Friday, July 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton Accepts Nomination & Acceptance Speech While Offering Nothing New

Hillary Clinton accepted the presidential nomination in front of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last night.

As I understand it, she mentioned Donald Trump's name somewhere between 21 to 22 times during her speech, basically attacking his temperament, and suggesting that someone as hotheaded and prone to overreact as he is does not belong in the White House.

True enough, although I am a personally also  more than a little skeptical about more established politicians like Hillary Clinton, with their personal ties to "too big to fail" Wall Street banks and corporations, as well as defense contractors. This serves as a major conflict of interest that the allegedly liberal media continually chooses to ignore. Already, some have voiced concern that feminine Hillary Clinton tends to be more hawkish than President Obama.

The last thing that we need is a female version of Dick Cheney running the White House. Indeed, she has the kind of personal ties and links that were not uncommon with Washington insiders in the Bush administration, particularly George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Does that sound like a crazy idea? Well, it's not that preposterous. And just in case you still have doubts, keep in mind that your friend and mine, Dick Cheney, "heaped praise" on Hillary Clinton in 2011, although he will support Donald Trump in this race. Former First Lady Laura Bush, however, insinuated outright that she will support Clinton for the White House. Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York City, gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, so obviously she has his endorsement, as well. And a number of Republicans who seemed doubtful about Donald Trump have at least flirted with the idea of voting for Hillary Clinton.

That is not entirely surprising, because frankly, I believe that Hillary Clinton would be the ideal Republican candidate. When you look at her stances on the issues, however, she is not in league with where a lot of the traditional Democrats were politically. Think of the New Deal programs of FDR, the New Frontier programs of JFK, the Great Society programs of LBJ, or the vision of a better America forwarded by Jimmy Carter, and you will find Hillary Clinton opposed to many of them. Indeed, Hillary Clinton is not only to the right of all of those prominent Democratic presidents of decades ago, but so is Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Each of those candidates is, frankly, alarmingly conservative for the so-called mainstream progressive party, which is why it has been exposed as a glaring failure - a poor excuse to the extremely pro-corporate agenda set forth by the modern Republican party.

Of course, if you listen to a lot of mainstream Democrats, they will be quick to point out that this year's Democratic platform is the most progressive in our lifetimes.

Well, that may be so. But given Hillary's rather extensive history of doing the typical Clinton thing, which is to say one thing during the campaign, and do another thing entirely once actually in office, how much of that platform can we feel she will deliver on?

I, for one, believe that she will pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). She might alter it a bit, but the most damaging and damning aspects of it will likely remain intact. She might seem to lean towards reversing Citizens United now, but how much can we believe that, given that the vast majority of her campaign donations during the primary season came from "too big to fail" Wall Streets banks and mega corporations? How much can we trust her when she insinuates that Donald Trump is too hotheaded to have access to all the weaponry of the United States military, while she herself had close personal ties to weapons contractors, much like the Bush regime and Dick Cheney had some years ago? Let us also remember that, when push came to shove, she voted in favor of empowering George W. Bush to go ahead and invade Iraq. She also voted for the PATRIOT Act and for the bailout. Despite her stated opposition to George W. Bush, she sure agreed with him an awful lot. How much can we trust that she speaks for the average American while she and her husband got rich to the point of now ranking among the 1%, and when she delivers a speech on income inequality while wearing a fashion designer suit worth well over $12,000? Can we trust her when she claims to want to trust ties with the for profit prison industry, while hardly really apologizing for being all in support of this same system that she and her husband helped to construct back in the nineties? She once was a vocal advocate for a better and fairer healthcare system for all Americans, but can we trust her now, when she has an extensive history of taking funds from her former opponents, to the point that she is now considered one of their allies?

When a whopping two-thirds of all Americans feel that they cannot trust her, that is more than mere coincidence. It is not some kind of an inexplicable fluke, or a flavor of the moment trend. After all, as her supporters are quick to point out, she has an extensive history in American politics, and so there is much from her past with which to base it. The contradictions that I pointed out in the paragraph above are only some of the most famous examples of her contradictions and general untrustworthiness, but there are more. Remember, it was the same Barack Obama who delivered a very strong speech in support of Hillary just a couple of days ago who said, back in 2008, that Hillary Clinton would say and do anything to get elected. I suspect that this more cynical analysis of Hillary is closer to the truth than what was heard on Wednesday's speech.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that we had a candidate in Bernie Sanders who really offered true progressives something more, and he actually had a chance there to win the nomination and, by extension, this election. I know that cynical Hillary supporters would scoff at this notion, but then why was it necessary for Hillary Clinton to ask Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for help? Why was it necessary for the establishment within the Democratic Party to actively campaign against and undermine Bernie Sanders, while officially claiming neutrality? Why was it necessary to maintain the closed elections, and why so much voter fraud, and all of which, not coincidentally, happened to benefit Hillary Clinton? And still, she kept losing steam. Still, towards the end, Bernie Sanders managed to catch her in approval ratings, and even take a lead briefly, just a few months ago as I write this.

