Clinton’s Vice President: A Match Made on Wall Street

May 31, 2016 at 5:58 PM

hillary-clinton

Earlier this week, Bernie Sanders warned that Hillary Clinton’s eventual vice presidential pick must not be someone from the milieu of Wall Street and Corporate America. And while Sanders is still fighting to win the Democratic Party nomination in what many have argued is a rigged system with a foregone conclusion, it appears that Sanders is also intent on influencing the course of the Clinton campaign and the party itself.

In a thinly veiled demand that Clinton embrace the core principles of the Sanders campaign in order to secure the support of Sanders’s political base, the insurgent Democratic candidate hoped aloud “that the vice-presidential candidate will not be from Wall Street, will be somebody who has a history of standing up and fighting for working families, taking on the drug companies…taking on Wall Street, taking on corporate America, and fighting for a government that works for all of us, not just the 1%.”

And while that description may sound positive for its sheer idealism, it does not seem to account for the fact that banks and corporations effectively own both major parties, and that nearly every top Democrat is in various ways connected to the very same entities. In any event, it is useful still to examine a few of the potential Clinton running mates in order to assess just what sort of forces are going to be put in motion to help deliver a Clinton presidency.

The Actors on the Playbill

Beltway pundits are fond of remarking that Tim Kaine, the underwhelming centrist Democrat senator (and former Governor) from Virginia, is at the top of the list for Clinton. He’s safe. He’s experienced. He’s safe. He’s a Democratic Party loyalist with experience fundraising. Oh, and did I mention that he’s safe? Such is the general tenor of the conversation around Kaine, a politician with a long track record and a mostly forgettable personality known more to DC insiders than to the general voting public.

What could be better for Hillary Clinton, perhaps the least liked Democratic (presumptive) nominee in decades, than to have a party establishment insider who represents the status quo as her running mate in an election year that will undoubtedly be remembered for the ostensibly anti-establishment candidates and rhetoric on display throughout?

To be fair, Kaine does represent Virginia, a swing state that is crucial for Donald Trump, and which could spell victory for Clinton should she carry it.  And of course, Kaine can also posture as “tough on Wall Street” from his days as DNC Chairman and party mouthpiece during the passage of the so-called “Wall Street reform” bill.  Despite nothing substantive coming out of the bill, Kaine is still able to cash in the political currency derived from that bill, and perhaps meekly shield Clinton from continued attacks vis-à-vis her connections to Wall Street.

Of course Kaine also comes with his own baggage, including his anti-abortion stance which earned him the ire of many pro-choice activists in Virginia when he was Governor.  Considering the shameless droning from Clinton and her backers about being “the first woman president,” it would certainly raise serious questions – and open up an obvious angle of attack for Trump – were she to sport her feminism and focus on women’s reproductive rights by selecting a man with an anti-abortion record.

A look down the list of other potential choices reveals that Clinton truly has very little to choose from.  Both Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro, as well as Labor Secretary Tom Perez, have both had their names bandied around as Clinton seeks to solidify the Latino vote in an election where the Republican candidate has worked tirelessly to alienate that all-important demographic as much as possible.  But of course, the obvious question to be asked in response to either of these potential selections would be “Who?” Neither Castro nor Perez is well known nationally, nor have either of them won major elections or really done anything of note in their tenure in Obama’s cabinet.  Despite being Latinos, they are utterly forgettable, and unlikely to bring significant returns to Clinton.

While other names such as New Jersey junior senator Cory Booker, as well as Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, have been discussed, both men hail from states with Republican governors, meaning that were they to accept a VP slot, their senate vacancies would be likely filled by Republicans, a scenario that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has already said “Hell no!” to, vowing to “yell and scream to stop that.”

Who Else Is “Ready for Hillary”?

So that then leaves the two most interesting potential running mates: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders himself. Warren, who conspicuously refused to endorse Clinton over Sanders, has tremendous upside for Clinton as she has been perhaps the Democratic Party’s most vehement opponent of Wall Street, having led many high profile attacks on the major banks in her tenure in the Senate.  From a public relations branding perspective, she is essentially the female Bernie Sanders, a progressive Democrat who presents herself as an ally of working people and an enemy of bankers. For Clinton, Warren would also round out the “First Woman…” card, allowing the Clinton campaign to quite literally become a campaign about breaking the glass ceiling in US politics. The stump speeches almost write themselves.

