I’ve been a member of the Democratic Party for a long time. I believed in the party and its policies. I remained in the party even though I knew some of its members were corrupt – such as Chris Dodd, Max Baucus, and Harry Reid. I didn’t like it that these men engaged in questionable campaign practices, gained personal financial advantage by sponsoring certain legislation, or made dubious deals with lobbyists to water down regulatory laws. But I stayed loyal to the party – believing no organization is perfect – every institution has its bad apples. I also understood that senators like Harry Reid operated within a corrupt system – one that encouraged them to raise money at breakneck speed to remain in office. Nevertheless, my faith in the party has been steadily diminishing, especially since January 2009 and Obama’s inauguration. In the last few days, my faith in the party hit rockbottom.
I had been an Obama supporter back in 2008 and again in 2012. For six years, I convinced myself that Obama’s inability to implement his agenda had more to do with GOP obstructionism than with his own conservatism. About a year ago, I came to a troubling realization. Obama is a Clintonian Democrat, which in my book is the worst-sort of Democrat. He isn’t, and never was, a transformative leader. He was Wall Street’s Trojan Horse – put into office to keep the masses of Americans from marching on Wall Street and Washington and throwing the banksters and self-serving ruling class into the sea. I now feel silly for being such a firm Obama supporter, but you live and learn.
Obama hasn’t accomplished all that much, at least in the policy areas I consider important. The U.S. is still fighting two un-winnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, the administration repeatedly placates the world’s most authoritarian regimes – the People’s Republic of China and Russia. In 2011, after the Great Missouri River Flood, the Missouri Basin’s Democratic Party representatives colluded with the GOP to maintain the status quo along the river, meaning the Army Corps rebuilt the very same flood-control infrastructure that failed so miserably during the flood. Income inequality hasn’t budged during Obama’s presidency. As a matter of fact, it’s worsened. Real wages are stagnant for the majority of Americans. The minimum wage has remained at a dismal $7.25 per hour for the past six years. Two-thirds of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. The bankrupt neo-liberal, de-regulatory ideology of the Right is still alive and well. Obama and the Democrats had an opportunity in early 2009, with their electoral mandate, to put the neo-liberal ideology into the dustbin of history once and for all – they never did it. Why? Because I am convinced the majority of congressional Democrats are actually closet neo-liberals.
Back in 2009, the president and the Democrats in Congress could have implemented a massive New New Deal – to create the foundation for a Green American economy – and to wean the American people off fossil fuels. They didn’t do it. Just yesterday the Dems agreed to allow the export of U.S. oil, which means that as U.S. oil consumption falls, U.S. fracking companies can still keep their sales up by shipping their dirty oil abroad. Obamacare has become law, but insurance premiums are skyrocketing, partly because the Dems are unwilling to regulate the large insurers. The military still receives a disproportionate share of national wealth, while teachers remain underpaid and overworked and social services suffer from a lack of funding. College students are taking on huge amounts of debt to receive mediocre educations at subpar universities. Mass shootings are almost a daily occurrence. Again, the Dems failed to impose sensible gun control when they held both houses of Congress and the White House. The list of presidential and Democratic Party failures goes on and on.
Now we come to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Does anyone, Left or Right, actually believe she is a transformative political figure? Let’s be honest. She is a product of the system. She’s an operator, a player. She’s also Wall Street’s chosen Democratic candidate.
A few days ago, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (who worked on Hillary’s 2008 presidential bid) – decided to deny Bernie Sanders’s campaign access to the Democratic Party’s voter database. Hillary’s campaign refused to challenge or even publicly condemn the decision. I knew Hillary was dirty – she revealed her willingness to hit below the belt during the 2008 Democratic Party primaries when her and Bill repeatedly slurred Obama. But this latest move by her (to support the Wasserman-Shultz decision) goes beyond the pale. If Sanders hadn’t been able to regain access to the voter database, his campaign would have withered and died. And that is exactly what Hillary hoped would happen. Fortunately, Wasserman-Schultz reversed her decision, probably because the party leadership recognized that destroying Sanders campaign would have convinced millions of Sanders supporters to either bolt the party or stay home on election day in 2016.
But this episode over the voter database has raised a number of disturbing questions, questions that deserve answers. First, how did a known Clinton confidant become the DNC Chair? Second, how did the Sander’s campaign actually gain access to Clinton’s voter information? More specifically, was the Sander’s campaign “set up” by the DNC or the Clinton campaign? Third, did Hillary’s people play any role in Wasserman-Schultz’s decision to punish Sanders? Fourth, how can a party that claims to uphold the values of transparency, fairness, and democratic process choose a nominee (Clinton) whose actions undermine those values? And in a related question, why did the DNC schedule the party’s debates when television viewership would be at its lowest?
I am not naive. I don’t expect any of the above questions to be addressed by the Democratic Party and certainly not by Hillary Clinton. It’s likely this entire issue is going to be pushed under the rug. What I do expect is some kind of appointment for Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in any future Clinton administration.