Why Bernie, not Hillary

Originally posted on Facebook, in January of 2016.

 

To start, I’d like to say that I will vote for Clinton if she gets the nomination, because any democrat it better than any of the GOP candidates. But honestly, I will feel sad if I have to and I’d like to explain why.

Also, I’d like to say that I do have respect for Clinton, and feel a lot of appreciation for her steadfast participation in politics, helping to push women’s rights even just by being there. I have a lot that I critique her on, but I do not think she is evil, nor I do not think the country will erupt into flames if she is elected. But I think that while she is on “our side” (democrats) in some ways, she is decidedly not on “our side” (the masses) in others. Ultimately I do not feel we will see any real progress under a HRC presidency, but rather a further entrenchment in our current oligarchy with at best moderate social advancemnet. On the other hand, I feel we have a rare opportunity to make incredible progressive changes in a Sanders presidency.
I feel Clinton supporters give her position switches a leniency, that she is ‘learns from her mistakes’. Though good intentioned, I think this gives her more of a silver lining than she deserves. Being able to see one’s mistakes, admitting them, and apologizing for them is a good character trait in someone that I would vote for as President. And sure, Clinton has done some of that (though I would argue that more often than not, when she sees her mistakes she tries to distance herself, and states she never made them in the first place), but there are many things that just don’t sit right with me regardless if she’s made any apologies and position switches. On many issues, she has been on the “wrong side of history” (Gay marriage, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act), while in my opinion, Sanders has been on the right side, steadfastly. He has been able to see past the bullshit and call it out all through his career, and even though few have been listening, he carries on tirelessly. That, I have great respect for. I find him to be an inspiring and resilient advocate of the rights of every single American, well before it was the “right time politically.” To me, it’s clear that his character and run for office is completely selfless, which makes it a campaign I feel I can earnestly trust.

 

And while we are on the point of character, in this current campaign I think we have seen strong indicators of Sanders’ character, and less from Clinton than I would have expected. First, Sanders has refused any money that has not come from individual donors. No corporate money, no superpacs, he wouldn’t even let the Red Hot Chili Peppers pick up the $30,000 venue rental for their event with him. Meanwhile, Clinton has amassed the most money of any candidate, much of it in backwards ways that try to pretend to be individual donations when they really aren’t, and that also have long strings attached (more on that later). Second, Sanders does not run negative adds, nor fall to the petty picking level that the media tries to get him to. He speaks bluntly to issues, but stays clear of nasty political plays. Sanders even defended Clinton in the second debate regarding Clinton’s emails. Sanders is really keeping his nose clean, which is a standard that I wish all politicians held themselves to.  But I don’t think Clinton, nor her campaign, have held to quite the same standards.

 

To the point that Clinton is ‘the most qualified.’

I’ve heard this argument from every single supporter of Clinton. I do not deny her long career in multiple positions. Obviously her time as Secretary of State is also a big plus on her resume. But I do not think this makes Sanders under-qualified. He put more bills to vote than anyone else while in office (and decidedly more than Clinton), many built with coalitions between both democrats and republicans. It was Sanders who fought for and got a Veteran health initiative added to the Iraq war bill, it was Sanders who helped finalize the long debated and held back ACA after he managed to add millions of dollars to fund care for low-income families which allowed Democrats to settle. He has been a work horse in the senate and house of representatives. I feel like people undermine his work by labeling him as someone whose roll is to “push the conversation to the left” when in fact he knows better than most how to “get it done.” His position as an independent has been helpful in working with both sides, an advantage that Clinton does not have.

In foreign policy, it is true that he does not have experience quite like being Secretary of State. But I do not think him to a liability in the role of commander in chief. Rather, I think he is a man of deliberation, respect, and foresight. You can watch the speeches he made where he said the Iraq war would only serve to destabilize the region and lead to something worse (hello daesh).

 

 

To the point ‘Clinton is more progressive than we give her credit for.’

I think Clinton is a liberal, but you’re right, I do take credit away from her in many places where she could better qualify as a progressive. I think it was very un-progressive of her to only officially support gay marriage in 2013, and to stand behind DOMA for so long (her defense of this that it was better than something worse is false, and has been fact checked). I think it was very un-progressive of her to label black children as “super-criminals” that need to “come to heel,” (I know in the face of the crack epidemic Sanders voted for the ’94 crime bill, but he never used verbiage like this). She also built a bill (Workplace Religious Freedom Act) which the ACLU said would have basically legalized discrimination in the workplace. I think it is very un-progressive of her to support the death penalty (though she has been quiet on it for a little while). I think it is very un-progressive of her to have such a close and lucrative relationship with Wall Street (it was Bill Clinton’s deregulations which really secured a whole new level of profit-making for them, and aligned in timing of outrageously bountiful speaking fees for him and HRC). I think it very un-progressive to label herself as an environmentalist while she also promoted hydro-fracking, personally lobbying for Chevron to Bulgaria and Romania, while as Secretary of State. I think it very un-progressive of her to not support at least the decriminalization of marijuana. I think it very un-progressive of her to support the Patriot Act, and not Snowden. And I think it very un-progressive to have pushed for the Iraq war and subsequent military activities as hard as she has (especially the use of drones), and while Sanders doesn’t go as far as I want either in condemning the Israeli apartheid of the Gaza strip, at least he said Israel was “overacting” that bloody summer, while Clinton defends all of Israel’s aggressive and illegal settlers.

 

So when Clinton supporters mention the 93% of the times when she and Sanders voted the same in their time in the Senate, I could show you how the above issues either fell into that remaining 7% or never came up in vote form. And these issues are enormous and draw big fat lines in the sand where they stand very far apart from one another. Sanders has voted and spoken contrary to Clinton in so many positions that I feel are vital characteristics to the person who I want to be president. There are the topics I mentioned above, and then to name a few more:

–       Sanders voted against the Iraq war, Clinton for it.

–       Sanders opposes the TPP. Clinton has been one of its biggest supporters

–       Sanders opposes Keystone pipeline. Clinton supports it.

–       Sanders voted against the Secure Fence Act of 2006, while Clinton voted for it.

–       Sanders fought to ban offshore drilling altogether, but Clinton supported an Energy Security Act which opened up drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (and then Deep Horizon happened…).

–       Sanders voted against the Wall Street bail-out. Clinton for it.

–       Sanders has worked hard to reinstate Glass-Steagall, while Clinton helped to see and continues to defend its repeal.

 

And here at Glass-Steagall, I would like to take this point to move into “The Single Issue,” that many Clinton supporters feel Sanders is limited to.

Income inequality is a massive issue, but what Sanders is speaking and fighting against doesn’t stop at personal and corporate wealth. It seeps into the fabric of our very society, which affects how we feel about each other and how we then behave towards one another. All the poor, sorry, racist supporters of Trump feel betrayed, ignored, stepped upon and many of them are not completely wrong to feel that way. But they miss-direct their frustrations, blaming people based on the color of their skin instead of their actions. Do you think if these people were living prosperous and satisfying lives that they would feel such a need to hate and point blame at someone else? I don’t think so. I just read a piece the other day that effectively said it was because we “made black people equal” that there is now “less of the pie” to go around. It’s a crazy notion, of course, especially when we know who is really to blame for there being “less to go around.” But it’s an opinion that currently exists, born out of people lacking. How can we fix that? I think an economic answer is the one we are looking for.

 

I don’t think I need to tell you that the income disparity in our country has gotten completely out of control. Fueled by scheming policy practices and manipulative tax code The 1 percent now has 35.6 percent of all private wealth, more than the bottom 95 percent combined. You’re right when you say that income inequality underpins other inequalities, and I believe it is there, at the source, where it can be truly stopped, and no where else. Baltimore is a great example of a city that has struggled under racist economic policies. Even George Romney (Mitt Romneys father) as secretary of housing and urban development, called it the “white noose around African-American communities.” He implemented programs to stop this, but the Nixon administration reined him in, halted his programs and pushed him out of office. If he had been allowed to continue his work, do you think Baltimore would have exploded in the racial violence that we see today? I don’t think so.

 

As an independent contractor, making less than $35,000 a year, I pay about 26% in income taxes. And many in our shrinking middle class pay more than that (35% or even 40%). But someone making over $10 million pays just 19%, and many pay just 15%. And they escape most payroll taxes, to boot. In fact, thanks to capital gains tax, Warren Buffet pays less income taxes than his secretary (he pays 17%). The step-in basis allows the wealthy to pass on their wealth only paying taxes on the amount you originally paid for that wealth, and not what its grown to. The wealthy can take advantage of Trust Freezing to shield their wealth from taxes, or they could send it overseas. Many execs take part of their salaries in the form of stocks, where they can better control when and how they pay taxes on them, or they can use a shell company (like Mitt Romney did). Or they can take their salary in a deferred-compensation plan instead of taking their yearly salary all at once, thereby paying even less income taxes (like 79% of CEOs at Fortune 010 companies do). And you can also categorize your yacht as your second home. This just scratches the surface for personal wealth. I haven’t even started on what corporations enjoy (bail outs of wall street, massive subsidies for big agriculture and big pharma, monopolizations for cable companies and health insurers, and on and on).

 

Sure, Clinton is now matching her tune closer to Sanders, telling stories in a recent debate she said “I went to Wall Street in December of 2007 before the big crash that we had, and I basically said ‘cut it out. Quit foreclosing on homes.’” But she can’t erase the past where at the exact time she mentions (2007), she actually made speeches shouldering the blame on the people saying homeowners “should have known they were getting in over their heads… Now these economic problems are certainly not all Wall Street’s fault – not by a long shot”

 

Here is a larger excerpt from a Guardian piece, “Wall Street deregulation pushed by Clinton advisers, documents reveal’ – “Wall Street deregulation, blamed for deepening the banking crisis, was aggressively pushed by advisers to Bill Clinton who have also been at the heart of current White House policy-making, according to newly disclosed documents from his presidential library.

The previously restricted papers reveal two separate attempts, in 1995 and 1997, to hurry Clinton into supporting a repeal of the Depression-era Glass Steagall Act and allow investment banks, insurers and retail banks to merge.

A Financial Services Modernization Act was passed by Congress in 1999, giving retrospective clearance to the 1998 merger of Citigroup and Travelers Group and unleashing a wave of Wall Street consolidation that was later blamed for forcing taxpayers to spend billions bailing out the enlarged banks after the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

The White House papers show only limited discussion of the risks of such deregulation, but include a private note which reveals that details of a deal with Citigroup to clear its merger in advance of the legislation were deleted from official documents, for fear of it leaking out.

“Please eat this paper after you have read this,” jokes the hand-written 1998 note addressed to Gene Sperling, then director of Clinton’s National Economic Council.

Earlier, in February 1995, newly-appointed Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, his deputy Bo Cutter and senior advisers including John Podesta gave the president three days to decide whether to back a repeal of Glass-Steagall.” 

There are a few things to take away from this: 1) One could argue that Clinton’s heart wasn’t in this, but 2) For whatever reason, he gave in to these pressures, and c) these pressures still exist because the BIGGEST thing to note is that the last mentioned advisor JOHN PODESTA. He currently resides as Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.

 

“The public has a right to know that four of the top five firms that had furnished campaign contributions to Clinton over the course of her political career are the same Wall Street banks and investment firms whose exponential growth was facilitated by the repeal of Glass-Steagall.  The public is also entitled to know that, after she resigned as secretary of state, Bill and Hillary Clinton received more than $25 million in speaking fees in just 14 months. When placed in this context, Clinton’s claim that her proposals are tougher on Wall Street than those advanced by Sanders and Warren make no sense.  Clinton would have the American electorate believe that Wall Street has donated millions of dollars to her campaign because they want a president who will crack down harder on their fraudulent schemes?”

 

In fact, Clinton’s campaign staff is littered with lobbyists that have worked for, still work for and are cozy with companies that most liberals despise: Jose Villarreal, campaign treasurer (NASDAQ, Nationwide Mutual Insurance, Bridgestone, Boeing, AT&T, Citigroup and more), Charlie Baker III, chief administrative officer (Rhode Island-based Citizens Bank, the pharmaceutical firm Medicines Company, defense contractor Raytheon, gambling trade association group Interactive Gaming Council and more), Jeffery Berman, consultant on tracking delegates (the Keystone pipeline, SeaWorld, second-larges private prison corporation the GEO Group, and more).

And speaking of GEO, “Lobbying firms that work for two major private prison giants, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, gave $133,246 to the Ready for Hillary PAC, according to Vice.” Think Progress writes “Raking in billions of dollars, two of the largest prison corporations, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), are some of the most influential lobbyists in the country.”

 

You see, I’m completely unconvinced that a vote for Hillary is a vote JUST for her. I think that no matter what the more progressive side of her wants to achieve, she is beholden to an entire caste of people who are trying to maintain the hold they have on this country.

 

Personally, I think that that is the most important issue we have in front of us today. Without regaining that control, we have no hope to make progress in any other area unless it’s also in their interests. That’s not my idea of a democracy. That’s a sham.

