March 11, 2016

The Clintons' New Democrat Party

The Modern Democratic Party was founded on the Principles of liberalism and socialism. Putting aside the racist element, they did not believe in the concept of oligarchy,  fascism or totalitarianism. They subscribed to a democratic freedom which at the core was the belief the duty of a country or nation is to see to the welfare of its citizens. That is the root ideology of the Democratic Party.  They ran on issues like universal healthcare, strong unions, and consumer protection. Democrats believed in reigning in corporations and bankers to ensure they do not prey upon the people with fraudulent transactions in what amounted to nothing more than robbery.  They believed in oversight because they understood the nature of man.  America, through her rich history, served as the perfect laboratory in which to study human behavior. The Founders understood the extent to which humans will go in order to take advantage of one another and over the years regulations and laws were put in place to measure the deficiencies, we are after all a society and without rules we don’t have a society.  Democrats fought to protect citizens from the very same issues we are struggling with today like predatory lending and abuse by corporations, low wages and substandard education. They understood and respected our relationship with nature and knowing we needed air to breath they protected the environment and fought to preserve land and keep forestry so we can have the beauty of green spaces and parks and you know - trees.
Then came Martin Luther King leading the fight for Civil Rights, the struggle for equal opportunity for all citizens particularly the African-Americans who was then and continues today to be blatantly discriminated against. While the national Democratic Party debated Civil Rights, in the south it was clear - no debate. Rank and file southern Democrats were mostly white, mostly males most of them overtly racists.  It was the Democrats who passed the Jim Crow laws and implemented racial segregation.

Blacks had a history of difficulty registering in the south, the Democrats allowed blacks to register as long as they registered and vote the democratic ticket.  To ensure this bands of white males showed up on voting day near polling sites with rifles. After boycotts and bombings, marching and screaming Congress finally passed and President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and with this Democrats secured the black votes. The legislation was signed into law by a Democratic President, but it was also necessary because of the southern democrats. Somehow the establishment  understood one could lose the white male vote in the south, and successfully contest the presidency.  It was a win-win for the Democrats.  The donkeys have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to control and power and ideologically they did have the upper hand.  Even though they still practiced blatant discrimination against African-Americans by passing the Civil Rights Act they cemented their reputation of being a progressive party.  
To avoid forfeiting the southern white vote, overtly racist Democrats switched to the Republican Party and began the first persuasive control over important internal members of the Republican Party. (The Tea Party would be the second group to have done similar.) They began to employ the same strategies they used in the Democratic Party, gaining control of state and local legislatures morphing into the Republican party that we see today. Icon of the Republican Party Reagan was a Democrat and he switched to Republican.   
By 1970 Martin Luther King was dead, leaving a void in the movement. The hearts of  poor, black communities he was fighting for were once again ignored by politicians, business developers, and eventually activists and organizers.  The tradition of segregation continued starving black communities of good education and decent jobs, exploiting African-American bodies for cheap labor, ensuring their status in poverty by denying business loans and mortgages and terrorizing them with violence, practices not exclusive to the south.
Out of the civil rights movement came a new wave of black political leaders from the south elected to Congress, but oddly there has yet to be a black Democratic U.S. Senator from the South.  There are two black Senators, Booker from New Jersey and Tim Scott from South Carolina who was first appointed by Republican Governor Haley. He became the first elected black Senator from the south after the Civil Rights Movement and he is a Republican.  How did that happen?   We’ve had quite a few African-Americans elected to the house, but more often they have no influence in setting the agenda.
It was the Democrats, Bill and Hillary Clinton, who legislated in response to the stereotype of “super-predators” and “lazy blacks on welfare”.  Even though Hillary now says it was a poor choice of words, she has not formally apologized to the black community, nor has she ever opened the national dialogue she acknowledged in her “super-predator” comment, the question of how did they end up that way?  Instead, Hillary and Bill went on to champion massive welfare reform, a move that only ensured they did end up that way.  The Clinton welfare reform policy fed into the super-predator theory and subsequently the for-profit prison industrial complex. Hillary in the past said those policies were a success and it was not until things began heating up in her coronation campaign did she acknowledge that maybe they weren’t so good. However, she continues to tout the Clinton years as good years, but not for the people locked up and forced into labor camps, or the lives ruined for petty crimes like possession of marijuana.  The Clintons did nothing to curb discrimination against blacks in lending, in the workplace, in housing or the justice system.  Extreme poverty grew, the poor got poorer; it didn’t get better.  Instead, Hillary and Bill made sure they stayed poor.  Tools to assist in lifting themselves out of poverty were taken away and they were forced into the slave labor through prison camps or welfare to work program requirements, where in order to receive benefits you now had to work for what amounts to a starvation wage.  Some did find jobs, but for companies like Wal-Mart, whose board Mrs. Clinton sat on, Wal-Mart being the biggest corporate welfare recipient in the country.
