Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016 Presidential campaign
Politics and Advocacy

Sorry, Democrats, Hillary Clinton is Not a Progressive


What kind of President would Hillary Clinton be? According to her record, she has consistently favored big business, multinational billionaires and the national security state, at the expense of the “everyday Americans” she claims to champion. Not in the least progressive.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016 Presidential campaign
Powerful and popular Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is now moving to the left facing massive problems in the country and a disenfranchised electorate, but her record speaks to more of the same as her predecessors. Photo By Elaine Thompson/AP

Better Than Bush? Not By Much.

Many Democratic voters assert that former First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered more liberal, open minded, and intelligent than all potential Republicans, is progressive enough to get their vote for President. The first woman at this point favored to get the Democratic nomination, she aims to shatter the glass ceiling on the highest office in the US, a decided step forward for our humanity.

Yet, one must look critically at what kind of President she would be. From this vantage, she would at best be similar to her husband Bill and predecessor Barack, a center-right, corporate Democrat who talks about equality, women’s issues, environmental protection, getting money out of politics and promoting peace, but votes generally with her funders: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Military Industrial Complex.

More War and Less Peace

Hillary Clinton supported sanctions against Iraq and voted for the (permanent) war in 2001 that killed hundreds of thousands, and has backed the continuation of the policy and funding for a decade and almost a half. Clinton has given the blank check to the US to wage so far permanent war against Afghanistan, and presided over the expansion of illegal drone attacks worldwide. She was a forceful advocate in the Obama Administration of attacks against Libya and Syria and strengthening US ties to dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, and elsewhere. She supports the national security state surveillance movement and took Edward Snowden to task for exposing the program.

A reasonable synopsis of Clinton’s record around the world comes from neoconservative policy adviser Robert Kagan, who, like Clinton, played an important role in advocating the 2003 Iraq invasion. “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Kagan told the New York Times last June.  — Jacobin Magazine

Ms. Clinton has intimated that she would have no compunction going to war with Iran, leaving “all options on the table,” — a flagrant violation of the UN Charter’s prohibition of the use of force in international relations. Of course, she puts an ‘if’ after that, but it was John Kerry who negotiated with them, not Clinton.

Clinton has given her full support to warmongering Israel and their unabated settlement building in occupied territory, and we saw how many thousands were killed last year during the illegal military invasions of Gaza resulting from US inaction. Though she was out of office by that time, she ardently defended it. She calls herself “an emphatic, unwavering supporter of Israel’s safety and security.” No mention of Palestine, other than weak notions of a two-state solution.

Hillary Clinton's debate lies

Hillary Clinton in the 2015 Democratic Presidential Debates

Foreign Policy and Trade: Interventionist, Neoliberalist

Ms. Clinton has a long record of supporting neoliberal economic policies of austerity and privatization, on the WalMart board, as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State. In the latter office she directly negotiated lucrative overseas contracts for US corporations like Boeing, Lockheed, and General Electric.

Clinton effectively supported coups against democratically-elected leaders in both Honduras and Paraguay, which have caused increases in sweatshops, mega-tourism, industrial agriculture, and fostered instability and insecurity with no end in sight. Manuel Zelaya Rosales was thrown out of Honduras in his pajamas from a US military base and Clinton could not even call it a coup. She also supported the militarized drug war model pushed on Colombia, coupled with neoliberal economic policies to other countries in the region. This includes the devastating militarization of Mexico over the past decade, that has resulted in eighty thousand or more deaths since 2006.

Haiti, as well, has suffered under Bill Clinton’s policies in the 1990s, and Hillary’s relentless State Department pushing of the sweatshop model, where she opposed minimum wage increases. Thus, the militarized response used in Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico, also went to the 2010 earthquake that facilitated the neoliberal “gold rush,” enriching a few without relieving the crushing poverty there.

