The Agonist Endorses Clinton’s Experience Over Sanders’ Promises

democrat-logoWe had high hopes for Bernie, the Occupy candidate. He brought new topics to the stage like wealth disparity, rent-seeking banksters and the corruption of politics through massive anonymous donations. He became the figurehead that leftie protesters had been missing and a rallying point for an otherwise disorganized anti-establishment movement.

But Sanders lacks the coalition building skills Clinton has demonstrated over the years. His only major piece of passed legislation required multiple runs and the eventual co-sponsorship of Republican war hero John McCain. He has bolstered his campaign by submitting lofty bills and posting Facebook memes, but none have passed. His foreign policy perspectives are naive; he knows few leaders even by name, and less about their complex agendas and alliances.

Clinton has served in an impressive number of roles, from First Lady to Senator to Secretary of State, and been effective in each job. Internationally, she was a key player in the successful Iran sanctions, bringing China into the Paris climate treaty, negotiating down Russia’s nuclear arsenal, nurturing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and rebuilding ties with Europe and other nations damaged by Bush era unilateralism. She’s a vocal proponent of women’s rights, children’s rights and basic human rights on the most resistant international stages like China and Russia and Uganda.

Domestically, she’s been a champion for health care — especially for children — for decades, contrary to current insinuations. She was instrumental in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Her work with the State Department has earned her continued praise from Sanders’ fellow Senator from Vermont.

Many of us would like to see Bernie’s “political revolution” but it’s not in the cards. Without sweeping changes to Congress next election he is in a position to accomplish less than Obama in his worst years dealing with Republican obstructionism. His plans don’t stand up to economic scrutiny, and they don’t take into account how markets will react to his policies. From health care to education to jobs, he is promising a chicken in every pot with no idea where to get the eggs. His posted “plan to pay for all this” is riddled with holes. His rhetoric is jingoistic, populist, and laced with toxic identity politics. Banks are evil, rich people are evil, every person deserves X, Y and Z.

If his revolution did occur, a Democratic Congress wouldn’t need him; any liberal stuffed shirt with a pen would do.

Hillary doesn’t promise the moon. Her platform includes realistic goals like appointing Supreme Court justices in favor of overturning Citizens United and forcing political contribution disclosures; her health, college and job proposals don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, nor require a trillion dollars minted from thin air. There’s overlap between her stated goals and Bernie’s, but she puts forth a progressive agenda that can be pursued even without a brand new Congress, and has demonstrated her ability to bring opponents together for the common good.

For these reasons and more, we reluctantly notch down our expectations of Sanders and endorse Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee and the next President of the United States.

A saddening facet of this election is how much Sanders supporters play into Republican hands, denigrating Clinton at every opportunity. Benghazi, email servers, the other hogwash. It’s my personal hope that they don’t torpedo her hard-earned credibility to the extent Trump wins the general election.

Previously: steeleweed’s Populism for the coming darkness

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jay

Jay is Editor In Chief of The Agonist, veteran and technologist.

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  • Counterpoint from CounterPunch…,
    via John V. Walsh in his review of Diana Johnstone’s new book, Queen of Chaos.

    Queen is not a gossipy bio, delineating Hillary’s shallow, belligerent, mendacious, psychopathic character, although such a tome, necessarily massive, would be welcome. These characteristics of Hillary’s necessarily emerge to some degree in Queen of Chaos, but personality portrayal is not the core of the book. Rather the book is historical. Johnstone sees Clinton as both a product of her times – privileged child of the U.S. Empire, white, Wellesley, Yale, a dishonest and ultimately fired operative on the Watergate committee right out of law school – as well as a ruthless actor in a global drama growing ever more deadly. The book is more history than Hillary. But by going this route Johnstone grasps the essential Clinton with crystal clarity.

    As for my own point of view…, to say that I am bitterly disappointed to hear that “we” are endorsing Hillary…, is severely understating it.

      • Thanks for the link, however I do not believe Hillary will bring on Armageddon. The piece is so anti Hillary it takes away from it’s credibility. I am however not in any way trying to candy coat Hillary by questioning the author’s intentions.

    • I find both the article and the book hyperbolic, paranoid, self-serving, and chock full of identity politics. They seem to have both chosen narrow slants that favor melodrama over objective historical perspective.

      And what a coincidence this CounterPunch writer has such a glowing review of a book by another CounterPunch writer, who seems to have tried to break into things by arguing there was no genocide in Bosnia and that Marine Le Pen isn’t racist.

      Somebody just wants to sell books. The key there is writing something worth reading.