Yes, Bernie had a chance. And the thing is, he really is closer to what traditional Democrats used to be. He is a throwback to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he was proposing programs that would have cut into the economic inequalities, curbing the excesses of the wealthiest Americans in favor of making sure the vast majority of Americans, most of whom are obviously not rich, can be better off. Bernie Sanders wanted to establish a single-payer healthcare system in the United States. Sanders wanted to seriously tackle environmental issues, whereas Hillary Clinton kept waffling on issues such as fracking. Sanders lambasted the high cost of living and of going to college, while not coincidentally, Hillary eventually got around to the same rhetoric only when she discovered that it would be politically profitable for her to do so.

The problem with Hillary is that, like her husband before her, she wants to be everything to everyone. She implies that she's a conservative to an audience who would appreciate it, then suggests that she's a moderate when that feels like the flavor of the moment, yet claims to be a real progressive when it proves that this is what can get her ahead. She is not a real progressive. In fact, her politics are mostly rooted in conservatism. After all, she called herself a proud Goldwater girl, right? Indeed, she might really be a step forward if she were the nominee for the Republican party, rather than the Democratic party. Now, if the general election were between her as a Republican, and Bernie Sanders as a Democrat, that would offer a real choice between a conservative, continue with politics and business as usual approach, or a real attempt at a fresh new start, and work towards changes. What bothers me is that she poses as something that she is not. In other words, she is your average, run of the mill politician, and the only thing - I emphasize her that the only thing - that sets her apart is that she is a woman. Frankly, for me, that is not enough. Maybe Hillary supporters will return to claim that people like me are sexist for not supporting her. But I would gladly support a female candidate that I believe in. Perhaps a female version of Bernie Sanders will pop up. But to me, a vote for Hillary is a vote for what we have had now for several decades, and what we have had has led to the decline of the standards of living in this country. That is what Hillary Clinton represents to me.

Indeed, the Democratic party had a chance to elect someone who could finally bring back integrity, honesty, idealism, and a sense of purpose to the party. If most Democrats were serious about being progressive, they would have flocked to Bernie Sanders, and would have laughed at the overly pragmatic approach of the consummate politician that is Hillary Clinton. If Democrats really wanted to address the issues of economic inequality, of an unfair and unjust healthcare and prison system, and of the necessity for serious action on climate change, than they would not have hesitated to elect Bernie Sanders, and by a landslide.

Instead, as a sign, as well as a reminder, of just where we are, we are getting a candidate who is getting the approval of many of the same Republicans who sided with George W. Bush for all of those years that he was in office. We're getting yet another politician that the public simply does not trust, and one with astonishingly high disapproval ratings. One who seems always to be under investigation for one thing or another, and who always seems to come out of it even better off. If she is elected president, we  very well might have yet another Teflon president, much like Ronald Reagan and her husband, Bill Clinton. Possibly, you can add George W. Bush to that list, as well as Barack Obama. They might all have found themselves in the midst of controversy and scandal, but they all survived and received two terms in office, except for Hillary, who will be seeking her first term and, if she wins that, will surely aim for that second term in another four years.

Today, it pains me to think of what we might have had in Bernie Sanders, if people were brave enough to think for themselves and see clearly what almost everyone outside of mainstream Democrats saw: that Bernie Sanders was not only having an impact, but that he started a movement. Some called it a revolution. What he offered those who came to support him is something that Hillary Clinton simply seems incapable of offering voters: belief in a better tomorrow. The only change that she offers is that she is a woman. Yes, that would be something, but if her policies pretty much are the same as those who came before, does that really constitute any truly momentous shift within society? If all she offers us is the TPP and more loopholes for the rich to maintain their privileges and for corporations to ignore tougher environmental legislation, than what kind of real change is that, anyway? Perhaps that is why they made so much of her being a woman during this convention, since it really is the only major change that she would bring. I strongly suspect that is the only major change that she would actually deliver on from day one.

Yes, there was a moment in time when we might have had that chance, with an entirely new candidate.

Instead, what we were offered yesterday was more of the same, just politics as usual. Take it or leave it.

Personally, I'd just as soon leave it. Let the Democrats salivate over her now, conveniently ignoring that she is not trusted by fully two-thirds of Americans. Or, perhaps, let them be apologists to it. Whatever.

All of those speeches and all of the ringing endorsements do not change the fact that she is a weak candidate - a glaringly weak candidate, at that. I mean, when your opponent is someone as laughable as Donald Trump, and yet you trail him in the polls like she does right now, it surely is a telling sign of where you are as a candidate. After all, Donald Trump has serious disapproval numbers, yet he is not the least popular candidate running for the White House at this moment. That's pretty damning.

So, yes, let the Democrats deliver their speeches in support of the mediocrity that has become a bad habit for them. Some of the rest of us feel that this country deserves better than the lesser of two evils, which this election epitomizes probably more than any other election that I know of. We are a country of well over 300 million people, and it is hard to believe that these two living, breathing, walking, talking mediocrities are the best that this country has to offer.

I, for one, do not believe it, and will not waste my vote on either one come November.

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