Monday 8 February 2016

Hillary Clinton: It's the Politics, Stupid

Time bullshit was called on Hillary Clinton's cheerleaders. You know what I'm talking about, the avalanche of comment saying that she must win the Democrat nomination for presidency, regardless of her record and views. And to a piece those defences are, at best, willfully clueless, and, at worst, bad faith.

Before we go there, let's get the caveats in. Were I a registered Democrat with a vote at an upcoming caucus, my support would go to Bernie Sanders. This is because his politics are closer to mine than Hillary Clinton's, and the chance of him burying the Republican contender - whoever that dysfunctional oaf turns out to be - are roughly the same as Hillary's. For the record, despite having politics closer to Jeremy Corbyn on most issues, during the mass primary that was the Labour leadership campaign, I ended up voting voting for Yvette Cooper on the grounds that she was the candidate most likely to best the Tories. Obviously, I appreciate the majority of readers would disagree. Nevertheless, I'm sure everyone would accept that Jeremy saw off Yvette and Liz not because they were women or the party is irredeemably sexist, but because of his platform. It's not rocket science.

Which is what makes the imputed sexism suggested by Hillary's defenders so infuriating. Take Sophy Ridge's view. Going through a brief potted history about women going for high office, she laments that Hillary has bucketloads of experience, is eminently qualified for high office, before noting that the rug has been pulled from under her: "Clinton has jumped through the hoops set for her – proving herself as a Senator and Secretary of State, extricating herself from her husband’s shadow - only to be told that she's been doing it all wrong."

The same is true of a very similar piece in the New Statesman by Sarah Ditum, who suggests Hillary is being forced to live up to higher standards on account of being a woman. While it is true she has suffered appalling sexism throughout her career, to suggest her record should be ignored because she is a woman ("women have the right to political office exactly as men do, and that means that we can do it well or badly, feministly or unfeministly – just as men have been doing for millennia. Women are entitled to be wrong and mediocre sometimes") is sheer tokenism and, one might suggest, contrary to the spirit of what feminism is about.

And then there is the truly idiotic missives from Gloria Steinem and Madelaine Allbright. For Gloria, one of the most influential and important feminists alive, to suggest young women are going for Bernie Sanders over Hillary because they're thinking "where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie..." is hardly going to endear young women to these arguments. For Madelaine, it's a case of their "being a special place in Hell for women who don't help each other", clearly indicating that women Democrats should do their sisterly duty.

This is frustrating, but not at all surprising. The heart of the matter is politics are changing. As the old solidarities underpinning the old politics pass into the night, so-called values voters (or, indeed, non-voters) appear to be growing in number. This isn't a cunning ruse to keep a woman from entering the White House as someone other than the First Lady, but a result of long-term demographic changes afflicting all Western liberal democracies. As far as "values" left wing voters are concerned, it's not enough to back someone who will do things that are damaging to our people just because they're not the conservative candidate, they want someone who reflects their policy preferences and priorities. Hillary is an experienced figure and competent politician more than capable of doing the job, but what matters most for those young women in Iowa who neglected to lend her their votes is politics.

Yes, Hillary is establishment politics, and she's being judged on the basis of them. Were she to be President, it's unlikely America would look much different after two Hillary terms, what with its rising inequality, demonisation of immigrants, acute pathological social anxieties, awful treatment of the poor and carte blanche for big business to run rampant. She has many supporters down Wall Street for a reason. And, lest we forget, while Bernie Sanders has forced her to tack to the left in some instances, one position she hasn't rolled back was on social security. Seeing as cuts to state support disproportionately hit women, it's telling that her supporters instructing women to vote for the woman are blind to the tens of millions of women at the sharp end, women whose only media exposure is when the cameras come to ogle them and use them as the butt of hypocritical morality tales. Do they then stand to gain more, and be empowered by the policies and action (and inactions) of a Hillary or Bernie presidency? I think the answer is so obvious it's testing the reader's patience to have to spell it out.


Anonymous said...