      • Well…, I Am Not Surprised…,
        as you seem to be Jay…, that a publisher of books might want to sell some books. And I haven’t read Johnstone’s book…, I am surprised that you have…, so I can’t comment on it. But I have read quite a bit about Hillary…, and Cockburn and St. Claire haven’t written any books about her that they were trying to sell.

        The Clinton Files: Is Hillary a Crook?

        From 1993 to 2001, Alexander Cockburn and I wrote dozens of articles on the political corruption of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their cronies in DC and Arkansas. In many ways, those years represented the golden age of political journalism, with a fresh scandal ripening each month. As Hillary cruises toward the Democratic nomination, if not the White House, it’s time to dig into the Clinton Files and resurrect the stories of sleaze, malfeasance and transgression from that feculent decade. — JSC

        In the spring of 1996, Hillary Clinton faced a situation unique in American history: the possible criminal indictment of a president’s wife. For two years a federal grand jury had been sitting in Little Rock, Arkansas, reviewing the Clintons’ financial dealings from 1978 through 1992. The episodes submitted to their scrutiny by independent counsel Kenneth Starr included the Clintons’ involvement in the Whitewater Development Corp.; HRC’s legal representation of James McDougal’s failing Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan; Madison’s possible financing of Clinton campaigns; HRC’s role in illegal real estate transactions in the Castle Grande development; the Clintons’ fraudulent financial statements submitted in loan applications in the 1980s; and more generally, the political cronyism and favoritism the Clintons took part in during their sojourn in the governor’s mansion in Little Rock.

        Meanwhile, a separate federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. listened to Starr’s presentation of other episodes, including: “Travelgate”; the removal of Whitewater documents from Vince Foster’s office; and the reappearance of HRC’s billing records involving her work on the Castle Grande project while at the Rose law firm. HRC had previously testified under oath in a federal investigation by the Resolution Trust Corporation that she had nothing to do with Castle Grande.

        I could provide you with links to the other articles…, but if the words…,

        We came, we saw, he died.

        …, aren’t enough to convince you that she is far, far, from being, “The best of the current pack.”…., well…, I guess there just aren’t enough words from me or a whole stable of CounterPunch writers that will do the trick.

  • There is nothing in Clinton’s background that says she is interested in or capable of standing up to the oligarchs who fund her campaign. The business and political system which serves the interests only of corporations and wealthy donors has been in place since Reagan and is not going to change in any fundamental way under Clinton. Bernie Sanders is right to talk about the need for revolutionary change in politics, and while it is also correct to say he might not have a Congress to support him, Clinton certainly wouldn’t either because she is campaigning only for herself, not for any systemic change. If the system is going to be saved, you have to start somewhere. Otherwise America will continue on its path to becoming a high-performing third world country.

  • Somehow, the assurance that a candidate has not promoted the majority agenda on very many bills over the past 30 years does not make me less likely to support him. I’d like a politician who can get the things done that I want done. However, I’d rather have one that doesn’t get anything done than one who gets things done that I don’t want. In the meantime, I want to see push-back against the bad.

    All the serious people have assured me for the past 30 years that absolutely the best we can do is to hope for someone who may keep things from getting worse too fast. Realistically, that’s the best. We are helpless. There’s nothing that can be done otherwise. Advocating better is to be, in the Democratic White House Chief of Staff’s words, a “fucking retard”. OK, I’m a fucking retard. I want public figures who will try to lead Americans towards a better nation.

    If you can point out how the public policies that Sanders has supported throughout his public life are bad for the country and the ones that Clinton has supported are good for the country, I will consider the arguments. But I am not fond of this whole undemocratic “Not only must we quit trying to enact policies that most Americans want, we must repeat over and over again that Americans are silly to expect us to try.”

  • How utterly sad. The Agonist has affirmed the last 8 years of murder, torture, rendition, racism, and international lawlessness as A-okay.
    You have utterly destroyed any credibility as a progressive blog; rather a totally mainstream rag of no distinction.
    I shall not be found with the likes of your ilk.

  • Maybe what we have here is a failure to define exactly what we expect our next president to accomplish. There is a tendency to talk as if a president were all-powerful, able to simply wave his/her magic want and all would be well. We know better, but we argue as if we didn’t know better.

    We (progressives) generally want to take down the Too-Big-To-Fail banks and and jail the banksters as Iceland did. To reduce CO2 and methane emissions and use our muscle to make the rest of the world do the same. To reverse Global Warming. To eliminate the power of money in politics. To stop supporting puppet governments and start really supporting human rights. To provide affordable education, healthcare and a decent social safety net. End the Silly War on a Plant, pardon a lot of people who should never have been imprisoned in the first place. Prevent and reverse privatization of what should be non-profit public enterprises (schools, prisons, hospitals, transit, infrastructure). To stop bombing innocents in order to preserve the profits of corporations and project (and protect) American power and influence abroad. To take the power of government away from the plutocrats and give it to the people (I won’t say ‘return it to the people’, since it’s questionable whether we ever had a functioning Democracy).

