Refusing to choose Clinton

by Jeff Millman / Beacon Correspondent • January 20, 2016

When Hillary Clinton promises in television advertisements to support people over profits, or the working class over corporations, surely this is self-conscious irony?

Leftist politics in the United States is in shambles. The very word has lost all meaning, at least as long as people continue to use it to refer to Clinton. Her policies are terrible, and everything about her exudes hypocrisy and corruption. Despite claiming to stand for human rights, worker’s rights, and women’s rights, Clinton has done a great job of standing for none of those things. From her oversight and approval of the Obama administration’s horrific drone strike assassination campaign—which has, in a conservative estimate, killed nearly one thousand innocent civilians and hundreds of children, and injured thousands more in several different countries—to her open support of the Israeli government, which continues to displace and destroy Palestinian lives every day, Clinton is a conservative in a liberal pantsuit.

Her tirades against the Republicans’ support of corporations are laughable. During her tenure as Secretary of State, she directly negotiated overseas contracts for corporations like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric (Bloomberg Businessweek even went so far as to call her a “corporate cheerleader”). Classified documents released by Wikileaks revealed that in 2009, the U.S. Department of State worked with subcontractors from Levi’s, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to oppose minimum wage increases for poor workers at sweatshops in Haiti.

The majority of the Clinton Foundation’s donors are enormous corporations, many of them fossil fuel lobbyists, oil companies, and banks. Pacific Rubiales, one of the world’s largest oil companies, has funneled millions of dollars into the foundation. This company was also at the center of a worker’s rights scandal in 2011, during which factory employees in Colombia protested extremely poor conditions and rights abuses. They were rounded up at gunpoint by the Colombian military and told to stop protesting. One would think this would provide a wonderful opportunity for a self-proclaimed supporter of the working class to speak out against exploitation; instead, Clinton lauded Colombia’s human rights record, and gladly accepted Pacific Rubiales’ donation of several million dollars.

The meaninglessness of Clinton’s leftist rhetoric also goes for her supposed feminism. It is a wonder that today’s feminists, so attuned to the dangers of victim-blaming and distrust towards rape accusations, would support a candidate who, in the late ‘90s, partook in the campaign to discredit and destroy the reputations of women accusing Bill Clinton of sexual assault. More than 17 women made allegations, and most of them were waved away by the Clintons. Clinton also lobbied Congress to support her husband’s welfare reform in the mid-’90s, a plan that gutted existing welfare programs and, according to Incite-National, an activist organization for women of color, did extreme harm to poor women of color and their children. This led to worsening conditions, increased homelessness, hunger, and lack of childcare. And Clinton’s open support for dictatorships in Honduras and Morocco make her feminist appeals even more ludicrous. Despite her happy claims that these post-coup governments have expanded women’s rights, the facts tell a much more sobering story. More than 35 murders a year against LGBT individuals and women occur in Honduras, while in Morocco, young women have taken to killing themselves with rat poison to escape forced marriages to rapists. Nevertheless, Clinton continues to tell bald-faced lies about the “progressiveness” of the dictators the United States has chosen to support, disguising their horrific crimes with her pseudo-humanitarian rhetoric.

People can’t actually believe the things Clinton claims in her advertisements, speeches, and writings. Her record shows that she has no interest in authentic leftist politics, or in any of the things she claims to support. Even her feminism is appropriated and corrupted: her speeches about the importance of women’s rights in the Middle East are disgustingly hypocritical, at least as long as she continues to support the practice of blowing up these groups with drones.

Of course, her ardent fans may claim that she is a pragmatist, working with the mess she’s been dealt, colluding with corporations that exploit and abuse their workers because it is in the country’s best interest, and supporting brutal drone strike policies because, well, you know: terrorism and stuff. (Nevermind the fact that our own foreign policy is often terrorism by another name, but the narrative of the United States as “the good guys” prevents us from recognizing this.) 

Is there freedom in a forced choice? On Election Day this year, many leftists and working people (and, I would argue, the whole country) will face such a choice. Two candidates who were neither chosen by the people, nor will support the majority of us, will nonetheless be presented to us for election. Perhaps the only way to circumvent a forced choice is to refuse to submit to it. The working class of the United States and of the world have to unite. Those who continue to be exploited and oppressed by people like Hillary Clinton, whether in this country or in the Middle East, have power – and not just the false power to vote in an election, but the power to change the political landscape entirely.