To briefly discuss reparations, it is true that the modern white American did not have a direct hand in the brutality of slavery, but they are the beneficiaries of it and many continue the practices of discrimination. They are apathetic to the black experience and claims of systemic racism because the current model of institutionalized racism works for them.  In providing healthcare for all, tuition-free education, a food and income safety net until one can get on their feet, guaranteeing a decent minimum wage-through these things granted equally without discrimination - I think all of America is repaired. However, Bill and Hillary took away the safety net.
The Clintons didn’t bring development to impoverished communities, schools didn’t improve in poor African-American communities or other low-income neighborhoods, and it was during the Clinton years we began to see schools in  those communities being stripped of things like music, physical education, art, typing, computer education, shop classes, and so forth.  We began to see the closing of public schools and the foundation laid for charter schools. It was they who pushed the idea of public school “choice” and the concept of charter schools.  Instead of strengthening and reforming public schools and making them more equitable, low-income children were faced with the additional challenge of competing to get into decent schools now by a lottery system.  Charter schools began to push out public schools taking over space in public school buildings.  Take a moment to Google “The Lottery” documentary if you haven't seen it yet.   Imagine being that child and mother hoping to hit the lottery, this is what the Clintons gave to the black community as education reform.  
Hillary’s current position on higher education is no better.  Hillary says she is against tuition-free education because she doesn’t want Donald Trump’s children to get a free education, ignoring the fact that Donald Trump’s children are going to get an education regardless, likely from a private university.  By denying tuition-free education from Donald Trump’s children she is also denying it from the very people she claims to want to help and who need it.  Besides, why can’t Donald Trump’s children go to public colleges for free? Having them there, we hope, would raise the level of excellence at the school.   Rich people in Hollywood send their children to public schools.  Why deny millions of children who can’t afford college a tuition-free education just to stop Donald Trump’s children.  Maybe more rich children going to public schools will encourage family to leave an endowment to the school. Wouldn’t a big million-dollar endowment make up for any foregone tuition costs?  Why be so adamant and block a possible revenue stream from public colleges by saying you don’t want rich kids to get a free public college education, and this is coming from Hillary, someone who never attended a public college.    
Anyway, back to the issue, if the Clintons were so good why did they capitulate to conservative ideals?  Why did all of their negative policies disproportionately affect blacks?  Coincidence? It’s pretty simple, the Clintons are southern conservative Democrats and in the south conservative means the same for Democrats as it does for Republicans.  Long after joining the Democratic Party and serving in the White House, Hillary said she was raised with Conservative Roots and is very proud of it.  These conservative roots are borne out in her policy positions and interactions with the black community.
In 2008 Hillary Clinton in a statement about Rev. Wright said he would not have been her preacher, but why wouldn’t he have been her pastor or friend?  Rev. Wright, was President Obama’s pastor, had a very large and progressive following and is a community organizer, he is a decorated veteran, and highly respected within the African-American community. Hillary played the race card in 2008 using him as a prop against President Obama tarnishing the legacy of Rev. Wright and all the good work he was doing on the ground.  Hillary has come before the black community and general American public time and time again to ask forgiveness for the errors she made that so deeply affected Americans in the most negative way but she offered no forgiveness for the mere words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  He was marginalized and silenced while Hillary went on with life.  After, we saw the rhetoric of the Tea Party  which was accepted as regular political discourse, but Jeremiah Wright remains banished.  
She recently said the Donald on the campaign trail is not the Donald Trump she knew, so I will assume she knows him well.   She must know that he took an advert asking for the death of the Central Park Five and if he had gotten his wish they very well could have been executed, later found wrongfully convicted.   She must know about the accusations of discrimination at his hotels, residences, and golf courses, that he swindled thousands through a for-profit university scam, that his goods are manufactured in china, and is rumored to pay no taxes, something he previously bragged about.  So which Trump is she talking about? She once wrote about a proverb “it takes a village” but she reminds me of another saying, “birds of a feather”.   
