By Anthony Cody.
The Democratic National Convention has been painful to watch. In the days prior, we had the revelation of emails which demonstrated what Sanders supporters had felt throughout the primary – that the DNC was biased towards Clinton, and was acting to enhance her candidacy despite their claims of neutrality. Most significantly, as Matt Taibbi explains here, Clinton was using the apparatus of the DNC to extract money from wealthy donors in amounts up to $353,400 each. This allowed the Clinton campaign to stay competitive at a time when Sanders was buoyed by millions of small donations.
But Sanders took the stage Monday night and guided us towards candidate Clinton in spite of this. It is a bitter pill to swallow – to see someone cheat in a contest and be awarded the prize nonetheless. But as Sanders pointed out, this is the world we live in. The job of creating a better one still lies before us.
We are seeing great attention paid to the misdeeds and corruption of Donald J. Trump, and that is as it should be. We have learned of his past as a discriminatory landlord. We know about the fraudulent Trump University. And most of all, we know he has run a campaign fueled by xenophobia and racism. He is a truly frightening authoritarian who could cause great harm.
There are several different ways to support Clinton’s candidacy. One would be to downplay or smooth over the corruption of the DNC and our political and economic system, and act as though this is normal and thus even acceptable. I cannot do that.
Presidential elections are referenda on who we are as a nation. This is an opportunity to raise up to scrutiny all sorts of concerns that are too often ignored. How have the trade policies of the last few administrations affected the working class in our nation? What effect has NAFTA had? Clinton and Kaine supported, but now tepidly oppose the TPP. Will Clinton maintain this opposition if elected? Or find a way to “fix it” and get it passed as some have suggested. In the past, voters have not understood the significance of these corporate trade deals. Thanks to the Sanders campaign, this is much better understood. Clinton and the corporate Democrats cannot be allowed to sneak this by this time.
In the area of foreign policy, we need a much better understanding of what is at stake. Of course Trump’s wall is lunacy. But Clinton’s record in Latin America should not be ignored. Neo-colonial domination of Central and South America has been a bi-partisan project stretching back decades. This election is a chance to spread understanding of this, even if it is not helpful to candidate Clinton.
On issues of racial justice, the Clintons have a troubling history. As Michelle Alexander revealed, the Clintons’ role in abolishing welfare and expanding our incarceration nation must be remembered. We cannot, in good conscience, allow this to continue.
How will education reform be handled by a Clinton administration? We know that big money held sway over education policy under President Obama. Candidate Clinton has been vague and inconsistent, offering both criticism and praise for charter schools and high stakes tests. Tim Kaine has shown a better understanding of education issues. But in 2008, many of us thought that Obama would be better than George W. Bush on education, especially with Linda Darling-Hammond advising him. But then the hedge fund money talked, Darling-Hammond walked, and we got seven years of Arne Duncan. So the only thing that will keep Clinton from going the way Obama went is intense grassroots pressure.
All of this brings us to the great challenge this election presents to us. We have a balancing act to perform. While I plan to vote for Clinton, we cannot simply “get on board” the DNC campaign train. We cannot unsee the corruption, the deep flaws in Clinton and her corporate allies. There IS something wrong with taking big money for speeches from Wall Street financiers, especially when they invite you back time after time – and you refuse to share what you told them.
We must continue to uncover the corruption of both corporate Democrats and corporate Republicans. If grassroots organizing can reclaim the Democratic Party so it fights for working people, then that would be excellent. Such a reclamation is under way over in Britain right now and is worth watching. If corporate Democratic Party leadership clings to power and will not allow this to happen, then a third party alternative should be strengthened. I respect those who have already made this leap, but I cannot do so while Trump looms. I have joined Bernie Sanders effort to continue his political revolution and defeat Donald Trump, and look forward to the continued growth of this movement.
What do you think?