    Basically, to stop trying to rule the world for the benefit of The Few and at the expense of The Many.

    Guess what? Ain’t gonna happen, no matter who’s in the White House.

    To get what we want would require a complete destruction of the existing economic, political and social order, since it’s all tied up together now.

    What would I like to see from the occupant of the White House?
    The replacement of the American Dream with a different American Narrative, a new definition of who we are and what we’re about, based on something more human than just cheap gadgets and a powerful military. Wouldn’t it be nice if the next presidency were remembered as the time when people started caring about and helping others instead of hating and fearing others; a time when we settled for our share of the world instead of the lion’s share; a time when we showed as much respect for life as we do for our ability to kill a wedding party in Afghanistan from thousands of miles away.

    If a president can’t solve our problems, what can he/she do? If all they can do is continue doing what obviously doesn’t work, why bother? I’d rather have someone trying to create a better world and failing than have someone who succeeds in propping up a defective status quo because that’s all they know how to do and can envision.

    I want to see America grow up. And I want a president who can enunciate a humane, adult, reasonable, sane worldview and promote it, at home and abroad. Perhaps it will resonate with enough young people that the next generation can take the first steps toward building a better world, even though I won’t be around to see it.

    • First we’d need to nurture a generation that cared about humane, adult, reasonable, sane worldviews from their representatives. Many of our problems are bottom-up; we reap what we sow. A segment of society apparently cares more about stopping abortion than fixing the economy, more about keeping money out of immigrant hands than feeding their neighbors. We can either install a benevolent dictator or resign ourselves to the fact that democracy is going to give us substandard results. At best, we compromise, at worst it’s a tyranny of a misinformed majority.

      •   You are quite correct. It is a bottom-up problem. The question is how do we inculcate the necessary values in the next generation(s).

          Most of our media trumpets the wrong values; most celebrities extol the wrong values; most political leaders promise the wrong values; many ‘religious’ leaders teach the wrong values; schools have been corrupted into teaching careersism instead of values and knowledge.

          We are inundated from all angles by wrong values; often more by implication than directly. Nobody says “Your new IPad is worth more than a human life” but they spend as much effort concealing the hidden human cost of technology as they do convincing us we need the latest gadget. The guy in the McMansion ridicules the off-gridder trying to lower his carbon footprint. The governor of Michigan imposed financial austerity without concern for the consequences.

          Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station put it very succinctly when he remarked vis-a-vis better government::
        When you have government of the people, by the people and for the people, you need a better class of people.

          If the media, the religions, the schools, the opinion-makers do not teach truth and humanity, who is left to teach it? The White House is at least a bully pulpit.

      • I think you’re giving a good demonstration of learned helplessness, culminating in the choice between a benevolent dictator and resignation to substandard results from democracy.

        We live in a propaganda state. We are social animals, so we are susceptible to the words and attitudes of our fellows, and this allows a lot of social malleability. Conservatives and authoritarians have done very well, especially since the Powell memo which laid out the need for pro-business consistent, multi-purposed indoctrination. Obviously, I object to becoming their messaging helpers. The right says, for example, that we can’t have universal access to health care. Self-styled realists jump in to support them. “It would be nice, but . . . .” And advocating genuine democratic communitarian policies? Silly!!! We must never seriously support a liberal politician who makes our case. He’s “promising the moon.” That helps assure the people that they should not seek liberal policies, because they just can’t have them.

        People carrying on with their lives are not going to spontaneously start agreeing with us. Whether it’s Congresspeople or those who would constitute “bottom up” change, they won’t take us seriously until we articulate goals and show that our advocates can take positions in government. And it’s an ongoing, long term process.

  • While both Clinton and Change begin with a C, I do believe Clinton and Change cannot coexist in the same sentence. Triangles have points, and I felt the points in the ’90s.

    Killing TPP would be a high priority. Bernie probably would kill it, Clinton probably not.

    She’s bought. Bernie appears not bought, as does Trump. If Bernie can deliver on 20% of his platform it would amount to huge change

    I’d vote Trump before Clinton.

  • My vote goes to Bernie. Like Synoia says ‘if he just gets 20% of what he says done, I’ll be happy’. Besides, I’m not into ‘Monarchy’ .Will not vote Clinton for the same reasons my conservative friends will not vote for Jeb. We don’t need well connected ‘Royal Families’ in the White House.