When Hillary Clinton surrounds herself with people like Clyburn and Lewis, no disrespect to them but she is saying these are the people I choose to speak on behalf of the African-American community.  These are the voices we should listen to because they speak for her and so long as those voices are in support of her they are allowed to continue speaking, so shouldn’t the African-Americans sitting in the establishment be held accountable too? Shouldn’t they be examined as well? Shouldn’t we question if and how big money and cronyism play a role in their political career.  How have they impacted or helped to shape the agenda on Capitol Hill?  Mrs. Clinton was quick to distance herself from an imaginary relationship with  Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but she embraced the George W. Bush Administration until she was against them (which happened to coincide with her run for the presidency).  
In her 2008 campaign she did not address any issues relating to the African-American community, there was no plank in her platform agenda that spoke directly to African-Americans instead she pandered to what she called “hard-working white Americans” and her strategy against Obama was to paint him as un-American, a muslim, or the other.  It was to chastise and ridicule the proud African-Americans of Trinity United church, President Obama’s church and all churches like it.  This was 2008, less than ten years ago.  The Obama presidency has been plagued by the residue of the Clinton smear campaign.
Mrs. Clinton did not become president and ended her campaign in June owing massive debts. She became Secretary of State (SOS), I won’t talk about how that happened but I suspect a reward for not challenging President Obama during the Democratic Convention.  As SOS she went on to advocate for disastrous policies in Libya and Syria.  When advice was given to her through channels like the generals and advisors from the Pentagon, she chose to take information from her friend Sidney Blumenthal, she gave more weight to Sidney Blumenthal’s advice and routinely pushed it up the chain.  The generals advised her not to enter Libya because it was volatile and uncontrollable, every other allied force pulled out of Libya-she said these allies were her motivation to enter Libya. They had requested help from the US- when these countries pulled out she chose to stay on the ground.  She said Ambassador Stevens wanted to stay and she let him because he was passionate about the work but he also repeatedly asked for more security and she was the Secretary of State and he was her responsibility.  When Ambassador Stevens said he wanted to stay even though all other countries had pulled out she listened and let him stay, but when Ambassador Stevens asked for more security even after he was faced with a situation of no allies on the ground she didn’t listen and left that up to the so-called bureaucrat “appointees” the same folks like the generals who told her not to enter Libya.  When Ambassador Stevens asked for more security, she didn’t oblige and she didn’t try to push it up the chain.  She was his lifeline and when he reached out for help, she ignored him and it ended with his death.  
Look at the voluminous stack of emails where she corresponded with Ambassador Stevens when she was trying to convince him to accept the posting in Libya. See how many times she corresponded with him afterwards and how many times he asked for extra security making what is reported  about 600 requests.  This is not over a long period of time, Ambassador Stevens took the post around May of 2012 by September 2012 he was dead.  
If within nine months someone makes 200 requests for security and you know they are in a dangerous place like Libya when do you think maybe it’s urgent, about 400? When she was trying to get Chris to accept the assignment in Libya she wooed him almost daily by email, but when he was Ambassador Stevens on the ground in extremely dangerous Libya , guess what Hillary said?  The majority of these requests did not even make it to her desk. When the ambassadors go to their assignments, they fall into a chain of command, and Hillary believes that didn’t include her.   Libya wasn’t on her radar after she dropped Stevens off, she never made any inquiries or asked any questions about the security status of the Ambassador even though she knew he was in Libya and not the caribbean or Sweden.  The few requests that did make it to her desk (83 out of 600) didn’t get pushed up the chain.  So after she advocated for the policy in Libya even though the generals advised against it and she was responsible for Ambassador Stevens, he was left to fight through the bureaucracy on his own from Libya.  Her Libya policy helped to create the situation on the ground that put him in jeopardy and then she abandoned him. This was her 3am phone call, and I think she failed it.
Juxtapose that to what you’ve seen during this campaign season.  Juxtapose the woman who went to china and advocated “women’s right as human rights” and the one who advocates bombing places like Libya and Syria but never speaks a word about Saudi Arabia or the injustice happening here in America.  She is the one who voted for the war in Iraq, the woman that has played a major role in destabilizing the middle east leading to the great migration of women and children fleeing bombs, bracing the mighty seas, some drowning in her waters, vacating their homes in an attempt to survive Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy plans.  
