Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The "Settle for Hillary" conundrum

Hillary Clinton received an odd endorsement from Tom Hayden. It comes in this article, I Used to Support Bernie, but Then I Changed My Mind The Nation 04/12/2016.

It's almost a case of damning by faint praise. He sort of says, I prefer Bernie, but I'm endorsing Hillary because I'm thinking about the SDS split in 1969. Or something.

His approach pretty much comes down to the Clinton campaign's basic message in the primaries:

Somehow I'm thinking Hillary's campaign won't be asking to Tom to campaign for her:

There are two Hillary Clintons. First, the early feminist, champion of children’s rights, and chair of the Children’s Defense Fund; and second, the Hillary who has grown more hawkish and prone to seeking “win-win” solutions with corporate America. When she seems to tack back towards her roots, it is usually in response to Bernie and new social movements. She hasn’t changed as much as the Democratic Party has, responding to new and resurgent movements demanding Wall Street reform, police and prison reform, immigrant rights and a $15-an-hour minimum wage, fair trade, action on climate change, LGBT rights, and more.

The peace movements from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, too, are a living legacy that fuels the public majority against sending ground troops into the fiery jaws of war another time. Bernie voted for the war in Afghanistan, but correctly faults Hillary for her hawkish impulse towards regime change. We are likely to live under a what amounts to a war presidency until either a new catastrophe or new movement leads to an alternative to the “Long War” on terrorism.
I usually find what Tom Hayden says worth listening to. And that's why I'm paying attention to this. But this argument strikes me as odd. It really sounds like he's just tired of thinking about the primary campaign and wants it to end. Which is kind of the Hillary camp's position, too.

Charlie Pierce reminds us of what worries many Democratic base voters about the idea of another Clinton Presidency (The Clintons Can Have Their Own Opinions, But They Can't Have Their Own History Esquire Politics Blog 04/13/2016):

Since we're going to be arguing about it for a while, let us stipulate that when Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime and Control Act in 1994 he did not single-handedly launch the destructive effects of mass incarceration and racial disparity in our legal system. What he did was put a conservative Democratic gloss on a process that began in the modern era with Lyndon Johnson's Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act in 1968, and that accelerated with Ronald Reagan's Omnibus Crime Bill in 1984. But that very fact clinches the case that the current critics of the 1994 bill — which Clinton himself has admitted was a mistake — are trying to make against it. It was one piece of a decades-old bipartisan "anti-crime" crusade that turned into an unthinking beast in our democracy, the damage from which fell most harshly on racial minorities, especially African Americans. It doesn't lessen the culpability of Clinton's bill that it was part of a 30-year effort that came to what are now seen as inevitably destructive conclusions. It amplifies it.

Let us also stipulate, because we are not five years old, that there were more than a few triangulated political motives for Clinton's having signed the bill. After all, his administration was a triumph for the politics of the Democratic Leadership Council, the famously business-friendly conservative Democratic operation that rose to power first as an opposition force to the New Deal liberalism of people like George McGovern and Walter Mondale, and then evolved into an opposition force to the new progressive coalition that had lined up behind Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988. (Jackson memorably once cracked that DLC stood for "Democrats for the Leisure Class.") By the time Clinton came around to run for president, the DLC was dedicated to protecting the victories it had won over McGovern and Mondale against the forces within the party that Jackson's campaigns had empowered. Clinton, because he once was a brilliant politician, managed to keep both of these horses in harness, but there was no doubt where his policy heart lay — hence, the crime bill, which did not launch the era of mass incarceration, but added to it immeasurably. [my emphasis]

No comments: