Hillary Clinton: Problem for the Left, Gift for the Right
It would be embarrassing to watch Brian Schweitzer run for president, and lord knows he is only criticizing Hillary Clinton to strengthen his own political brand. That said, I am praying to baby Jesus that Hillary Clinton doesn’t become president.
I hope those who support a(nother) Clinton candidacy can articulate why her brand of neoliberalism is worth voting for, and I hope those who support her have more of a reason than it’s a her, and not a him. We’re not electing a role model for girls.
I know, I’m a white male, so I’m probably not allowed to say that. My existence is one of privileges I have the privilege of not thinking about. I have this annoying preference, though, for substance over symbolism, which has led me to speculate how impactful our current president is for young black men when he’s enabling stop and frisk harassment, continuing the drug war, and protecting bailed out bankers who targeted minorities with subprime loans.
With Hillary Clinton, there are substantive concerns from the left about her ability to address the economic reality that is leading millennials to consider socialism. Here’s Richard Kim, writing for The Nation:
Here’s how I see it: America has a lot of problems, the most acute of which is the yawning gap between the rich and everyone else. According to Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of all income gains in the so-called recovery, while the bottom 99 percent barely gained at all. And the chances of anyone breaking into that uppermost echelon are dwindling. As a slew of recent studies have shown, America has less class mobility than it used to and less than Canada or Western Europe; an American child born in the lowest quintile has just a 6 percent chance of rising to the top quintile—42 percent will stay at the bottom.
These grim data are more than just an abstraction; they are, as Peter Beinart argues in a Daily Beast article on “The Rise of the New New Left,” the defining condition of the millennial generation, who face scarcer job prospects, lower wages, fewer benefits and a weaker social safety net than those before them. All that anger and discontent that boiled up at Occupy Wall Street two years ago wasn’t swept away with the encampments. It’s simmering, waiting, and even if elections aren’t always the conduit for youth insurrections, it’s hard to see a whole cohort sitting the next big one out as the American dream crumbles around them.
It’s also hard to imagine a Democrat of national stature more ill-equipped to speak to this populist mood than Hillary Clinton. Yes, her tenure at State gave her the rehabilitating Texts From Hillary Clinton Tumblr and the thickest diplomatic passport the world has ever known, but a taste for class warfare it most certainly did not. To wit: her decision to house her post-cabinet, pre-campaign apparatus at the foundation her husband started, now rechristened the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The organization, and the related Clinton Global Initiative, carries some lofty intentions—planting trees in sub-Saharan Africa, empowering women and girls, treating HIV and malaria, and saving endangered elephants. But as Alec MacGillis captured in a devastating feature for The New Republic, it also serves as a kind of global plutocrats’ social club—a Davos on the Hudson where corporate executives pledge millions for the privilege of rubbing elbows with celebrities and world leaders. They also, according to MacGillis, throw some lucre back to the Clinton apparatchiks who greased the wheels, like Doug Band, Bill’s former body man, who managed to turn his lowly position as jacket holder and BlackBerry keeper into a consulting business that afforded him $8.8 million in Manhattan real estate.
In glittering Clintonland, Band is now on the outs, but he was always small fry. The foundation counts among its major partners billionaires and corporate giants like Walmart, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, Mike Bloomberg, Hollywood mogul Steve Bing and Paychex chairman Tom Golisano, who habitually ran for New York governor until he moved to Florida in 2009 because, as he explained in a pique-filled op-ed, he’d save “$13,800 every single day” on taxes. Maybe HRC won’t solicit the advice of all these folks, but she surely will solicit their donations. And once she does, how keen will she be to tell them that their gains are ill gotten, that they’ll need to pay more, not in tax-deductible charitable contributions, but in taxes?
This continues to be a ridiculous conversation to be having 800+ days before the 2016 election. But there’s already money being generated, and if you think Hillary Clinton will raise a lot of money for her presidential bid, just imagine what a fundraising gift her candidacy will be for Republicans.