Her emails and her personal server show she was not loyal to the Obama Administration nor does she play by the rules.  The Obama Administration issued a directive asking all personnel refrain from using personal emails for government business and to use the .gov email. Hillary knew this and disseminated the information to her State Department staff but ignored the directive herself.   She set up a server in her home and proceeded to only use not just her personal email but her and Bill’s personal server.  How is that being loyal to the administration? A personal server – NOT EVEN THE REPUBLICANS DID THAT.  Hillary is clearly a person who thinks she is above not just the rules, but everyone else.  The rules said no personal email and it didn’t say don't use a personal server, but I think it is safe to assume she would have ignored that too.    
Ignoring the Obama directive doesn’t exemplify someone who plays by or even cares about the rules.  Following the directive issued by the Obama Administration on the emails would have been playing by the rules, and on something as simple as that she chose to thumb her nose at the Obama Administration.  Hillary comes again asking that she be allowed to play by different rules and held to different standards.  
So with Crime Bill, Welfare Reform, Iraq War, her tactics during the 2008 campaign, her blunders in Libya and Syria, the emails, the server, accepting money from for-profit prisons, her flip-flopping, Bill’s history, investigation of the Clinton Foundation, and paid speeches to Wall Street, with all of this she comes before the American people asking to be given the presidency.  The American people are to believe this she is going to get right.  Time and time again Hillary has followed her own rules and pushed her own ideas ignoring more experienced and educated voices and her decisions reflecting nothing more than political power grabbing.
Remember during 2008 primary season when “someone” leaked then Senator Obama’s speech to donors where he said some in the south and Appalachia were “clinging to their bibles and guns”.  Not even Obama was able to be elected without the people having the curtain pulled back and reveal what he said behind closed doors to his moneyed donors, so why does Hillary get a pass?  Especially since she is running to be the representative who will carry on Obama’s legacy, where is the transparency and where is her leadership? Leaders- LEAD.  
Hillary now says her getting money from Wall Street won’t impact her and cloaks herself in President Obama as an example to validate this, stating “it didn’t impact Obama and his ability to reign in Wall Street”, but I beg to differ.  I happen to think the huge sums of money that Obama raised from Wall Street for both his campaigns did impact how he managed Wall Street, that’s why none of them are in jail.  That’s why they are allowed to pay a fine and go back to business with watered down regulations of Dodd-Frank and not the original Glass-Steagall.  This doesn’t mean I hate Obama, I do  support his actions on many issues, but this is one I am disappointed about.  He let them off the hook with a fine after they engaged in illegal activity. He may be a little compromised, but he is not alone, there was no real effort from either side to prosecute Wall Street.  Wouldn’t you love to do something so egregious and walk away with just a fine? That is what their money paid for and they remain players in Washington DC shaping the policies that affect average Americans. Shouldn’t we want to work to change it? Hillary’s argument of, Obama wasn’t affected by taking the money from Wall Street therefore I am not affected and only the republicans are influenced by big money doesn’t hold water. Hillary says big money is okay as long as it is going to her and The Democratic Party not Republicans because they are bought and paid for by big money. Doesn’t that sound strange, is that democracy?  Again, Hillary is asking to play by different rules and different standards. And now she is asking to be allowed to clean up the messes she’s made, doesn’t that sound kind of like a Republican? There is only one candidate who continues to talk about taking on the corrupt campaign finance system. I will let you figure out who.
I have often wondered why no southern Democrat has been elected to the Senate, a statewide congressional seat.  Why if after Reconstruction African-Americans through the Republican Party were able to get elected to Senate seats in the south, why then after so many years of locking arms with this new Democratic Party aren’t they able to work with these southern Democrats and gain a Senate seat in the south. Could it be because blacks have been relegated to “their lane”.
Watching these elections I see only one candidate who built their platform on the original intentions of the Democratic Party, the concept of social liberalism, a candidate who was a student of the civil rights movement who embraced Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy, that’s Bernie Sanders.
Is being a Democrat just about brand loyalty or is it loyalty to an IDEA? Donald Trump says if we don’t have a wall we don’t have a country. Well, if you don’t have a philosophy you don’t really have a political party. So is the Democratic Party a southern conservative party or one that fights for the ideals of Social Liberalism. Is it about perpetual war on people of color in America and around the globe or is it about creating a more peaceful and sustainable future for our children and their children.  
