Letter from the US: Hillary’s real record far from progressive

During the Bill Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton Clinton lobbied Congress to pass her husband’s racist crime bill.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has finally announced she is running for United States president in next year's elections.

In the goof-ball electoral farce that US elections have evolved into, the electoral campaign actually began shortly after the 2012 election.

So it is not odd that the campaigns of both the Republicans and Democrats are now in earnest, nineteen months before the actual election — something not seen in any other “advanced” country.

A big part of the Democratic Party’s purpose in this election is to try to dampen all forms of protest by the oppressed and exploited. Democrats are seeking to corral such protests into the Democratic campaign. Already, pro-Democrat “progressives” are arguing along these lines.

Since Clinton is the Democratic front-runner, it is important to take a look at her real record, which is hardly “progressive” in any meaningful interpretation of the word.

One of Clinton's first high-profile positions was at the notorious Walmart corporation, known for its low wages, discrimination against women workers and aggressive anti-unionism. She was on Walmart’s board of directors from 1986 to 1992.

The would-be president “remained silent” in board meetings as her company “waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers”, an ABC report found.

In her 2003 book, Living History, Clinton wrote that Walmart CEO Sam Walton “taught me a great deal about corporate integrity and success”. She remains a favorite with the Walton family that owns Walmart.

In 2013, Alice Walton donated the maximum allowed, US$25,000, to Clinton’s “Ready for Hillary” Super-PAC (Political Action Committee), her pre-campaign campaign war chest.

As Bill Clinton’s “First Lady”, she played a major role in gutting welfare for the poor during his 1992-2000 administration. In her 2003 book, Clinton boasted: “By the time Bill and I left the White House, welfare rolls had dropped 60 percent.”

This was not due to any drop in poverty. Hardest hit were women and children. Before this “welfare reform”, as it was sold to the public, more than 70% of poor families with children received some kind of cash assistance. By 2010, less than 30% did, and the amount of aid declined more than 50%.

Clinton also lobbied Congress to pass her husband’s racist crime bill. In 2012 book The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander wrote that the bill “escalated the drug war beyond what conservatives had imagined possible”, expanding mass incarceration and the death penalty, hitting Blacks and Latinos the hardest.

This has led to the situation today where one out of four people behind bars worldwide are in US jails.

The two most defining features of Hillary’s tenures as Senator from 2001–09 and Secretary of State from 2009–13 were her promotion of US corporate profit-making and of Washington’s right to militarily intervene in other countries.

Summing up her stint as Secretary of State, Bloomberg commented: “Clinton turned the State Department into a machine for promoting US business.”

It said she sought “to install herself as the government’s highest-ranking business lobbyist,” directly negotiating lucrative overseas contracts for the likes of Lockheed, Boeing and General Electric. “Clinton’s corporate cheerleading has won praise from business groups,” Bloomberg noted.

Clinton's 2011 Foreign Policy essay, “America’s Pacific Century”, was quite open about her objective of “opening new markets for American businesses”. A big thrust in that direction is the Trans-Pacific Partnership now being negotiated in secret between the Barack Obama administration and 11 other Pacific rim nations with the help of more than 600 corporate advisors.

Like Bill Clinton’s North America Free Trade Agreement, the TPP is designed to further empower multinational corporations at the expense of workers, consumers and the environment.

Clinton's essay claimed that growth in east Asia has depended on “the security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the US military”. She argued that “a more broadly distributed military presence across the region will provide vital advantages” in the future.

As a senator, Clinton voted for the ill-fated US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and was a fierce critic of resistance in the United Nations.

In the Senate, Clinton was an especially staunch supporter — even by the standards of the US Congress — of Israel’s military actions and settlement building in the West Bank. She ensured that the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid in the UN “went nowhere”, and last year, after leaving State Department, she ardently defended Israel’s new war of mass murder and destruction in Gaza.

As confirmed in her book published last year, Hard Choices, Clinton supported the 2009 military overthrow of left-of-centre Honduran president Manuel Zelaya.

US support for the military regime helped create the militarised narco-state Hondurans now endure, characterised by terror against the population. This spurs desperate attempts by many, including children, to flee to the US.

In 2010, Clinton demanded that Venezuela “restore private property and return to a free market economy,” saying this was the same goal the US has regarding Cuba.

In Haiti, Bill and Hillary Clinton have relentlessly promoted the sweatshop model of production since the 1990s. Secret diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show that in 2009, the State Department Clinton headed collaborated with subcontractors of Hanes, Levi’s and Fruit of the Loom to oppose a minimum wage rise for Haitian workers — the poorest in the hemisphere.

After Haiti's January 2010 earthquake, Clinton helped spearhead the highly militarised US response and back the repressive UN forces that still occupy the country.

All this is being swept under the rug by “progressives” campaigning for Clinton. Their big argument is that Clinton is not as bad as the Republican candidates. This is the long-standing “lesser evil” argument that trap workers and the oppressed in the Democratic fold.

Another argument for Clinton is that she stands to be the first-ever woman president. The National Organization of Women has already endorsed her.

Clinton also stands in contrast to the openly misogynist Republican candidates. We should defend her against anti-woman attacks by the right wing, as Obama should be defended against racist attacks.

But we must also recognise that Clinton is no friend of women. This is shown by her support for the fundamentalist regimes in places such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. It is shown by the misery caused by the US wars she supports, which have hit women and children disproportionately.

Clinton's record is virtually the same as George W. Bush’s and Obama’s on the economy. This ranges from issues such as welfare “reform”, to the pro-business and anti-worker response to the financial crash, Great Recession and subsequent stagnation that has hit the great majority of working women very hard.

Clinton's “feminism” concentrates on the advancement of women in corporate boardrooms and capitalist politics, not advancing the interests of the majority of women.

Clinton's position on African Americans can be summed up by her ongoing silence over the spate of police killings of Blacks that has sparked a new, national movement.

The orientation of the Democratic Party establishment has just been indicated by Obama’s new Attorney-General Loretta Lynch. She said upon taking office that she intends to visit cities nationwide, not to talk to the Black communities affected, but to the police departments to seek to mend relations.

Clinton says NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who exposed wholesale US surveillance on citizens and governments around the world, should be tried under the notorious Espionage Act.

This act was first used against socialist and militant union antiwar activists during World War I. Clinton also backs all the attacks on civil liberties that have accelerated since the declaration of the “war on terror” after 9/11.

Clinton is seeking to raise about $1 billion to wage her campaign, as will Republican candidates. That means she is dependent on donations from the super-rich.

That is one aspect of the grotesque spectacle of modern US elections. It is one reason why campaigns drag on for years — to raise money.

These long campaigns serve the rich by drowning out the voices of those fighting for their rights and living standards — the great majority.

But even in the most democratic election procedures that can be found in any capitalist country, including situations where elections are publicly financed, the capitalist class dominates politics and the state.

The ruling classes, from the slave societies of Rome and Greece through the feudal states up to capitalism, have always dominated politically as well as economically.

Capitalism follows the golden rule: whoever has the gold, rules.

But in the modern US, this truism has mushroomed to grotesque proportions. The Supreme Court has ruled that money equals free speech, and therefore that corporations and banks are especially endowed with the God-given right to spend as much of their free speech on elections as they wish.

Special PACs are set up so the super-rich can individually exercise their free speech rights by spending as much as they wish.

I am not looking forward to the next year-and-seven months of relentless pounding at the hands of vacuous TV ads, talking heads “analysis” of the personalities involved, debating the hair styles, clothes, faux pas or folksiness of the various candidates nominated and promoted by the very rich. This is the miserable excuse for “politics” in the United States.

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