In view of history we must ask whether Black lives matter, or just their votes, to the Clinton dynasty. The puzzling loyalty of Black voters to the Clinton political brand is a triumph of image over substance. How inextricably are Bill and Hillary interwoven? Should Hillary be judged in some measure accountable for the actions and policies of her husband's administration? This is an important question. Bill's administration was responsible for serious damage to Black communities both here and abroad.
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At home, does Hillary share accountability for Bill's 1996 Welfare "Reform" Act that ended the AFDC and Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training programs in collusion with Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" agenda, replaced with federal block grant dollars for states to use as they pleased irrespective of social justice? According to sociologist Joe Ross, lead author of Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race, this served to institutionalize right-wing stereotypes of "black laziness" and "sexual irresponsibility" of black women, increasing racist public attitudes and generating racially biased systems.
Does Hillary also share accountability for Bill's omnibus crime bill that vastly expanded America's New Jim Crow into a sprawling prison-industrial complex, disproportionately populated by Black males disenfranchised in 35 states for varying lengths of time up to life following incarceration? Hillary supported this legislation with darkly racist language, "These...are often the kinds of kids that are called super-predators. No conscience, no empathy...we have to bring them to heel." This legislation vastly expanded the list of capital crimes and included the infamous "three-strikes law" sentencing people convicted of repeated non-violent, low-level offenses to life imprisonment. This disproportionately affected Blacks due to racial profiling and shrinkage of economic opportunities in our inner cities. Nearly half of Black men have been arrested by their early 20s and are discriminated against in every phase of the criminal justice system from arrest to prosecution to sentencing.
Abroad, does Hillary share accountability for Black African deaths resulting from Clinton administration extortion blocking Nelson Mandela's 1997 program to provide generic HIV/AIDS drugs in Africa? Sub-Saharan Africa, with some 15% of the world's population, suffers 70% of the world's HIV/AIDS cases. Despite this alarming vulnerability, the Clinton administration including Big Pharma lobbyist Tony Podesta and his brother John Podesta - Bill's White House Chief of Staff and Hillary's current campaign director - threatened trade sanctions against Mandela to protect Big Pharma profits. It was not until 2002 that the Clinton Foundation made amends by launching its Health Access Initiative to distribute affordable ARV drugs. How many Black Africans met terrible deaths in the interim?
Less trumpeted but more authentic Bernie's civil rights record has been unconscionably distorted by Hillary's pitchmen to Black voters. As a student, Bernie chaired the University of Chicago chapter of CORE which merged with SNCC, displaying his trademark confrontational style toward racist policies of the university administration, and was once charged with resisting arrest while protesting school segregation on Chicago's South Side.
Beyond Black lives, do any lives matter to the Clinton team that stand in the way of neoliberal gluttony?
Does Hillary share accountability for NAFTA, which a 2014 study by Public Citizen estimated had cost the U.S. 845,000 manufacturing sector jobs replaced if-at-all by low-paying service sector jobs, had weakened unions, and had increased income inequality? Hillary enthusiastically heralded this in 1996, declaring "I think everybody is in favor of free and fair trade. I think NAFTA is proving its worth."
Does Hillary share accountability for the 1999 partial repeal of Glass-Steagall which deregulated the banking industry, eliminating the firewall between commercial and investment banking that led to the 2008 financial collapse, mortgage crisis and widespread disappearances of pension funds?
And don't forget Bill's exploitation of Soviet Union collapse to invite Poland, the Baltic states and most of the former Warsaw Pact to join NATO after Russia had been assured that NATO would not be expanded by "a single inch" to induce their acceptance of German reunification. We, of course, also anticipated a tax-relieving "peace dividend." What happened to that? Ignored by a dozing press and public, Bill launched a Russian encirclement agenda much to the relief of the weapons industry. Hillary, as an ever faithful sidekick, has carried the ball forward with bloodthirsty zeal, supporting the monstrous destruction of Iraq as Senator and the monstrous destruction of Libya as Secretary of State, both of which have brought chaos and ISIS to the Middle East and North Africa.
As Senator, Hillary's ambiguous relationship with the banking industry also deserves scrutiny, especially her evasive and ambivalent position on the 2005 bankruptcy "reform" legislation that exempted private student loans from bankruptcy relief and increased mortgage defaults by making bankruptcy relief more difficult for homeowners. Her generous support by the banking industry aroused understandable suspicions.
As Secretary of State, Hillary established a deeply disturbing independent track record. In addition to her heavy hand in the Obama administration's destruction of Libya's highly developed, secular, socialist society in violation of international law, her private emails may reveal her assignment of Ambassador Robert Stephen Ford exporting the "Salvador Option" to Syria, and dig into her appointment of Neocon Victoria Nuland as State Department Press Secretary who, later ascending to Assistant Secretary of State, acknowledged spending 5 billion US taxpayer dollars to orchestrate the coup in Ukraine replacing their democratically elected president with her hand-picked, neo-Nazi US puppet.
Her emails have already revealed Hillary's central role in the 2009 coup deposing democratically elected President Zelaya in Honduras, prevention of his return and attempts to strong-arm Latin American nations to recognize the illegally installed coup government. Hillary's complicity was described by the recently assassinated Honduran populist leader Berta Caceres, which further exacerbated the massive Central American refugee population our destruction of their societies has created. It has been a disaster for Honduras, in chaos ever since with now the world's highest murder rate.
This is the "experience" Hillary cites on her job application. Should not voters judge her unsuitable for our land's highest office until she repudiates these dark blemishes on the Clinton brand, as long as she cites Bill's record on the campaign trail, as long as he smiles benignly behind her in campaign appearances, and as long as she stands proudly on her record as a seasoned veteran of political leadership? Fortunately, we have an objective track record to review beyond today's campaign speeches and predictably prepared TV debate performances.
Vigorous Republican scrutiny of the Clinton record will be assured should Hillary become the Democratic candidate, and could well result in a Trump presidency. We ignore history at our own peril, especially if voting while Black, Latino, Arab, housed or employed.
(Article changed on March 25, 2016 at 01:16)
(Article changed on March 26, 2016 at 12:38)