US military, Haiti earthquake, Hillary Clinton
Some say sovereignty took a back seat to the US militarized response to the earthquake in Haiti, which led to a “gold mine” in rebuilding contracts and neoliberal policies led by Clinton as Secretary of State. Photo by Chad J. McNeely for the US Dept. of Defense.

Ms. Clinton has supported all recent multinational trade agreements (NAFTA, WTO, and most favored nation status for China as First Lady, but rejected CAFTA as Senator, then pushed agreements in Colombia and South Korea as Sec of State). These policies have compromised health, safety, labor and environmental standards outsourced massive number of jobs across the world.

“We want action. We want big ideas, and we want structural change. We want Raising Wages. That also means no candidate can be all things to all people and still meet this standard. Standing with working people once in a while won’t work. Candidates can’t hedge bets any longer.” — Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President

She has yet to take a stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which involves twelve Pacific countries, negotiated in secret by the Obama administration with the assistance of over six hundred corporate advisers. Progressive leaders such as Elizabeth Warren have argued that implementation of the deal would boost corporate power while making it harder to prevent another financial crisis — and for instance stop foreign corporations like TransCanada from suing to get their Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline built. Specifically, the ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) provisions, which would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. With ISDS, corporations that did not agree with say the banning of a toxic chemical could skip the US courts, and appeal to an arbitration panel of corporate lawyers, undermining US sovereignty.

A Friend to Big Oil, Wall Street and Industrial Ag

Ms. Clinton is in full support of Obama’s “All of the Above” energy policy, which means embracing the illogic of both cuts in fossil fuel emissions while supporting increases in production. As Secretary of State, she was “inclined to approve” the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline without even seeing an environmental study. She promoted fracking abroad and pushed increases in extreme, unconventional fossil fuel extraction techniques at home in the name of energy independence, an imaginary concept.

Make no mistake — Bernie Sanders isn’t really running against Hillary Clinton. He’s running against the Koch Brothers, and all that they represent: taken together they’re the richest men on earth. They’ve made their money in oil and gas (they’re the largest leaseholders in the Alberta tar sands, on the far end of the Keystone Pipeline). They spend their money to break unions, to shut out solar power, to further concentrate America’s wealth.  — Bill McKibben

Her husband’s administration killed welfare and set Wall Street barons free to plunder the world economy by repealing Glass-Steagall. These policies have increased the power of billionaires and created the conditions of oligarchy in the US. The Clinton Foundation has received piles of money from Big Oil and multinationals.

Why should we believe that Clinton would regulate the banks, increase taxes on billionaires, and take the unaccountable corporate money out of politics, when she received $200,000 speaking fees from these very same banks, $400,000 from Goldman Sachs in one six-day period alone? Mr. Obama pushed the weak Volker Rule and 2010 Dodd-Frank law, while presiding over a profit boom to Wall Street, and Clinton remained mum on the topic. Despite some recent populist rhetoric, we have yet to see her propose anything to bring the banksters who ruined the economy and raided the treasury to account for their crimes, nor to prevent the next economic depression.

Ms. Clinton has no problem with GMOs. While at a biotechnology conference in San Diego in 2014, she trumpeted her endorsement of GMO seeds as Secretary of State, telling the crowd that the term “‘genetically modified’ sounds Frankensteinish,” and thus turns people off to GMOs. “Drought resistant sounds really like something you’d want,” she said, encouraging the industry to improve their semantics. “There’s a big gap between the facts and what the perceptions are.” Her work for Monsanto’s lawyer in the 1980s and her pushing GMO seeds to other countries as Secretary of State are evidence enough of her future stand on an issue where the science does not follow Hillary’s “facts.”

Voting Conscience or Lesser Evil?

Self-proclaimed “Progressives” supporting this politician fearing a Jeb Bush or Donald Trump presidency seem sadly schizophrenic and self-defeating, especially when a genuine candidate Bernie Sanders has stepped to the fore. This knee-jerk right-wing fear had President Obama making compromises even before negotiations started, whether it be in protecting social security or regulating pipeline safety and offshore drilling. Stop surrendering before the game has even started.

