Goliath has won, now what?

Goliath has won.  Barring something truly extraordinary or tragedy, the Democratic presidential nominee will not be Bernie Sanders.  Not only does Hillary Clinton have a nearly unassailable advantage in pledged delegates and the support of the vast majority of super delegates, she is ahead in the few states which still haven’t held primaries and which she needn’t win in any event.  Under these circumstances, it does not behoove progressives to engage in magical thinking.

Federal agents are not going to frog-march Hillary Clinton out of her Brooklyn campaign headquarters for maintaining classified materials on a private email server contrary to federal regulations.  Likewise, rich and influential Democratic establishment delegates, are not going to switch en masse to the socialist because polls show he does better against each Republican candidate in hypothetical matchups.

It is easy to see why progressive Democrats would cling to the belief that the “dishonest thin-skinned, private, controlling, . . . distrustful, . . . lawyerly, and shifty” choice of investment bankers, military contractors, and perhaps even Charles Koch couldn’t – just couldn’t – head our party’s ticket.  But she will.

Clinton will not be charged with any crimes associated with the classified materials that turned up on her home-brewed email server in Chappaqua for several reasons.  Most importantly, she shouldn’t be.  Although Clinton violated federal regulations, probably due to a secretive Nixonian nature and a careless disregard for the rules, it does not appear she deliberately broke any criminal laws.  To my knowledge, individuals accused of negligent mishandling of materials classified after the fact have never been charged criminally.

President Barack Obama has made clear that Clinton is his first choice to lead the nation when he steps down in January.  Given her ties to Wall Street and the Clintons, Attorney General Loretta Lynch knows she is far more likely to become the first African-American woman to sit on the Supreme Court it if she chooses not to prosecute the former First Lady.  Under these circumstances and given the extremely weak (at best) criminal case against Clinton, it beggars belief to think Obama and Lynch will prosecute.

It is even less likely that the establishment delegates, whom Sanders supporters have slammed for months, will reject a candidate with whom they share a close class affinity and who, not incidentally, has racked up many more votes in the Democratic primaries.  Doing so would alienate two core Democratic constituencies – voters of color and seniors – who overwhelmingly support Clinton.  It might well therefore reduce Democratic chances to keep the White House, take the Senate, and erode the Republican advantage in the House.

So what should Sanders supporters do?  If we live in a state that hasn’t yet held its primary, we should of course vote for our candidate.  The narrower Clinton’s margin of victory the more likely she will make meaningful concessions to the progressive left in the run-up to the general election.  But we must also reflect on how best to bring about the political revolution we need to ensure economic and environmental justice after her inevitable nomination this July.

When it comes to the top of the ticket in November, a vote for Clinton will likely be the only rational move.  A major factor behind our nation’s self-destructive embrace of economic liberalism has been the Supreme Court’s systematic dismantling of campaign finance rules starting in the mid-1970s with the Buckley v. Valeo decision and culminating with the disastrous Citizens United ruling in 2010.  Given Antonin Scalia’s salutary death earlier this year, a Clinton appointment or two might well lead the Supreme Court to repeal Citizens United.  Such a development could create a fertile environment for a populist movement that sweeps the land over the next few years.  But it will only happen if a Democrat is in the White House next year.

There are at least two other reasons to vote for Clinton.  The obvious one is her Republican opponents.  At this writing, the odds favor a Donald Trump Hillary Clinton match up.  Trump can claim some populist bona fides, he turned against the Iraq war long before Clinton did and he is much less equivocal in his opposition to “free trade”.  Still, his long and ugly history of racist, sexist, and otherwise irresponsible rhetoric and an absence of any government experience render him wholly unqualified.  Ted Cruz would probably be an even worse president than Trump.  John Kasich may seem somewhat refreshing, due to his mature temperament, but his views are only slightly less extreme than those of the average Republican.

The third reason to vote for Clinton is there’s some reason to believe she’d be a more liberal president than her record suggests.  The Atlantic argues she was to Bill Clinton’s left on economic matters in the 1990s.  Others claim her relentless hawkishness results from her recognition that as a woman she can’t be seen as “soft” on national defense.  If she becomes president, perhaps she’ll feel liberated from self-imposed constraints necessitated by relentless fund-raising from and gladhanding with neocons and neoliberals.  While I wouldn’t bet on it, it’s just possible a “progressive who gets things done” butterfly rather than a “kinda moderate“centrist moth will emerge next year in the oval office.

Danny Cardwell “the Thought Wrestler” chides (unfairly in my view) Sanders supporters for  not “doing the hard work necessary to shape their [local] communities [in the mistaken belief that] electing Bernie will free them from their social responsibilities.”  The critique misses the mark because 1) it knocks millions of people who devoted countless hours to the Sanders campaign for not doing even more, 2) it suggests Bernie’s backers bear the burden of bringing about social change, 3) it ignores how tantalizingly close progressives came against all odds to defeating the plutocrats’ choice.

