With the US Presidential election rapidly approaching, voters are left in a strange situation thanks to the emergence of the eccentric Republican nominee, Donald Trump. You would think, therefore, that moderate American voters would have an easy decision on their hands, with the Democratic nominee being none other than Hillary Clinton, a woman seemingly who is a champion of liberal ideas, a sort of Obama 2.0 option. However, the underlying problem with that assumption is that Clinton is in no way an Obama 2.0, and is not a candidate liberals should enthusiastically be endorsing.
The most obvious example of Clinton not being what voters see at face value is a look at her careers and decisions to date. The Cirriculum Vitae is certainly admirable when we look at the fact she served as a New York Senator for 8 years from 2001-09 and as Obama’s Secretary of State for 4 years, not to mention having been First Lady for 8 years at Bill Clinton’s side. That is over 20 years in high-profile roles in Washington, which is a long time to build the contacts and allies she needed to get to where she is now. This implies she can be viewed as a fine role model for women, granted too she is the first woman from either of the two main US parties to be the Presidential nominee. How she got to this position, however, of being one of the most informed and biggest name in Washington is what tarnishess her reputation.
Wall Street, Political Action Committees, the Military-Industrial Complex; all areas that make Hillary Clinton the establishment candidate in this election. Clinton’s Presidential campaign has benefited from donations exceeding $400 million, with her main campaign committee, Hillary for America, having raised over $300 million from significant donations. Some donations, exceeding $10 million, have come from the largest investment firms Paloma Partners and the Saban Capital Group. Donors to political campaigns have obvious vested interests, which are rewards for their support. Of course some of Clinton’s largest donors are Wall Street investment firms as stated above. Tackling dubious practice on Wall Street has been an issue for a long time in order to avoid the same dodgy business dealings that contributed to the 2008 Wall Street meltdown. Indeed Wall Street reform was the defining issue in the Demoratic primary, with Sen. Bernie Sanders being sceptical of the capitalist system altogether, with Wall Street his biggest target. Hillary shrugged off that battle, and has donors to repay. Clinton looks to have an array of big promises to clamp down on huge risk business on Wall Street. The only problem with that, however, is that she has a history for being deceitful and telling lies, not to mention that Wall Street firms have been most generous towards her. Acting against them could be counterproductive to a second campaign in 2020, given their huge abundance of cash and enthusiasm at Republican calls for less government regulation.
As I alluded to in the last paragraph, Clinton has a history of lying and overturning her position on major policy positions. No words can do the following chart justice:
The majority of flip-flops on Clinton’s part have come since she left Obama’s Cabinet in 2013, while as Secretary of State she could have been much more productive if she had adopted some of her positions earlier. For example, her opposition to the Iraq war only came after US troops had left in 2011. Furthermore, her support for lifting the Cuban embargo came only in 2015. This has been one of Obama’s top foreign policy directives and has been wholeheartedly endorsed by the Democratic Party. Had Clinton acted in this manner much earlier in 2009 rather than following the bully-boy tactics of past US politicians towards Cuba, much more progress could have been made in negotiations before John Kerry became Secretary of State.
Her enthusiasm to adopt this neoconservative position towards Cuba doesn’t just stop there. For instance, she did support the Iraq war and all subsequent US interventions she overseen as Secretary of State. This is what I mean when I earlier referred to Clinton as the eastablishment candidate of the Military-Industrial Complex. Clinton so enthusiastically supported the decision for war in Libya and for so many “liberation” pro-democracy uprisings during the Arab Spring. Clinton knew of the dangers involved, yet as Secretary of State did not seek to return home the American diplomats killed in Libya, killed by extremists exploiting the vacuum left by pro-American revolutionaries, or seek to calm the situation until it was too late. The spinoff has been 5 years of horrific conflict throughout the Middle East, with the USA backing rebels all over the region. The obvious result of mass civil war and anarchy is human suffering with the biggest refugee crisis since the 1940s, while the arms contractors in the USA revel at their mass profits. Clinton began supporting arming these groups as Secretary of State, and no agreements seem to be able to be reached to end these conflicts.
The differences between Clinton and Sanders in the Democratic primaries were so large, it is justifiably hard for Sanders supporters to embrace Clinton as the Democratic nominee for the aforementioned reasons. Even compared to Donald Trump, Clinton can be seen as a sort of maverick to claw back what the American establishment has been losing, which is a genuine shot at the Presidency; Sanders narrowly missed out for the Democrats, while establishment Republicans were slaughtered in the early Republican primaries. Clinton is a candidate who looks so fantastic on the outside when everything is taken at face value, but when we examine the consequences of her policies and her seemingly populist shifts, then she is a conflicting figure for liberal voters.