The Case Against Hillary (and Trump)

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., who chairs the department of African American studies at Princeton University, explains why he won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton for Time:

“Democratic values centered on economic and racial justice shape my own politics. I’m not convinced those values shape hers. Nothing Clinton says or intends to do if elected will fundamentally transform the circumstances of the most vulnerable in this country—even with her concessions to the Sanders campaign. Like the majority of Democratic politicians these days, she is a corporate Democrat intent on maintaining the status quo. And I have had enough of all of them. …

“Perhaps the most persuasive reason to vote for Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump. Trump is worse. I know that. The prospects of a Trump presidency—what would be a deadly combination of arrogance and ignorance—ought to frighten anyone. It frightens me. But my daddy, a gruff man who has lived all of his life on the coast of Mississippi, taught me that fear should never be the primary motivation of my actions. It clouds your thinking, and all too often sends you running to either safe ground when something more daring is required, or smack into the danger itself.”

Professor Glaude’s rationale is more or less in line with mine, though he insists he won’t be voting for anyone for president this year — whereas I will be voting for Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s truly progressive candidate. I’m not alone, as Cornel West, the noted philosopher and former Princeton professor, announced his endorsement for Dr. Stein just last week in the Guardian:

“This November, we need change. Yet we are tied in a choice between Trump, who would be a neo-fascist catastrophe, and Clinton, a neo-liberal disaster. That’s why I am supporting Jill Stein. I am with her – the only progressive woman in the race – because we’ve got to get beyond this lock-jaw situation. I have a deep love for my brother Bernie Sanders, but I disagree with him on Hillary Clinton. I don’t think she would be an ‘outstanding president’. Her militarism makes the world a less safe place.

“Clinton policies of the 1990s generated inequality, mass incarceration, privatization of schools and Wall Street domination. There is also a sense that the Clinton policies helped produce the right-wing populism that we’re seeing now in the country. And we think she’s going to come to the rescue? That’s not going to happen.”

As for Latino voters, deciding between a female Democrat with the last name Clinton and a Republican billionaire who describes Mexicans as rapists while promising to build a wall along the border may seem like an obvious choice. Not so fast, however. The further you study Clinton’s policies and comments, past and present, the more you realize that much of what Trump says he’ll do once he acquires the White House isn’t much different from the policies Hillary has implemented or endorsed as first lady, senator and secretary of state (a point I’ve outlined elsewhere before).

As an outspoken critic of Mrs. Clinton, I’m regularly asked if I don’t fear Trump as the awful threat to democracy and plurality that the media and pundits portray him to be. I don’t, or at least not as much as I fear Hillary. Trump wants to build his Make America Great Wall, for instance, which isn’t less humane than Hillary’s 2014 promise to deport all unaccompanied children fleeing Central America in order to, in her words, “to send a message to families and communities in Central America not to send their children on this dangerous journey in the hands of smugglers.” Never mind that the Obama administration has done his best to make the dangerous journey even more so by placing pressure on the Mexican government to stop the flow of refugees arriving on the Texas border.

Liberals describe Trump as a fascist (and rightly so), but few have much to say about the military coup Hillary supported in Honduras, which installed a regime which has erected a neoliberal Eden atop the crushed rights of Honduras’s indigenous, Garifuna, campesino, student and LGBT communities. As the newly appointed secretary of state at the time, Hillary could’ve and should’ve recommended all aid to the original Banana Republic be cut off till democratic order was restored and President Zelaya returned to his elected office. When pressed on the issue by Democracy Now‘s Juan González in April, however, she defended her actions, saying that cutting aid would’ve “just [made] the situation worse by punishing the Honduran people.” Those who know something about the close political and financial ties between Honduras and United States can see the lie at the heart of Hillary’s justification:

“According to leading activists in Honduras, [Clinton’s] defense doesn’t add up. Gaspar Sanchez is the coordinator for sexual diversity and equal rights at the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, where [recently slain environmental activist Berta] Cáceres served as general coordinator. According to Sanchez, ‘the financing that the government receives from outside the country is money that ends up being used for assassinations in Honduras. In recent months the assassinations of human rights and environmental defenders has been conducted by the military and police themselves, because the military and police are who are guarding the facilities where the companies operate.’

“Former Honduran soldier First Sergeant Rodrigo Cruz claims that Cáceres was named on a hit list for U.S.-trained Honduran special forces months ahead of her death. Cruz made the revelation to Guardian reporter Nina Lakhani, according to an article published in late June.”

I have my principles, but I’m not ignorant of the political calculus which faces the American people in this and every single election in under our two-party sham. Undoubtedly plenty of Latinos, especially those who joined the movement behind Senator Sanders’ campaign, agree with my criticisms of Hillary but will nonetheless be voting for Hillary in November — or rather, against Trump. “Many, despite what I’ve written, will still vote for Clinton,” Glaude writes. “I do not fault them—especially if they live in a hotly contested state like Ohio or Florida. Vote for Clinton to keep Trump out of office. I completely understand that. But I can’t vote for her.”

I can’t vote for Hillary, not only as the son of a Honduran immigrant, but as someone who knows what Hillary’s policies have done to the people of the Americas, which includes this country. I know what NAFTA has done to further cripple the Mexican economy and make Latino workers even more vulnerable by outsourcing once decent-paying manufacturing jobs. CAFTA-DR is doing the same in Central America, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Hillary strongly supported before she strongly opposed it, promises to do the same along the Pacific Rim. I know she supported her husband’s passage of a 1994 crime bill that precipitated the mass incarceration of blacks and Latinos, especially young men. She also supported her husband’s reforms to the welfare system which achieved what the president had set out to do when he ran in 1992 — “end welfare as we know it.”

Plus, if we can be real for a second, Hillary wouldn’t even have had a shot at winning her party’s nomination (and it is her party) were she not a woman. If Hillary were Henry, an establishment white guy taking his crack at the White House, Bernie would’ve swept the primaries and never looked back. But after electing the nation’s first black commander-in-chief, voters are understandably reluctant to return to the traditional practice of picking an old white man every four years. For many, electing the first woman seems like an appropriate sequel to many to the Obama era.

Yet, just as Obama’s election was mostly symbolic, as black people are in no better position today than they were eight years ago, Hillary’s election too would be heavy on symbolism but scant on any substantive change, even for women. “It is not enough that Hillary Clinton might be our first woman president, “Glaude explains:

“Symbolically that would be significant, but the more important question rests with how her economic policies would affect the lives of working, poor women and children here in the United States and around the globe. How would she shift the frame of US aid policy and its impact on developing countries? How might her hawkishness affect the lives of vulnerable women and children? If none of that matters, then we might as well celebrate Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, because she was a woman.”

As we watch the Republicans’ quadrennial celebration in Cleveland this week, many voters will be itching to see Hillary debate Trump live on national television in the coming months. I’m not sure what they’re expecting to see. Perhaps they’re hoping for a classic clash between progressive principles and conservative ideology. If that’s the case, someone should inform them that there won’t be any true progressives or conservatives on stage — just Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.


Featured image: Paula R. Lively/Flickr