  • I will vote for Bernie. I will with hold judgment on Hillary. My guts tell me she is not the right candidate for the next generation everyone keeps referring to. What the next generation needs is not another round of failure. When people laugh at the Republican clown car today, they forget how effective they will be when taking on Clinton. Her remaining character will be totally assassinated. She is being given a pass right now.

    And I’d prefer to be called liberal than progressive any day.

    As for Donald, my wife blurted out his name the other day like this: “Donald’s Rump”. Fitting.

  • How Hillary is Already Complicit with the Next Subprime Real Estate Bubble

    Medium, By Holly Wood, January 24

    I turned on the news to watch Bernie Sanders give a one-on-one with some idiot anchor this morning. She tried to put Bernie Sanders on the spot for something the Blackstone CEO said at Davos to a Wall Street Journal reporter, framing it as “middle-class families are scared!” Bernie smiled.

    Why? Because it’s bullshit. He sees right through this bullshit.

    Blackstone is to 2016 what Goldman Sachs was to 2007. Besides investing in SeaWorld, which we all know is fucking evil now, Blackstone is also setting America up for another real estate bubble.

    Laura Gottesdiener reported in 2014:

    Over the last two years, private equity firms and hedge funds have amassed an unprecedented real estate empire, snapping up Spanish revivals in Phoenix, adobes in Los Angeles, Queen Anne Victorians in Atlanta, and brick-faced bungalows in Chicago. In total, Wall Street investors have bought more than 200,000 cheap, mostly foreclosed houses in some of the cities hardest hit by the economic meltdown. But they’re not simply flipping these houses. Instead, they’ve started bundling some of them into a new kind of financial product that could blow up the housing market all over again.

    No company has bought more houses than the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. (Its many investments include Hilton Hotels, the Weather Channel, and SeaWorld. Among its institutional investors are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, and JPMorgan Chase.) Through its subsidiary, Invitation Homes, Blackstone has picked up houses through local brokers, at foreclosure auctions, and in bulk purchases. Last April, it bought 1,400 houses in Atlanta in a single day. In Phoenix, some neighborhoods have a Blackstone-owned home on just about every block. As of November, Blackstone had acquired 40,000 houses, most of them foreclosures, worth $7.5 billion. Today, it is the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the nation.

    […]

    It’s just like a residential mortgage-backed security,” says one hedge fund investor whose company does business with Blackstone. Yet some analysts and observers are uneasy about the idea of a new market for securitized mortgage debt backed by rent checks. Dean Baker, an economist and codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, is concerned that Wall Street firms are overlooking the risks of these untested investments. “You kind of just hope they know what they’re doing,” he says. In documents sent to investors, Blackstone has stated that it expects that 95 percent of its homes will be occupied at all times, with an average monthly rent of around $1,300. Real estate professionals say that those assumptions may be overly ambitious for single-family rentals.

  • Here’s a Thom Hartmann Piece…,
    that anyone concerned about the Sanders-Clinton race should…, I wish I could make it mandatory…, read:
    “Yes We Can” vs “No We Can’t”
    Here’s the opening…, you really should read the rest as well:

    With just one week to go before the Iowa caucuses, the media, even the so-called liberal media, is still having trouble taking Bernie Sanders seriously.

    He’s surging in both early primary states, but conventional wisdom-types are still pumping out the same boring lines about how he’s naïve and unelectable.

    “No he can’t” is STILL the mainstream media’ default take on Bernie Sanders.

    “It’s been a nice run,” the thinking goes, “but he’s just not electable. And if even if by some stroke of luck he were elected, he doesn’t understand politics enough to get things done while in the White House.”

    Right on partner…, write on.

  • It seems to me that, beyond the Benghazi and email issues to which our media seems to be transfixed, there are fairly specific arguments seriously questioning support for Hillary, among them:

    1) Her long history of close relations with Wall Street, including a) service on the Wal-Mart board as an attorney, b) implicit support for her husband’s extensive deregulation of the financial sector that played key roles in the 2008 meltdown, c) voluminous campaign funding and speaker fees from the financial sector, d) the least convincing rebuttal in recorded history to Bernie’s accusation of her support for pre-2008 speculation when she said in effect, “Well, gosh, I told them to stop issuing those dodgy mortgages.”