Ms. Clinton would clearly be “better” in form and substance than the cavalcade of reactionary retrogressives on the Republican side. But the Green Party’s Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders are both principled candidates whose actions meet their rhetoric, promising to fix the endemic inequality and rigged rules in favor of oligarchy and commerce. Third parties and inspired candidates become the force for real change in a system that is stuck on the treadmill of corporate money buying candidates and elections.

Ralph Nader did not get George Bush elected. The Supreme Court and the State of Florida, Jeb’s Florida, made that happen. Also the profound weakness of Al Gore, who despite a good film, has not stepped up since. Let’s not allow Hillary Rodham Clinton to become another Al Gore.

Post Updated on December 22, 2015

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  1. Madge Torres

    This article covers all the topics of concern and backs them up with facts. We need to get out and support Bernie Sanders now. If we help him win the primary, he’ll win the Presidency.

  2. This author needs to finish high school and take some college level classes in political ideology. She is most certainly a progressive, although, like every other thing in the universe, there are different degrees of progressivism. It’s not a black and white issue. The spectrum runs from conservative to progressive, but it’s not a linear spectrum. Suggesting that Hillary is not progressive clearly indicates that this author does not understand neither progressive, nor more importantly, conservative ideology.

    Is she as progressive as Bernie? Clearly not. Is she as progressive as LBJ? Certainly moreso. To suggest that someone is somehow ideologically antithetical to her stated positions simply because she understands pragmatic realpolitik is ignorance. Her position on women’s reproductive health ALONE clearly places her as a progressive, not to mention her positions on healthcare -you might remember that the initial hatred for her came from the very first cause she took up as First Lady- universal healthcare. PROGRESSIVE ideology.

    We live in a complex world that has some elements that we’d prefer not to include. Obama and/or Clinton supporting or not supporting trade agreements doesn’t change their essential ideology, nor does an unwillingness to engage in combat with the banks and corporations. Most people consider Teddy Roosevelt a prototypical progressive- and he was. That being said, he had no problem with corporations until they started building monopolies and trusts. In point of fact, WH Taft, his successor, passed more progressive legislation than TR, a fact that’s lost to TR’s popularity. FDR began his New Deal by holding a private conference with the power’s that be in the finance industry to develop the programs that made up Glass Steagall and the Banking Acts of 1933. That doesn’t change his essential role as a progressive.

    My real problem is this need on some progressives to discredit Clinton in order to make Bernie somehow more progressive. It’s a very conservative approach and intensely distasteful.

    At the end of the day, there’s a very strong possibility that Bernie’s status as a socialist will be too great an intellectual shift for the majority of American voters. When that happens, if our own party has discredited Hillary, we’ll be faced with a situation where we end up with a Ben Carson simply because our party was too fragmented to pull their heads out of their asses and realized we’re all on the same side. What do you think Bernie’s trying to do? Half of his statements in the last two weeks, and certainly his performance in the debate underline his mandate that he is not going to fight that kind of campaign.

    • Forest Harlan

      One of your assertions in defense of Hillary must be challenged. She never supported “universal health care” in 1992. She was a staunch opponent of those of us who were pushing for a Medicare for All, single payer system at that time. Until we throw out the private, profit-driven insurance corporations, we will never get to universal. There is no working example in other countries or in economic theory of how to get to universal as long as profit for corporations remains the organizing principle of our fragmented, broken health care “non-system.”

  3. Good survey– but forgot to include the questionable (to say the least) policy in the Balkans, during the Bosnian War and Kosovo War. Taking sides in nasty civil disputes to destabilize one party is a Clinton specialty.

  4. I call clinton a “republican lite”. She’s bought and paid for. That’s enough to know she’s not for the middle and working class Americans..

    Bernie Sanders is the only one who wants to help the people of America.

  5. so that was may. how do you feel a out her now, 5 mos later?

  6. Pingback: 25 Unfounded Myths Being Spread About Bernie? by The Clinton Machine - Uncle Sam's Blog

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