Still, Danny raises a crucial point and suggests a way forward.  We on the left do need to be attuned to every local tax initiative, school board race, and zoning commission decision.  We must organize to promote positive change and stymie regressive actions whenever and wherever possible.  By working together successfully on a local level, we can bridge the seemingly unbridgeable racial, ethnic, and gender gaps the one percent exploits viciously in every election to keep poor, working, and middle-income people at each others’ throats.  Once we unite we will defeat the still ascendant investment bankers, military contractors, and fossil fuel companies.

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6 Responses to Goliath has won, now what?

  1. Shade says:

    “To my knowledge, individuals accused of negligent mishandling of materials classified after the fact have never been charged criminally.”

    While I believe your statement is true, I also believe that never in the past has there been an individual that came even close to exclusively using their personal email server (in lieu of a govt provided secure one) for what inevitably would later be deemed as “confidential” information. HC made no attempt to exercise her legally required discretion in this matter; her actions virtually guaranteed that her server would house confidential info illegally placed & retained there. In fact, the only reason why a good number of the emails HC authored were not marked “confidential” is because HC broke the law & failed to mark them as such “the day they were born”.

    HC pushed the limits to the extreme. Knowing the Clinton’s history, her legal & political background, and recognizing her extraordinary intelligence, I will not give HC the benefit of the doubt in this matter. While in part HC’s actions I’m sure were just an understandable desire to maintain personal privacy, in large part I also believe HC’s actions were designed to thwart FOIA requests & to hide Clinton Foundation activities that just happened to intersect HC’s DOS activities that were also conducted on this server (and on the one used exclusively for the foundation that was housed right beside it). If any such wrongdoing can be proven, if “confidential” leaks can be proven, if HC can be caught in a lie to the FBI, etc., etc., then I think HC has exposed herself to some type of serious legal & political consequence (though probably not jail). Look for Hillary’s candidacy to fall apart if her cohorts start finding it necessary to take the 5th & accept immunity when the FBI interviews them, an outcome that I believe remains extremely likely.

    I actually believe HC means well for the country. However unlike Bernie, she puts her own family’s political power & economic well-being first. Trump calls Hillary “crooked”, the term I would use is “corrupt”. Trump is going to slaughter HC on this issue, and if he doesn’t, other Republicans with serious power will have 4-8 years to do so afterwards. Thus any Hillary Presidency will be rendered impotent. We had better pray to God HC’s campaign falls apart before it is too late for Bernie, because we as Liberals/Progressives are not going to like where this situation is otherwise heading. Dems need to get our heads out of our orifices on this matter. Hopefully the FBI will help open our eyes timely.

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  3. Pat says:

    Good piece, Hal. I’m glad that, despite your strong support of Sanders, you haven’t fallen for the “Bernie or Bust” nonsense.

    • Larry Freitas says:

      I’ve posted on TruthOut about that. Voting for Stein is stupidity. Voting for Trump out of spite is even more stupid. Clinton at the worst would just have the status quo, as in more Rethuglican obstruction of anything, the House would probably remain R anyway, so no bills would come out of there except more repeals of Obamacare; and she’d be able to pick a justice or two on the SC, and they’d not be clones of Scalia or Alito. Wars in the Middle East would continue, but unless there’s another draft, as in Vietnam, not too many Americans are going to gripe. Less than 1% of Americans have served in Afghanistan or Iraq. To conclude, the last time America suffered from the triumvirate of a Rethug House, Senate, and POTUS, we got two unnecessary tax cuts, two unfunded wars, Medicare Part D, the Senate and Congress spent and borrowed like drunk sailors on shore leave; and absolutely nothing was done regarding the environment, and regulatory agencies were directed by foxes guarding the hen houses. NO THANK YOU TO THAT EVER AGAIN, NOT IN MY LIFETIME! Even a Clinton POTUS beats W and his rubber stamp Rethuglican Congress that put this nation into the financial crises of ’07 and ’08.

  4. Larry Freitas says:

    Regarding the Koch Brothers, Clinton has said she’s against raising taxes, at all. Sanders says he would raise taxes, on everyone really, but of course the rich would get higher rates, possibly much higher, and he’d close loopholes as well. If Clinton wants any sort of improvement of social programs and more regulation from regulatory agencies, taxes would have to be raised to have more revenue to do that. Clinton’s math is off, not Sanders.
    Is Clinton for a stock market transaction tax? I don’t think so, not that I’ve heard. That tax in and of itself could raise much money, and also, at the same time, keep investors from making too many risky speculative sales of stock, having them think more in terms of investing for the long term as opposed to the short term for a quick return.

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