 

In this current oligarchy, we have seen mega powers actively trying to get Clinton the nomination. Her close ties with Debbie Wasserman Shultz (Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager) have revealed painfully smarmy plots, and a complete undermining of the democratic process, and a shot in the foot for the Democratic party. Never have we seen so few debates, scheduled at such obvious times when there will be as few people watching as possible. It honestly appalls me.

 

Then, of course, we have the now classic way in which the elites have decided that they will choose the president, instead of the people, Superdelegates.
The position of Superdelegate was first created in 1984, because party leaders then felt that the public were electing political duds and wanted to regain control in the selection process. At that time superdelegates made up 14% of all delegates. Today their ranks have risen to 20%. [Wikipedia]

 

In the early 1980s, DNC officials were upset with the selection of Jimmy Carter (not the worst of choices in retrospect?). And their new scheme allowed for the selection of McGovern and Dukakis (Who? Exactly. Who chose the real duds now?).

 

But the point of the superdelegates remains as strong today as it did then, as beautifully stated by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz on Feb 11th, 2016:

“Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grass-roots activists.” [Washington Post]

Wow. Thanks, Debbie, for making that crystal clear.

 

And who are these superdelegates? Elected officials? Quite the contrary.

 

“FELZENBERG:These voter-shy delegates can be present and former officials, party donors, celebrities, or seasoned political operatives.

LOPEZ: How does one get to be a superdelegate?

FELZENBERG: State delegations select the superdelegates. These are highly coveted spots. All who hold them come to them by virtue of a powerful sponsor or through the personal prestige they have developed over decades of service to the party or through their celebrity status.” [National Review]

The superdelegates are chosen by our political elite, for reasons we can see after careful research. Half of our superdelegates are white men [politico], but more importantly, many of them are LOBBYISTS:
“JEFF BERMAN is a “top lobbyist” at Bryan Cave LLP, he also formerly worked as a lobbyist for the private prison company GEO Group, and he worked with TransCanada to build support for the Keystone XL pipeline.

JENNIFER CUNNINGHAM the managing director of SKDKnickerbocker, a political consulting firm that has worked to get tax cuts for overseas earnings, to weaken rules for for-profit colleges and to undermine Michelle Obama’s nutrition guidelines for children’s food products.

BILL SHAHEEN is married to Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire, and he also runs a law firm that’s lobbied on behalf of the American Council of Life Insurers, which lobbies on behalf of 300 health insurance companies that represent 90 percent of US health insurance assets.

JOANNE DOWDELL is the “senior vice president for global government affairs” at Fox’s parent company, News Corporation, meaning that she’s one of the media establishment’s top lobbyists.

JILL ALPER,  MINYON MOORE,  MARIA CARDONA are all officials at Dewey Square Group, which is a lobbying group that worked to undermine health reform efforts back in 2009. (Dewey Square Group is also on retainer by pro-Clinton Super PACs like Priorities USA Action and David Brock’s Correct the Record.)” [truth-out.org]

DICK GEPHARDT, who made a strange transition from being very progressive in office, to leaving office and becoming a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs post financial crisis, Visa against credit card reform, Peabody Energy against climate change legislation, and United HealthGroup against health care reform [thenation].

HOWARD DEAN, whose fateful scream helped boot him from the presidential race, now lobbys for the law firm Dentons, who operates on behalf of “corporate health care interests, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a powerful trade group for drugmakers like Pfizer and Merck.” [The intercept] Remember Pfizer? The company that moved their headquarters to Ireland “where the corporate tax rate is just 12.5 per cent, compared to thirty-five per cent for a company of its size in the United States. Over the next few years, the merger could save Pfizer billions of dollars in taxes and deprive the U.S. Treasury of the same amount.” [The New Yorker]

And on…

 

As superdelegates, their votes count roughly 10,000 times MORE than yours does.

And if you need a reminder of how much their influence counts over yours, I suggest this handy video inspired after a report from Princeton University asked ‘Does the Government represent the people” to which they found the answer to be “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

Corruption is Legal in America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tu32CCA_Ig

 

What Sanders is addressing and fighting against encompasses all of this. That’s way bigger than simply “income inequality.” It’s attempting to revert our oligarchy back into a democracy. A shiny new democracy with a sparkly socialist twinkle.