Finally, there’s Mr. #FeelTheBern himself. His latest comments (mentioned above) certainly do have a subtext that implies his willingness to accept a running mate slot.  Having fashioned himself as the champion of the middle class and threat to the Washington establishment, Bernie would provide much in the way of credibility to a lackluster Clinton campaign which has failed to excite even many ardent Democrats.  Sanders would also guarantee a unified Democratic Party ticket, and provide much needed defense of Clinton’s left flank.  In short, Sanders, like Warren, would give anti-Clinton progressives the pretext many of them need to justify their voting for the much-hated Clinton.

Never mind the fact that neither Sanders nor Warren would actually do anything to combat Wall Street finance capital as Vice President.  Never mind the fact that no one on Wall Street is particularly scared of either politician being given the ceremonial power that comes with the Vice Presidency.  These are just the kind of uncomfortable, but inescapable, facts that progressives must choose to ignore.

The difficulty for either Sanders or Warren is the marketing of their decision to left progressives, some of whom would see collaboration with Clinton and the Clinton political machine as a betrayal and a complete sell-out.  However, aside from driving a some relatively small number of progressives to vote for Jill Stein and the Green Party (or stay home entirely), it is unlikely that the negative impact in the progressive base would amount to anything more than some hurt feelings followed by the usual acquiescence to the Democratic Party line.

If such an analysis sounds cynical and jaded, that’s because it is. Perhaps a better descriptor would be disdainful.  Indeed, as someone who watched with bemused melancholy as progressives lined up to support Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, my position on support for ANY Democrat is the same as Harry Reid’s position on swing state senator VP picks: Hell no!

Indeed, the very notion of collaboration with a war criminal and Wall Street puppet such as Clinton is anathema to everything the left and “progressives” are supposed to stand for.

Of course, there is also the elephant (and donkey) in the room: both major parties are wholly owned subsidiaries of finance capital and the corporations that rule over us. This is the realization that millions of Americans have already made, and which millions more are making.  This is the realization that keeps Democratic and Republican apparatchiks up at night.  And this critical revelation is what Bernie, Liz, & Co. are there to suppress.

The G7 Summit, Refugees, and the Precarious Politics of Europe

May 27, 2016 at 10:09 AM

Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (May 26, 2016) on the G7 meeting in Japan, and the issues being discussed. Draitser questions the continued relevance of the G7, and what its purpose actually is. He examines the refugee crisis and how that has impacted European politics, particularly in Germany. He also examines the larger geostrategic situation vis-a-vis Russia, the US and Europe.

Venezuela: Hope, Not a Threat (Left Forum, NYC – May 21, 2016)

May 27, 2016 at 10:08 AM

Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org speaks at Left Forum in NYC (May 21, 2016) about the current situaiton in Venezuela, and the political, economic, and geopolitical context necessary for understanding what’s happening there. Draitser provides insights from his time in venezuela during the December 2015 elections, as well as giving a detailed analysis of the causes of the current crisis. He also examines what’s at stake, the centrality of Venezuela to the anti-imperialist struggle and the movement to build socialism, and much much more.

Is the ‘Progressive Cycle’ Over in Latin America?

May 27, 2016 at 10:08 AM

Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org gives a talk at Left Forum in NYC (May 22, 2016) to answer the question of whether the “progressive cycle” is over in Latin America. Draitser argues that political observers and leftists should separate the leftist governments of Latin America from the ideological orientation of the masses of working and poor people in the region. He provides examples of how Wall Street and neoliberal finance capital have reasserted their control over Latin America, but are unable to divorce the people from their commitment to socialism and anti-imperialism. Lots of information and analysis presented in this roughly 20 minute presentation.

Hillary Clinton and the DNC: A Criminal Collaboration?

May 25, 2016 at 5:52 PM

hillary wall street

The corporate media is inundated with news stories about how Hillary Clinton has actually fallen behind Donald Trump in polls anticipating the general election in November.  And while this fact is not in itself particularly interesting, the response from Clinton and her media sycophants is certainly provocative, if unsurprising.  These Democratic party apparatchiks and their media partners have already begun an offensive against Bernie Sanders, and left-progressives generally, blaming them for Clinton’s drop in the polls because of their refusal to unite behind Clinton.

But while these continued attacks on Sanders and progressive democrats have done nothing to motivate the progressive base to back Hillary – if anything they have served to radicalize them against Clinton – they are only part of a much larger problem facing the Democratic Party: a crisis of legitimacy.

Indeed, the one thing that is guaranteed is that this primary season has utterly exposed the transparently corrupt Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee (DNC), and its leadership, including DNC Chairwoman and Clinton-backer Debbie Wasserman Schultz. From allegations of voter fraud and illegal purging of registration rolls, to media bias and deviation from electoral norms, millions of progressives now correctly view the Democratic Party as being a wholly owned subsidiary of Clinton Inc.  This accounts for the proliferation of the #NeverHillary phenomenon on social media, and the continued decline of Clinton in the polls.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has come under fire for her obvious pro-Hillary bias, so much so that Democratic Party insiders are seriously considering removing her from her post in advance of what could be a contentious convention in Philadelphia this summer. According to The Hill, one pro-Clinton democratic senator said that, “There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on… I don’t see how she can continue to the election. How can she open the convention? Sanders supporters would go nuts.”

