Several weeks ago, I dug into the background of one Senator Ted Cruz to make the case for why, at least on the Republican side of things, Donald Trump would be better for America. It's now time to look at the other major contest leading up to the November election: The Democratic battle between front-runner Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders.
Hillary Clinton is to the Democratic Party what Donald Trump has been to the Republican Party: A controversial, divisive candidate who draws passion from both her supporters and her detractors. My own personal experience on Twitter, for example, has been that Clinton supporters are every bit as fanatical and abusive as many Trump supporters. Last winter, when the Sanders campaign was accused of accessing the Clinton campaign's voter data, I was summarily harassed and blocked by another Democrat on Twitter because he and many fellow Hillary supporters were ready to crucify Sanders and his staff before the facts were even known. My crime was to call for completion of the investigation before rushing to judgement. For me, the reactions I saw from Hillary Clinton supporters were very disturbing and even reminiscent of some of the more raucous comments made by those who support Donald Trump.
And for me, this has been one of the more disturbing aspects of the Democratic side of the 2016 race. In this respect, Democrats are no better than Republicans, because we can't debate issues amongst ourselves or support our candidate of choice without demeaning, offensive, and even sexist comments being made either about their supporters or the candidates themselves.
I've seen more than a few comments about Clinton made by Sanders supporters which reflect very poorly on our party of choice, too -- comments which I have been quick to condemn when I've come across them. In short, there's no excuse for the level of vitriol we are seeing play out in our political process this election year. And yet, as the campaigns and political promises being made by both Cruz and Trump have made abundantly clear, it is a mentality that has been festering for many years now right under our noses.
On the Democratic side, this is being made clear by assertions that men who do not support Hillary Clinton are sexist. Recall that a few months ago, Jessica Valenti of The Guardian wrote that, "There is nothing wrong or foolish in thinking about a candidate's gender in an election" in a post which advocated that women vote for Hillary for the sole reason that she is a woman. The problem with such a message is that it also supports the opinion that any man who opposes her ascent into the presidency is automatically sexist.
For this reason, I've had to think long and hard about how to present this blog, and it is a big reason why it has taken me so long to write it. The fact is, ever since she campaigned in 2008, I have not seen her as a viable female candidate for President of the United States.
This decision even resulted in me losing a friend; for the sole reason that I supported Obama and she supported Hillary, she stated she couldn't remain friends with me. The exact reason she felt this way was never made clear. But when I choose not to support a candidate, I try to have very good reasons for that decision. The fact is, Hillary Clinton is fairly Republican-esque in her political leanings; in my opinion, we might as well vote for Donald Trump if we're going to put Hillary in the White House, because I firmly believe there are certain things she wants to do which are on par with some of his machinations. So for this piece, we will focus on four primary areas where Hillary Clinton is potentially the most dangerous: Greed and the economy; voting fraud and suppression; keeping America on a permanent war footing; and the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Greed and the Economy
One of Bernie Sanders' biggest talking points surrounding Hillary Clinton has been her ties to Wall Street, suggesting that she would not do enough to rein in the corruption which led to the economic collapse. It's no secret that Clinton has accepted huge sums of money from private speeches for various big-ticket corporations like Goldman-Sachs. The Washington Post had this to say about her seemingly insatiable greed:
Really? Even while secretary of state, as we know from her emails, her political antennae were on high alert. And certainly those who paid her exorbitant sums and donated to her foundation believed that she would run for president. That is what drove up her price.
The good Hillary Clinton -- knowledgeable, occasionally thoughtful (as when expounding on the centrality of gratitude in her life) -- is inseparable from the bad Hillary Clinton -- often dull and entirely incapable of hiding her greed. When she is hitting her stride, one can imagine how impressive she might be in a general election, but then fairly or not, she can be so unforgettably awful that her strengths are ignored.
The article further rips Clinton for disregarding the fact she is being paid so handsomely, because her motives are allegedly so pure:
Clinton sees herself as the put-upon do-gooder. She is entitled to bend or disregard the rules because her motives are so pure, you see. We cannot question her motives or her shortcuts since she is, in her own mind, above reproach. Those motives always entail her acquisition of great power and wealth. Coincidence? Hardly.
In fact, since 2001, both Bill and Hillary Clinton have given a combined total of over 700 speeches, in particular to banks such as the afore-mentioned Goldman-Sachs, UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank. Collectively, she raked in a cool $1.8 million from just these speaking engagements; in total, the Clintons have earned nearly $8 million from speaking engagements -- an average of over $200,000 per speech! How can we trust President Hillary to work to curtail the shadiest practices of America's big banks when she herself is one of their biggest beneficiaries? And what's possibly more insulting is that three of Hillary's speeches to Goldman-Sachs -- to the tune of $675,000 -- occurred even after she set her sights on the White House. As SFGate writes:
Start with a basic political fact: Many voters believe Wall Street got off too painlessly for its role in the financial collapse of 2008. Many Democrats blame big banks. So if you know you are going to run for president in the Democratic primary, you probably don't want financial giants paying you five times the American median household income for one speech. It makes you look beholden to fat cats, because -- Earth to Hillary -- most human beings are grateful when someone gives them six figures for a talk.
Hillary Clinton shows demonstrable, wealthy privilege when she brushes off such fees and contributions to her campaign -- placing herself completely aloof from the poor and middle class citizens of America she claims to represent. But her privilege and hypocrisy may have been cemented earlier this week.
Like Bernie Sanders, Clinton paid a visit in New York to the CWA Verizon strike to show support for their cause in standing up to Verizon's decisions to outsource jobs and close call centers, among other grievances:
But as revealed in a report by Salon, Hypocrite Hillary has apparently received $225,000 in speaking fees from Verizon. Not only that, but Verizon executives have contributed directly to her campaign, and the Clinton Foundation has earned a boatload from the company, as well:
The Hillary Clinton campaign, meanwhile, has received tens of thousands of dollars from Verizon executives and lobbyists.
That's not all. For a May 2013 speech, the corporation paid Clinton a whopping $225,000 honorarium, according to her tax records.
Verizon has also given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, which investigative journalist Ken Silverstein has referred to as a "so-called charitable enterprise [that] has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends."
Moreover, the Clinton Foundation has partnered directly with Verizon, which is notorious for its vehement opposition to unions. The corporation is a partner in the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, and said it is "proud to partner with the Clinton Foundation."
It is indefensible that Hypocrite Hillary can take hundreds of thousands of dollars from an anti-union corporation like Verizon and then turn around and claim to stand up for workers and for union rights. It is a grievous insult to the workers of this nation, and both she and Bill should be ashamed. The Clintons need to do the right thing and end any and all associations that they and the Clinton Foundation retain with Verizon.
The biggest question is just what all of this means for how she will handle the economy as a whole. Clinton originally was not even willing to go as far as Bernie Sanders on the subject of the minimum wage, initially advocating for only a $12 per hour minimum wage versus Sanders' support for $15. This is yet another issue on which she has apparently "evolved." But it's also another troubling sign of what a Clinton administration might do for the broader economy as it relates to wages and corporate corruption. And should Republicans threaten a government shutdown over economic items -- the debt ceiling, for example -- they don't agree with, will President Hillary be more likely to capitulate to their demands and possibly harm America in the process?
Voting Fraud and Suppression
Allegations abound over whether or not Hillary Clinton and her team have worked to suppress the vote in multiple primaries. Such claims may be difficult to prove, but it does seem more than a bit coincidental that they have arisen after Hillary victories in multiple primaries:
- In Massachusetts, Bill Clinton himself was seen inside at least two polling locations, in Newton and West Roxbury, allegedly telling at least one to, "Pull the lever for Hillary." Problem is, state law prohibits any form of campaigning within 150 feet of any polling place on Election Day. Clinton was cleared by the state of any wrongdoing despite apparently clearly violating these regulations.
For a more consolidated explanation of possible voter fraud committed by the Clinton campaign and/or by the Democratic Party as a whole, see this article on The Huffington Post.
The sad fact is, just doing a search for something like "Hillary Clinton voter suppression" immediately turned up dozens of relevant results. Sure, one can claim that these are all sour grapes by Bernie Sanders supporters who don't want to see her elected. At the same time, however, when multiple, consistent accounts of voter suppression begin appearing across a number of different sources, it's impossible to dismiss every single one of them. This would be akin to continuing to deny that Bill Cosby committed rape and/or other sex-related crimes even after dozens of women have come forward to accuse him; at some point, we have to accept the reality that something is happening.
And yet it should really be no surprise that Hillary backers, including those from the DNC itself, are pulling out every trick in the book to anoint her to the presidency. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is herself a friend of Hillary Clinton and has committed a number of questionable acts seen to benefit Clinton. Among them: Scheduling debates for times when fewer people would likely watch; allowing Clinton campaign offices to coexist within official DNC offices while not giving the Sanders campaign the same option; and even failing to discipline a DNC staffer for fundraising for Clinton in direct violation of DNC rules. But Wasserman Schultz is clearly not biased in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Wasserman Schultz is an extremely polarizing figure for the Democratic Party as a whole. She is even leading the charge to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its attempts to prevent payday lenders from preying on the financially insecure. Of course, Schultz also immediately blocked the Sanders campaign from accessing its own voter data after the infamous data breach last winter, even though the staffer accused of the act was immediately fired. This was in violation of the DNC's own rules, but when Debbie Wasserman Schultz sees a way to sabotage Bernie Sanders in favor of her "Chosen One," what do a few broken rules matter?