However attracted to Sanders rather than Clinton I am, it's the politics that veers me to back Clinton.

Why? Because the Americans are a conservative people, even more than the Brits. And I voted Corbyn. But the neo-cons in the USA are even more terrifying than the Tories in Britain. Primaries are just one type of election and whilst we saw a leftist McGovern do well amongst Democrats he crashed and burned to Nixon in 1972 in a Republican landslide.

Clinton can appeal to 'middle' and ethnic minority America, and surely more than Trump, Rubio or Cruz. That's the important bit. But if Bernie wins the nomination, there will be many that are frit of 'socialism' and will turn to the GOP winning candidate. Jezza has four years to demonstrate that he has staying power. Bernie does not. And he's 74.

Gary Elsby said...

The responsibility of still trying to do the responsible thing continues to test you Phil, does it not?

You would support Bernie because his politics is 'closer to you'.
You then train wreck that with 'Yvette Cooper would best the Tories'.

The responsibility of it all rests heavily on your shoulders.
Nobody 'bested' the Tories than Tony, nobody.

What happened to just giving support to those that do the right thing?
Bernie Sanders appears to have done just that for a near lifetime until taking the Democratic oath. His principles and morals seem to be a deliberate action of which he did not waver and 1 million people stepped forward with donations of $77m in acknowledgement of support.

For what seems like a life time, I've wished Hilary good luck but good luck to Bernie also.
Maybe Hilary will give Bernie a role as Obama gave Kerry?

Phil said...

Yet another nonsensical contribution from Befuddled of Baddeley Green.

Gary Elsby said...

Oh dear Phil, did I strike a nerve?

You yourself write: "It is not rocket science".

Yet you defy science and support something you do not support.
It's baffling.

BCFG said...

I don't see much difference between Clinton and Trump personally. Or between Clinton and any of the other republican candidates.

To be honest if Yvette Cooper ran New Labour it wouldn't make much difference if she or Cameron won. New Labour like to talk a good game but under them the unions declined, neo liberalism became more entrenched, sports direct turned employees into slaves and zero hour contracts became the fashion.

This goes to a point I have made before, the enemy of progress is not the hard right but the centre left. They are enemy we have to defeat. This is once again being proven in the USA. After it was proved in Greece, Spain and the UK.

Robert said...

Hillary is the conservative business as usual candidate. If I was American I would certainly vote for Sanders. Sanders might find it easier to see off Trump than Clinton would.

David Parry said...

Chris Rivers

You mention the 1972 US presidential election. If I'm not mistaken, the Democrats then were hopelessly divided (just as the UK Labour party were a decade later), with the Democratic party machine refusing to get behind McGovern's campaign.

I mention this because I'm sceptical of the assumption that elections are won or lost on the basis of political positions. I think other factors such as party unity are far more important. Not for nothing is the adage that divided parties don't win elections oft-repeated.

Phil said...

You're on the money, Gary. Like most right-thinking people I find idiocy and stupidity offensive.

Chris said...

How many times a day is feminism used to defend the establishment?

We've seen it with Jeremy Corbyn, Julian Assange and now Bernie Sanders. There's a clear pattern of powerful, establishment women like Albright using feminism as a weapon against the left.

That's not to say there aren't any good feminists, but they're certainly getting drowned out at the moment.

Anonymous said...

David Parry - you may be right. Another assertion I hear is that Oppositions don't win elections, Governments lose them. That's often determined by the economy. Not enough people felt that Cameron's economic management was bad enough to vote him out and let Miliband in.

jim mclean said...

Somewhere I read people have a moral duty to select the lesser of two evils, this must be carried through to politics. Phil votes for YC as he feels that Labour would have had the better chance with her. Sensible. I voted for JC because I felt it might reinvigorate the party and remove the other leadership candidates who were truly underwhelming, but in doing so I was basing my choice on my view that Corbyn will resign within a couple of years allowing a new leader to take the party into 2020. As for Clinton, she is not a very good politician and she is facing an anyone but Hilary moment.

