Fri, Mar

The Donald and The Clintons: This Madness Has to Stop


EASTSIDER- For me, the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump goes way beyond the “lesser of two evils.” In fact, this is how we wound up with Hillary and Donald in the first place. We’ve had too many years of those kinds of choices. Somehow this madness has to stop. 

I think that a lot of my fellow progressives quietly agree with me, but are afraid to be brutally honest. They worry about getting spammed and flamed all over the internet. Yes, that’s how Hillary plays the game. And maybe I could get drummed out of the Northeast Dems, but … oh well, here goes. 

As a lifetime Dem, I voted for Bill Clinton and even gave him money, he talked so pretty. Silly me. In return, I got GATT and NAFTA, and "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It should also be noted that President Bill Clinton is the guy that put the wooden stake through the heart of the Glass-Steagal Act that protected us from the financial services industry after the Great Depression. 

While I know that Hillary is not Bill, she has made it clear that she views him as her economic and jobs “go to guy.” Goody. 

Then of course, there’s The Donald. The idea of voting for Donald Trump is pretty simple for me. I simply substitute the name P.T. Barnum for Donald Trump and the parallels are eerie. For those of you who may not remember, P.T. was a showman and promoter (of some hoaxes, as well as the Barnum & Bailey circus.) He was also a Connecticut Republican politician who has been (incorrectly) credited with coining the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Clearly, he was in it for the bucks. 

If you substitute real estate developer for showman, the business and ego traits of both are pretty similar. The biggest difference seems to be that The Donald has tapped into the overwhelming anger and disgust people have for both political parties that merrily sell us out in Washington without a qualm. PT was simply in it for the glory and the bucks, up front. 

Hillary Clinton is harder to characterize with a sound bite. There are so many Hillary Clintons that it’s hard to find a core beyond her incredible lust to become President of the United States. Evidently at any cost. 

What we do know is that the rhetoric of the Clinton Campaign evades the truth about anything Clinton…like the fact that she’s a card-carrying member of the 1/2 of the One Percent (via the Clinton Foundation). She is owned by Wall Street, as Bernie Sanders correctly pointed out during the primary. So is Bill and so is their daughter, who is on the Clinton Foundation Board and is married to a Hedge Fund investment banker. 

Hillary is also very hawkish for a Democrat, from the Iraq war forward. As it relates to Israel, she might as well be on the staff of Prime Minister Netanyahu. 

Finally, as I wrote some time ago in a CityWatch article, “While I’m at it, I have absolutely no idea what Hillary Clinton actually stands for -- there have been so many “nuances” and “pivots” and “shifting stances” between the primaries and the general election as reported by the 200 channels of electronic media. It makes my head hurt. Again, it may be true that this is “smart politics” like the pundits say, and proof of her political abilities, but what does it say about our electoral politics?” 

So these are the two candidates for President of the United States. 

A Third Way and Why--Somewhere in all this, “the lesser of two evils” loses all meaning for me. While I can understand why Bernie Sanders, a lifetime elected official, chose to live up to his pledge to support the Democratic candidate, I do not feel similarly obligated. 

I think the two visions of America represented by both candidates are too flawed for sale. Whether it’s Hillary letting Wall Street suck the last money out of our pockets until they tank the entire financial services industry again, or The Donald, who, like all real estate developers, seems to want to subdivide us into easily digestible pieces, we are faced with Hobbesian choices that don’t interest me. 

Here is what’s important to me about politics: Politicians are supposed to ensure that everyone in our society has a legitimate shot at a job if they want to work. Historically, that’s been a myth for our elected officials, this “underpinning” of the so-called social contract between the state and the governed. It’s the hype we have all been fed up through the 80’s. 

Well, it’s simply not true anymore. Huge swaths of our population can’t get any job, at all. Older people are routinely dumped in the wastebasket, never getting a call back or even an interview; and those convicted of almost any crime (other than snorting coke in Wall Street) have their resumes dumped in the same wastebasket. It’s the same for those less educated, the same for “people of color,” and the list goes on and on. If you go to Kings County in California’s Central Valley, the unemployment rate for working age white guys is over 50%!  

In addition to the money, which may or may not be enough to get by on, jobs offer a sense of self-worth, security and inherent pride. 

Back in the 60’s in Watts, another social worker and I ran some off-the-books group sessions for folks on General Relief. “Off the books” because the Welfare Department was absolutely uninterested in such ideas. The overwhelming majority of these people felt alone, isolated, believing that no one understood their circumstances. It was a total bummer. But in a group, they could share with each other and find out they were not alone. 

We went over basic skills like how to regularly get up on a schedule and how to arrive at a specific place, on time, each day. This is how beaten down people were. But we hustled some local employers and achieved over a 50% success rate in helping many of them get off General Relief. And once off, they tended to stay off. 

So, after then-president Bill Clinton went on TV to tell us there’d be no more “guaranteed jobs” -- that we would have to work for a number of different employers and constantly upgrade our “job skills” (whatever that meant) -- there really are no job guarantees. Period. 

Except, of course, for the professional political class, their hangers-on and the one-dollar-one-vote billionaires who own all of them. 

Well that just sucks. I have no sympathy for either political party or the politicians who dance to their tunes. It is they, not us, who have created the current “no job, no hope” class of Americans. And, as for the new “gig economy” that’s available for younger people, who can only look forward to intermittent employment, high rents, and permanent uncertainty, it’s no better. 

The Takeaway--For what it’s worth, I am supporting the national progressive candidates that Bernie endorsed -- and giving them money. Especially Tim Canova in Florida, who I pray will displace the toxic Debbie Wasserman Schultz once and for all. She can go back to fronting for PayDay Loans. 

And, no surprise here … I’m voting for Jill Stein.  

Something has to change and it has to be from the bottom up. It all starts with electing real, honest, progressive Democrats (or even Republicans, if there is such a thing.) Or how about an honest Green Party Candidate? You know, people who will really vote against the 1/2 of 1% who run the country. 

On the other hand, Hillary would be the first woman president... 

(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.