Whether or not it can ever be directly proven that Hillary Clinton, her campaign, or the DNC as a whole, actually committed voter suppression or even outright fraud, one thing is clear: Clinton and her allies will seemingly go to any lengths to ensure she wins the presidency. As such, the American people cannot trust her to govern with any degree of integrity should she be elected.
Keeping America on Permanent War Footing
To her credit, Hillary Clinton has now admitted the grievous error that was her vote to support granting President George W. Bush the authority to begin the war in Iraq. In fact, this article does a good job of explaining the circumstances surrounding that vote, and the naive trust that she and others all put into President Bush that he would not use the authority to run roughshod over the rules of war and international law -- which, of course, he did.
Fair enough; Clinton's biggest crime here may simply have been placing a little too much trust in the younger Bush. So soon after the 9/11 attacks, this at least is a little more justifiable, even if it still places everyone who voted for this authority on the wrong side of history. The larger problem, however, is Clinton's consistent war-mongering throughout the years.
One of Clinton's more disturbing positions is that she supports the continued use of unmanned drones to kill alleged terrorists on foreign soil, without due process in a court of law, and in direct violation of the sovereignty of the countries in question. But even beyond likely being a violation of international law, America's drone strikes program kills innocent civilians roughly 90% of the time. Moreover, civilian deaths linked to US drone strikes provide propaganda for terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda to use in their recruiting campaigns, allowing them to effectively position the United States as enemies of Islam and of Allah. Combined with isolationist and Islamophobic policies like those presented by Donald Trump, there may be no better recruitment tools available to Islamic terror organizations. In fact, many Pakistanis may now believe that American drone strikes are a primary motivation for al Qaeda and Taliban forces to hit both security and civilian targets. Yet Hillary Clinton would continue this violent, disastrous extension of American foreign policy, potentially continuing to complicate any chance we have at building the coalition we need with the Muslim community to wipe out ISIS.
Furthermore, back in 2006, Clinton voted to block an amendment to a defense appropriations bill which would have eliminated America's use of cluster bombs in areas with concentrated civilian populations. Cluster bombs, in simple terms, are massive bombs containing a large number of smaller bombs. When the main bomb detonates, the smaller ones can be dispersed over an area as wide as several soccer fields. Each of their explosions, in turn, send out shrapnel which can maim or kill anyone within a roughly 25-meter radius. And because anywhere between 5% and 40% of the smaller bombs may not detonate properly, they can remain in the ground for years until passersby unknowingly trigger them. It's partially because of this characteristic that some 27% of all cluster bomb victims are children. (Source)
Yet Hillary's position on America's use of cluster munitions in populated areas seemingly continues a trend that former President Bill Clinton himself started when he refused to sign the Ottawa Treaty, a pact designed to end the production, use, and transfer of landmines, which still kill thousands of people every year. The Ottawa Treaty was signed by more than 2/3 of the world's nations in 1997; President Clinton blatantly refused, even saying that "I could not sign in good conscience the treaty banning landmines." As with cluster bombs, many of the resulting landmine fatalities are children.
Clinton also seems content to continue George W. Bush's seemingly endless -- and arguably failed -- "war on terror." She is quoted as telling The Atlantic:
"[O]ne of the reasons why I worry about what's happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States...How do we try to contain that? I'm thinking a lot about containment, deterrence and defeat."
Remember that it was Bush's initiation of the Iraq war which has ultimately led to the collapse of any stability within Iraq, as well as the rise of the ISIS. If elected, Hillary Clinton is almost certain to continue warfare against an ideology -- a war which is ultimately doomed to fail spectacularly while untold thousands more innocents die in the bloodshed. We can also add a desire to topple Muammar Gadhafi, along with a litany of other violent aspirations, to Clinton's portfolio of war-mongering. Clinton's apparent thirst for blood, even at the risk of killing children whom she claims to care about, certainly makes me want to vote for her in November...