Gary Elsby said...

It's not wrong Phil to vote and support something you mostly believe in rather than something you mostly disagree with.

1.To vote for Jeremy because you mostly agree with his views is honest.

2.To vote for Yvette even though you disagree mostly of her views takes some explaining.

1. Is honest and trustworthy
2. Is dishonest and un-trustworthy.

Number 2. should never be allowed to be a Conference delegate because they would act like a representative.

David Parry said...

Chris Rivers,

'Another assertion I hear is that Oppositions don't win elections, Governments lose them.'

Yep, that's equally true.

'That's often determined by the economy. Not enough people felt that Cameron's economic management was bad enough to vote him out and let Miliband in.'

Again, bang on the money. Governing parties at times of economic crises inevitably sustain damage to their reputation vis-a-vis economic competence, whether fairly or not. If the crisis is severe, as the 2007-9 financial crash certainly was, and/or if the opposition is in a sufficiently strong position to capitalise on it, then the governing party will be placed at a disadvantage in terms of trustworthiness with the economy, and parties in that position don't win elections.

Part of the problem for Labour in 2015 was that they were seen by too many people, particularly swing voters in Tory-Labour marginals, for whom these matters tend to be of utmost importance, as being less trustworthy with the economy than the Tories. Part of the reason for that was obviously the 2007-9 crash and the damage that that did to Labour's reputation on economic management, but it was also that the flaws in the Tories' economic management simply weren't great enough to erode the advantage that they had over Labour in terms of being trustworthy on the economy.

Anonymous said...

just an addendum to your post: hilary clinton lost in all major demographic groups except those making more than $200,000 a year. all i can say is bernie sanders' campaign has been like a tall, cool glass of lemonade after a 40 year trek in the desert.


Gary Elsby said...

I would never presume to judge Ed Miliband as being dishonest or untrustworthy. I believe him to b honest and trustworthy and a very decent man and Leader.
The problem for Labour is that he was OK in the 2015 campaign with austerity.
He believed it to be the right course of action.

On the other hand we have Jeremy who says no to austerity.

Is one more honest than the other or is it just down to choice?
In Stoke-on-Trent we removed a Labour Council because of it's commitment to austerity and closure. No fight, nothing.

Jeremy spoke of 'political choices'.
That's what we levelled at our Labour Council, pre-Jeremy.

Choice is not just a matter of conscience, it is a matter of political conscience and the choice is all ours/yours.

I'm not particularly startled by the right wing of Labour taking the 'no choice' route but they shouldn't expect me to support them because as Jeremy quite rightly says, we all have choices and I assume he means political choice through conscience.

Labour lost in 2015, including Stoke's Labour group, for the very same reasons why Jeremy won on a landslide. It's not a coincidence.
Those of the 4.5% progress group still refuse to give good reasons why they were crushed into insignificance.

I'm still not quite with it why someone would support the next best thing rather than support the best thing.
A bit like betting on Chelsea beating your own side you worship, Stoke City. Yes, a possibility and possibly a probability.
I wouldn't place that bet. If I thought it, I wouldn't take the bet. I'd want Stoke to win 10-0.

The purposes of this blog I support Bernie Sanders but prefer not to place a bet on Hilary to win, even though I think it will happen. Up to now, he's doing just fine.

Yvette may be a fine politician and would probably make a very good leader, but I reject austerity as a 'political choice' and not a necessity and therefore I prefer to be honest with myself and support Jeremy 100% because I believe I him when he rejects austerity.

The first 10 people I saw on the day Jeremy won, eight I didn't know, all voted Jeremy. No one in the room wanted anyone else.

I'm not having a go at you Phil, for I truly know how the burden of trying to do the right thing bears heavily on the inner soul of collective responsibility.
But I believe that fighting for what you truly believe in gains just as much respect from compatriots as it does from adversaries.

Anonymous said...

"This is once again being proven in the USA. After it was proved in Greece, Spain and the UK."

"You and I remember Budapest very differently."