perhaps it's time.
When faced with two unpalatable choices, it's tempting to go for the least flawed option. I agree with Chris that it seems more sensible. Yet isn't it really a false dichotomy? Dennis Frank
The alternative is to give up and not vote at all. The real devil in the woodpile is that the three-cornered rubik's cube is unsolvable. The answer is that there is no answer.
I feel that the commenters are becoming too serious and doom-laden. Time for the Simpsons to shine some light on the subject.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLSy8Tl2bjs (and that should give you a raft of clips to enjoy).
Then a short clip from Brewsters Millions where he exhorts people to vote for None of the Above and tells them not to send in support money because they are going to need it after the election.
I can't give you the link to the movie made in 1985 as a nice lady in red assures me that it can be seen elsewhere - at her place. You will have to find her address yourself, happy watching.
I have felt for some time that not voting if you can't find a party that will govern in your interests is a valid option. If I was in the US I would be seriously considering not voting at all, because I don't trust Clinton to govern in the interests of ordinary people, and Trump is barking mad. Mind you that's putting a certain amount of trust in Trump's advisors should he become president to keep him from involving is all in a nuclear war or something tragic.
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