Now, I know when it comes to Bernie Sanders there is a big elephant in the room.  It’s obvious - he is Jewish. How many white men have been president of this country and how many of them Jewish?  Like women and people of color, the Presidency seemed to have been out of their reach. Let’s face it being Jewish in America is kind of a mixed bag. Some are taught not to trust Jewish people all together, first there is the bible thing, then there is the Israeli/Palestinian thing.  Many people admired Jewish Americans for their tenacity and business prowess, and many are more comfortable viewing the Jewish Community in “stereotypes”.
We don’t naturally think of Jewish Americans when we talk of civil rights and social activism and sometimes must be reminded Jewish-Americans played crucial roles partnering with African-Americans during the civil rights movement, fighting for fair housing, organizing workers, helping to establish unions, building institutions like the NAACP, and donating huge sums to organizations like the United Negro College Fund.  So the relationship between African Americans and the Jewish community is a long and some might say complicated one.   
Bernie Sanders is a leftover from a movement fraught with violence and executions. He watched this movement fracture and crumble around him. Being the son of immigrants from a small family in Brooklyn, he didn’t have generational ties or political connections to catapult into politics and get appointed to Commissions. He didn’t personally benefit from his involvement in the movement and although Bernie had a privilege blacks did not he never tried to capitalize on it. He wasn’t a brilliant black man or an accomplished white woman, he was just an average white male and in a world of white males he might have found it difficult to stand out. He didn’t take anything for granted because he had nothing to take for granted.   He simply retreated to a space away from the frustrations of political revolution, trying to seek the comforts of normal life, but even in that space he couldn’t help being a revolutionary.  
Did he take the route of political expediency just signing up with one of the major parties and tout the party line?  No, instead he stuck to the ideals that drove him to organize with SNCC and CORE and his participation in Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington. He stuck to the principles of democratic socialism describing himself as a democratic socialist - not very popular, but I suspect for him he had to at least try to walk the walk, finding ways to do what work he could where he could, propelled not by ambition, but by conviction, by principles, and most of all by the people.  He conquered Burlington and then Vermont gaining a seat in the US Congress, first the House and then Senate. There,  Sanders began to speak to the power-structure championing the message of Martin Luther King Jr., the message of democratic socialism.  
Shortly after he was elected to Congress, Bill and Hillary arrived with what they called a “New Democrat” agenda.   While the Clintons were echoing southern conservatism, Bernie Sanders echoed Martin Luther King Jr. and spoke of social justice and economic equality.  As the only independent voice, Bernie was then and is now fighting an entrenched status quo. Somehow he maintained his voice but caucused with the Democratic Party, and that was fine for Democrats because they could rely on his vote, but now those same Democrats paint him as other, wacky, crazy, and other.  
When Trump is played 24 hours on the major cable networks and Bernie barely gets a mention, I have to wonder why, could it be someone wants to keep you dreaming?  Bernie is asking Americans to muster the courage and challenge the Status Quo as they did with electing President Obama.  He is demanding that the Platform of the Democratic Party embody the ideals and principles upon which it was founded. Sure Bernie could speak more emotionally, but because he doesn’t does not mean he cannot understand or sympathize with the plight of the African-American and other everyday Americans.
So I am just wondering how and when did the Democrats, a party founded on Social Liberalism fighting for Universal Health Care, economic equality, and social justice reject those ideals and morph into one that doesn’t push the envelope, one that says quit fighting, it’s too hard, that it is sufficient to just go along to get along, even though it's wrong.  Since when did the Democratic Party become a party that believes in right-leaning, southern conservatism and is this the election that will be a referendum on the new ideology of this New Democratic Party?
Bernie Sanders has put his body on the line for African-Americans and has spoken up on our behalf many times; on the crime bill, welfare reform, the drug wars, the Iraq war, environmental sustainability, militarized policing, education, employment, and universal healthcare. When did Hillary ever try to help black people and it wasn’t convenient or beneficial to her candidacy?
I loved watching the youth of South Africa cast off the regime of apartheid, it must have seemed almost too big, too pie-in-the-sky, especially with Mandela in jail for over twenty years, but they did it.  Just as they in the Middle East must be the ones to ultimately determine their destiny, so should be the case for African-Americans. It is a hard road but nothing worth fighting for is easy. Just by the fight it will be hard but not impossible.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog. I'm always both interested and informed when I read here. Thanks from "Sir Roger".