NEW YORK – If you lean left, the only presidential candidate who shares your values is Dr. Jill Stein. But she can’t win. The two major parties have left — sorry for the pun — you and your concerns high and dry.
Certainly, Donald Trump is not your man. Though he has recently made noises to the contrary, Trump has repeatedly argued that wages are too high and that America’s pathetically low minimum wage should remain at its present poverty level. He’s a fan of torture. Trump calls the police — the police! — “the most mistreated people” in America. The governing philosophy that best approximates his ideology is authoritarianism. His opposition to “free trade” and the Iraq War aren’t nearly enough to justify casting a vote for him.
Polls show Hillary Clinton heading toward the White House. But that prospect should make liberals shudder in horror. Like Trump, Hillary is an enemy of human rights and the struggle for equality and justice. But she’s worse than him in one important respect: she’ll send the Bernie Sanders wing of the party packing.
A right-wing Trump presidency would galvanize the left. We saw that during the Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr. years, which generated massive street protests. But DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) like Bill Clinton and Obama have the opposite effect. Satisfied that a Democrat is president, progressives tend to stay home, their criticisms muted to the point of nonexistence. Under Democratic presidents outrageous acts of repression — like Obama’s brutal coordinated raids on the Occupy Wall Street movement — are received by liberals with little more than a mildly annoyed tweet. Look for the left to be defanged under First Woman President/DINO Hillary Clinton.
Don’t vote for Trump. But don’t fall for the same identity politics crap that tricked progressives and liberals in 2008.
Obama made history as the first black president, but he didn’t share the liberal politics or values of most black Americans. On the issues that matter most, he turned out to be a right-winger: bigger old wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (he voted six times to fund the Iraq bloodshed), new wars in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, drones gone wild, and talk about mass deportations — no president has ever expelled more illegal immigrants than Obama.
Corporate media political observers say that progressive stalwarts Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will influence Cabinet picks and policy in a Hillary Clinton administration. But the tea leaves as well as her track record suggest that right-wing forces — particularly Wall Street and the war industry — will exert a much stronger gravitational pull.
Thanks to WikiLeaks, we know that top Clinton insiders consider Bernie Sanders to be a “doofus,” that she looks forward to an interventionist foreign policy, will continue to be highly secretive to the point that she would love to wage war covertly, and considers Wall Street bankers to be the most qualified people to write financial regulations.
Like her husband, Hillary is likely to choose Cabinet members who lean right. The one possible exception would echo Bill’s. Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a liberal, is being considered for the relatively minor post of secretary of labor, where Robert Reich famously languished without portfolio or influence before leaving in disgust after a few years. All the others are conservatives.
Pro-Hillary Democrats argue that Clinton might nominate big-time liberals to the Supreme Court. But the judges she has on her shortlist for Supreme Court vacancies are closer to the centrist wing of her party. Obviously she will nominate Democrats for seats where Trump would nominate Republicans. But I wouldn’t look for a seismic shift there.
What liberal Democrats should worry more about than anything else is probably her current saber-rattling with Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. First, she’s challenging the Russians’ alliance with Syria and threatening to shoot down Russian planes.
She’s blaming Russia to deflect revelations about her machinations against Bernie Sanders. “We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks (like the WikiLeaks DNC and John Podesta hacks), these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election,” Clinton says. Why does she expect us to take them at their word? After all, these are the same idiotic spooks who supposedly convinced her that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass distraction. No one has presented the slightest evidence, much less proof, that Russia was involved in the hacks.
It’s irresponsible and scary to accuse a nuclear-armed nation of wrongdoing without solid proof. People in the know say that her over-the-top rhetoric has convinced Kremlin officials that she plans to start a war with Russia.
It’s no secret that Clinton has always been a foreign policy hawk, a corporatist on domestic economic matters, and an incrementalist in general. (Personally, I don’t see how you can call for incremental changes on problems like poverty and unemployment and keep a straight face. Here’s 10 percent of a job!)
Problem is, she is all but certain to enter office under conditions that will magnify her conservative instincts. House Republicans will still be in a position to block anything ambitious. And it will be all but impossible for Clinton to claim a mandate in an election where the vast majority of voters were motivated by fear and contempt for Trump rather than an affirmative support for her and her proposals.
So if you are a member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, there’s only one thing to do after election day. Roll up your sleeves and start organizing protests — regardless of who wins.
Political cartoonist and writer Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. © 2016, Ted Rall
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