The fact is that Sanders supporters would have every right to go nuts as Wasserman Schultz is universally recognized as one of the Hillary loyalists whose career is tied directly to Clinton.  It should be remembered that Wasserman Schultz was the Co-Chair of Clinton’s presidential bid in 2008.  Many now view her as having been the de facto Chair for Hillary this time around, only in a much more influential role as the DNC Chairwoman.

As only one of many examples, Wasserman Schultz wields an undue amount of influence over the infamous superdelegates which have, in no small part, all but guaranteed Clinton the nomination irrespective of voters’ wishes.  Indeed, the majority of the superdelegates are in fact DNC members, with Wasserman Schultz at the head.  As the New York Times put it, the superdelegates are “party bigwigs—712 Democratic leaders, legislators, governors, and the like.”

But of course it’s not simply Wasserman Schultz alone, but rather the interconnected web of Clinton cronies and assorted shills in powerful positions all over the country who have, through their bias (and in some cases, criminality) done the most to delegitimize the party itself.  There was of course the primary debacle in Arizona where even the Secretary of State admitted that fraud had taken place on a large scale in her state.

Most recently in Kentucky, a hotly contested state where Sanders allegedly lost by slimmest of margins, we saw the Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, for whom Hillary Clinton campaigned in 2014, recently derisively say on national television that there would be “no revolution here for Sanders.”  And oh, by the way, as Secretary of State, Grimes was responsible for vote counting in a state where irregularities and a very slim margin of victory cast doubt on the validity of the results.

And then of course, there’s the now infamous incidents at the Nevada Democratic Party convention where Sanders delegates were stripped of their standing, normal convention procedures ignored, and a pre-ordained outcome – Clinton’s victory – was effected masterfully. Never mind the fact that the party refused to allow 64 Sanders delegates entry to the convention where all of a sudden Clinton had a 31 delegate lead over Sanders. Never mind the fact that Roberta Lange, chairing the convention, railroaded through a voice vote to disregard the results of the second tier of Nevada’s three-tier process which Bernie Sanders won, and that the voice vote was held before all the delegates were even present.  Never mind that suddenly the rules under which the primary had been conducted were inexplicably changed to give Clinton a path to victory.  All this points to an obvious attempt by party bosses to manufacture victories for Clinton.

One could point to a number of other examples such as the bizarre, and thoroughly unbelievable, coin toss results in Iowa where Hillary Clinton won 6 straight coin tosses to hand her the victory.  Or how about the highly irregular decision by the major television networks to cancel plans for exit polls for primaries in New Jersey and California, among other states? Considering the fact that exit polls have proved to be an important barometer in measuring potential voter fraud, it seems highly irresponsible, if not downright suspicious, that a primary as rich in delegates as California, where Sanders has been doing rather well, would not have exit polling.  One could be forgiven for assuming that this is yet another ploy by the Clinton machine and its partners in the corporate media to steal yet another primary.

And of course one would be remiss for not mentioning the blatantly unethical, and likely illegal, donations from foreign governments that Clinton has received via her foundation-cum-money laundering operation the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and its Clinton Global Initiative.  Couple that with the exorbitant speaking fees pocketed from her pandering speeches to Goldman Sachs and the other lords of finance capital on Wall Street, and one is left with a picture of obvious corruption and criminality that should give anyone pause when considering a potential Clinton presidency.

And I haven’t even mentioned the email scandal which just entered a new phase as the State Department’s Inspector General report has revealed that “Clinton’s use of private email for public business was ‘not an appropriate method’ of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed.”

In short, Clinton and the Democratic Party have been shown to be what many of us on the left have long since known: a corporate party dominated by a small clique of politically influential Clinton cronies whose loyalties are to the Clintons and their paymasters on Wall Street, not to Democratic voters or the American people.

And while Sanders has likely been cheated out of a potential nomination, his campaign has made at least one lasting impact: it has exposed Clinton and her criminal gang to a whole new generation of young progressives.  What will they do with this knowledge?  One must look to Philadelphia this summer for what might become a convention remembered less for what happens inside than the direct action and protest outside.

But in the longer term, the Democrats may have scored a pyrrhic victory in all this.  Because even once progressives no longer #FeelTheBern, the Democratic Party tent may still be on fire.