The Israel/Palestine Conflict
I'm not going to pretend that I am well-versed in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. What I am more knowledgeable about, however, are the crimes against humanity that Israel commits against Palestinians virtually every single day. Israel frames itself as a victim of Palestinian terrorists, and if you only watch mainstream Western news outlets, you might be brainwashed into believing this is true. Western media outlets tend to paint a picture of Israel as a sympathetic nation who is just trying to defend its people from constant terrorist threats from its Palestinian neighbors. (Side note: I find CBSN's typically pro-Israel coverage in news stories and interviews to be particularly appalling.) But if you actually read non-traditional news sources or follow independent journalists such as Rania Khalek on Twitter, you'll see a much more brutal side of Israel, a side which targets civilians, including children, for slaughter, and which openly advocates for genocide of the entire Palestinian population. I want to share some of the worst atrocities I have found committed by Israel in recent months (advance warning that some images within these links may be extremely graphic and disturbing):
- Defence for Children International in October 2015 noted that, "Amid escalating violence and an increasingly militarised environment where Israeli forces and settlers operate with complete impunity, Palestinian children have been subject to disproportionate violence" (emphasis added). The article linked here notes that just between October 6th and 12th, over 200 children were injured by Israeli attacks, and fears were raised that Israel had adopted a "shoot-to-kill" policy with regard to Palestinian children.
Israel's policies towards the Palestinian population have been branded by some as "apartheid." On Danny Danon, appointed by Benjamin Netanyahu to represent Israel at the United Nations:
Not when the prime minister's choice to represent all of us, all of Israel at the United Nations, is a man who proposed legislation to annex the West Bank, effectively creating Bantustans for Palestinians who would live there stateless, deprived of basic human rights.
The man who will represent all of us at the United Nations, the man who will speak to the Third World on our behalf, is the same man who called African asylum seekers in Israel "a national plague."
The man who will represent all of us at the United Nations is the same politician who proposed legislation aimed at crippling left-leaning NGOs which come to the aid of Palestinian civilians and oppose the institution of occupation, while giving the government a green light to keep financially supporting right-wing NGOs suspected of channeling funds to support violence by pro-settlement Jews.
So where does Hillary Clinton fall on all of this? The answer is in complete support of Israel. At AIPAC mere weeks ago, Clinton asserted that the United States must take its relationship with Israel "to the next level," calling for the US to arm their soldiers with the most advanced weaponry possible. Her pronouncements at AIPAC ignore all of Israel's myriad crimes against the Palestinian population, condemning rockets fired into Israel by Hamas but fully ignoring 2,250 Palestinian deaths -- 550 of them children -- caused by Israel's reckless military campaigns, and also ignoring the Israeli government's calls for the extermination of the Palestinian population. And where Bernie Sanders -- the only presidential candidate to turn down an invitation to speak at AIPAC -- called for a more level playing field in the conflict, Clinton retaliated by saying that "America can't ever be neutral when it comes to Israel's security" and that anyone wishing to be neutral "has no business being our president."
Hillary Clinton will continue America's blind devotion and support of Israel, whose militaristic apartheid seeks nothing more than the complete extermination of the entire Palestinian population. This devotion makes our nation complicit in both war crimes and crimes against humanity. Similar to our establishment of Guantanamo Bay and the subsequent torture of terrorism suspects against human rights and the Geneva Conventions, this becomes a dark symbol of American ideology and places us firmly on the wrong side of history and against the values Americans continue to fight for. It's no wonder that Palestine was among the first to support the protesters in Ferguson, MO, after Michael Brown's death by the police; they understand more than anyone the senseless violence that can befall a populace simply seeking freedom and justice.
We Can't Trust Hillary to Get It Right
The biggest argument I hear on Twitter for why we should automatically vote for Hillary Clinton is that she is the most experienced candidate. This may be true. Certainly, she's not only been a senator, but she's also been a First Lady and the United States Secretary of State. Few can deny her experience in government or her credentials.
But what do credentials matter when you are lacking in judgement? Credentials are fine, but credentials do not illustrate a person's behavior, attitude, or ability to perform. Sanders is right to question Hillary Clinton's judgement on critical issues. Her previous votes to support expanded US involvement in the Middle East, as well as her strong financial ties to corrupt banks and corporations, clearly demonstrate that she does not have the integrity or decision-making capability we need in a truly strong Commander-in-Chief. Hillary Clinton is unable to make good decisions the first time; she even at one time supported Donald Trump's border wall before adopting her currently more moderate tone on immigration policy. And while it's certainly progress that she has seemingly "evolved" on so many issues over the years, the President of the United States often has just ONE chance to make the right decision on critical issues of national and economic security. Do we really want to elect someone who has proven time and time again that she does not have the capacity to do this?
Hillary's supporters need to overlook the possibility of electing the first woman president and realize that she is simply not the right woman for this job. Yes, America is ready for a woman president, just as it was ready for a black president when President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008. But it must be the right woman. Hillary Clinton will never be that woman. And come November, I can proudly declare without guilt: I am NOT with her.