    2) Her disastrous neocon foreign policies in tandem with Samantha Powers and Susan Rice together replaying the three witches from Macbeth, including a) using highly deceptive claims to justify the bombing of Libya and helping to usher in not only horrific chaos but also the new headquarters of ISIS, b) choosing Robert Kagan, a major neocon, as an advisor and working with his wife, Victoria Nuland on covert operations in Ukraine that have only added to the destabilization of the region, c) supporting the progressive encirclement of Russia through NATO, d) encouraging the mobilization of anti-Assad rebels that have always been riddled with fanatical elements, e) leaning farther to the right in her support for Israel’s current government than many of her Democratic contemporaries, f) making an unforgivable comment at her first debate when asked about her prime enemy and responding that it was “the Iranians.”

    While there’s plenty more to add to the above, I acknowledge that, based on my long standing aversion to Hillary, some of my comments are strident and could be challenged. What can’t be challenged, however, is that there is plenty of evidence supporting my claims, and I have yet to see any convincing counter-evidence to refute it.

  • Links:

    Hullabaloo: Did Elizabeth Warren just quietly endorse Bernie Sanders?, By Gaius Publius

    A new presidential election is upon us. The first votes will be cast in Iowa in just eleven days. Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run this country like some private club.

    Medium: Hillary Clinton Introduces New Campaign Slogan: “No, We Can’t”, By Holly Wood

    Hillary Clinton is precisely the kind of obstacle that stands between us and solving a human crisis. She stands on stages with signs that say “Fighting for Us” when we know she’s fighting for concessions. She’s offering us scraps. Her hands are so tied she can offer us nothing but capitulation and compromise.

    To defend her position as the arbiter of the government-finance nexus, she has to deploy neoliberal doublespeak. She has to make defeat sound like victory. She has to defend a financial plutocracy by trying to make us think it’s not standing right behind her every time she stands behind a podium and declares, “NO WE CAN’T!”

    Washington Post: Bernie Sanders is the realist we should elect, By Katrina vanden Huevel

    But this conventional wisdom clashes with the reality that this country has suffered serial devastations from choices supported by the establishment’s “responsible” candidates. On fundamental issue after issue, it is the candidate “of the heart” who is in fact grounded in common sense. It wasn’t Sanders’s emotional appeal, but his clearsightedness that led the Nation magazine, which I edit, to make only its third presidential endorsement in a primary in its 150-year history.

    Esquire: What The Washington Post (and Nearly Everyone) Gets Wrong About Bernie Sanders, By Charlie Pierce

    It seems that, over at The Washington Post, a once-great newspaper now doing business as an adjunct to the home delivery industry, Fred Hiatt’s Workshop For Ghastly Writing is getting a little run for this editorial in which Bernie Sanders is posed as the Lord Mayor Of Munchkinland. There’s nothing like the scorn of the Church Of The Savvy. To borrow a comparison from the late Molly Ivins, it’s like being gummed by a newt. Folks, leave the snark to the professionals, OK? Anyway, it seems that Fred and his minions find Sanders’ proposals to be unrealistic, an insight now shared by almost every putatively liberal pundit, as well as every gas station attendant between Des Moines and Ottumwa. Let’s look at the argument, shall we?

    NYRB: The Clinton System, By Simon Head

    The record of the Clinton System raises deep questions about whether a Hillary Clinton presidency would take on the growing political influence of large corporate interests and Wall Street banks. The next president will need to address critical economic and social issues, including the stagnating incomes of the middle class, the tax loopholes that allow hedge-funders and other members of the super-rich to be taxed at lower rates than many average Americans, and the runaway costs of higher education. Above all is the question of further reform of Wall Street and the banking system to prevent a recurrence of the behavior that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

    So far, Hillary Clinton has refused to commit herself to a reintroduction of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which Bill Clinton allowed to be repealed in 1999 on the advice of Democrats with close ties to Wall Street, including Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. The reintroduction of Glass-Steagall, favored by Bernie Sanders, would prevent banks from speculating in financial derivatives, a leading cause of the 2007-2008 crash. With leading Wall Street banks so prominent in the Clintons’ fundraising streams, can Hillary Clinton be relied upon to reform the banks beyond the modest achievements of the Dodd-Frank bill of 2010?

    Village Voice: Feeling the Yern: Why One Millennial Woman Would Rather Go to Hell Than Vote for Hillary

    There seems to be no shortage of bizarrely sexist assumptions as to why I, a Millennial feminist, am not voting for Hillary Clinton. But speaking as a Millennial feminist, let me assure you: None of them is accurate. Granted, the span of my political biography is only as long as it took Howard Dean to go from human rights crusader to insurance lobbyist. But the reason for my political disaffection is plain: I’ve spent my entire Millennial life watching the Democratic Party claw its way up the ass of corporate America. There’s no persuading me that the Democratic establishment — from where it sits now — has the capacity to represent me, or my values.

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