 

And just because income inequality is the largest sound bite of Sanders’ campaign, I don’t think he will ignore minority rights, womens’ rights, health issues, etc the way Clinton supporters claim he will. In fact, he talks a lot about these topics as well. Planned Parenthood puts them at equal rating. Sanders marched with MLK, and was even arrested as a civil rights protester. Sanders is the only politician talking about how a pill shouldn’t cost 10 times more here than what it does in Canada.
I believe, Sanders is much more qualified to fight for me, and others, because he has never wavered in doing so before. Clinton has done a really good job of writing detailed papers on specific issues that have captured the interest of many specific groups in health care. But if she doesn’t win the nomination, those ideas don’t vanish. She will still be active in politics, and Sanders will take on good ideas no matter who they are from. You won’t loose the ideas that you’ve been attracted to.

 

And Sanders’ plans aren’t un-realistic. They exist in multiple countries across the world, he has laid out how he will pay for everything and it has been fact checked. Also, they will move through congress once his now highly charged and engaged base follows him to the general election (whereas many might not if he looses the primary, better ensuring the chance that republicans maintain control and let nothing through).

 

PLUS, I think he is our best bet at defeating the likely republican nominee, Trump. Polls have him defeating Trump handedly, while Clinton only beats him narrowly (and she looses to Cruz).
I know many people, sadly, who will abstain from voting in the general election if Sanders looses the nomination, thus making a GOP president more possible. We can be as mad as that as we like, but the fact is the majority of the people are so damned jaded with our current political system, and it’s hard to blame them for that. Sanders is reinvigorating people to the democratic process even more than Obama did. Without that energy, peoples trust in the ability to change their situation vanishes, and their apathy takes over once again. With Sanders as the nominee, we have the opportunity to bring an epic wave of participation back into politics. And number is all we, the people, have. Without our numbers, we have absolutely no power. We need a leader who can inspire us that the fight is not over yet. Is Clinton really that leader? She wants to be, but she is stained, bought, and answers to a few important people way before she answers to us.

 

But luckily, I feel we have an incredible choice this year, when usually we don’t. We have someone who knows all of this, hates all of this, speaks directly about all of this, is working against all of this, and is mostly importantly, mobilizing the American people to demand differently than all of this. I find if truly incredible, and want his nomination more than I’ve wanted anything in a really long time.

 

So that’s my 2, or 2 dozen cents on this. I’ve listed all my sources below, but forgive me, I was a little sloppy (I didn’t know this was going to be this big when I started writing) and I didn’t notate all of them in the text what their sources were. I just don’t have the time for that now, after the fact (bad, Liz! Writing essays 101!), but if you have a specific question about where I got something, let me know and I’ll try to answer it.

 

 

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/hillary-clinton-lobbyists-campaign-staff-keystone-lehman

 

https://pplswar.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/what-bernie-sanders-got-done-in-washington-a-legislative-inventory/

 

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/29052-five-reasons-no-progressive-should-support-hillary-clinton

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/19/wall-street-deregulation-clinton-advisers-obama

 

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33868-what-we-can-expect-from-hillary-clinton-on-israel-palestine

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/clinton-on-glass-steagall-right-or-wrong/

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-07-17/lobbyists-for-monsanto-exxon-mobile-raise-money-for-hillary-clinton

 

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/presidential-campaign/270053-hillary-clintons-artful-smear-an-artful-dodge

 

Facts and Figures in 99 to 1

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/05/06/404441478/troubled-neighborhoods-reflect-segregations-legacy-researcher-says
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/hillary-clinton-lobbyists-campaign-staff-keystone-lehman

 

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/tax-deductions-favor-rich-1.aspx

 

http://www.blackenterprise.com/money/taxes/infographic-how-rich-avoid-taxes/

 

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/aug/18/warren-buffett/warren-buffett-says-super-rich-pay-lower-taxes-oth/

 

http://usuncut.com/politics/video-surfaces-of-hillary-clinton-blaming-homeowners-for-financial-crisis/

 

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1877351_1877350_1877322,00.html

 

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/2/17/1486673/-When-Lobbyist-Become-Superdelegates

 

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34898-have-the-democratic-superdelegates-been-compromised

 

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/223647/superdelegate-101-interview

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/20/opinion/superdelegates-clarify-your-role.html?_r=0

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/12/we-need-more-questions-like-this-one-from-jake-tapper-to-debbie-wasserman-schultz-video/

 

http://www.politico.com/story/2008/02/white-men-hold-superdelegate-power-balance-008535

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superdelegate

http://www.thenation.com/article/dick-gephardts-spectacular-sellout/

 

https://theintercept.com/2016/01/14/howard-dean-lobbyist/

 

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/the-pfizer-allergan-merger-is-a-disgrace

 

 

 

 

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