Hillary Clinton and her high profile supporters have a new
To women who don't favor Clinton the message is, "It's Not
Me [Hillary], It's You." It has all the promise of that breakup line aimed at winning
someone back. Or none.
Coupled with the "artful smear" she attributed to Sanders
during the last debate and Bill Clinton's belittling of Sanders about the use
of the word "establishment," it's pretty delicious irony. Served hot.
To recap: this weekend Madeleine Albright introduced Hillary
Clinton in New Hampshire saying, "there's a
special place in hell
for women who don't support other women," to loud
laughter by Clinton.
Bill Clinton tried to distract from this mess, by
questioning who is part of the establishment (even after
, and many people have said the Clintons are). And, he says, some Sanders'
supporters are mean.
Is her framing of gender and power embracing or alienating?
WHO GOES TO HELL?
Albright's proclamation was a revelation.
Personally, I had thought my support of women through my work
on campus sexual assault, talks on issues affecting women (gender equity
recently, and earlier on garment work), and my work on a variety of progressive
issues might stand me in good stead with a higher moral authority. But my support
for Sanders' will make my gender hell eval " hellacious.
My head started spinning around like in "The Exorcist," even
as I pondered my special place in a place in which I don't believe.
Quickly I realized I'll have company.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told us that "we
think the price is worth it
" of Western sanctions which killed an estimated
500,000 children, according to United Nations estimates. For the incredible pain
she caused to mothers who unnecessarily lost their babies, the former Secretary
of State will skip limbo and head straight to a purgatory. Side note: Albright
has said she regretted the statement but not disavowed the sanctions regime
that caused two oil-for-food coordinators to resign due to the devastating humanitarian
Hillary Clinton will presumably
after the death of an estimated 1 million civilians (adjusted for
time) after our illegal invasion of Iraq that she supported. While we don't
know exact numbers, it is likely that hundreds of thousands who died were
But, the real question is: "Will she go to an 'extra special'
Let's look at how women have been "supported" by her.
Clinton did not support gay marriage til 2013 and "evolved"
to supporting it as a constitutional right in 2015. Sorry, lesbians!
After representing the US as Secretary of State in
Copenhagen where the 2-degree scientific limit was recognized, Clinton has been
hesitant to publicly champion this (or better a 1.5 degree) goal. So too has
she been slow to recognize that the vast majority of fossil fuels must stay in
the ground. Women suffer more from catastrophic climate change, and she has
been slow to highlight the gender
. Of course women are part of larger humanity that will experience
climate change as overriding hardship.
Clinton has been very weak on inequality (per Vice
) even after decades of public service. Championing the
rights of women and addressing global poverty effectively should entail recognizing
wealth distribution is a major driver behind poverty. No dice.
As head of one of the largest foundations of the world, one
of the greatest affects has been that of the financial crash which took $6 and
$36 trillion out of the US economy alone. Where has she been publicly on this
issue in the past, before announcing her presidential run? Has she spoken up
when regulation has been undercut through bank lobbying and Congressional
One could go on.
A friend in the Obama administration said to me several
weeks ago, "I guess she'll be fine for white, upper-class women."
MONEY AND THE MOMENT
Clinton evades a broader conversation about feminism and
identity (beyond complaining about biased media coverage which often sucks for
politicians, see the Dean Scream
.) She highlights the unique aspect of a female presidency. True, many
of us would vote for Jane Linn over Joe Linn. But is a female leader,
inherently, a better one? Many Democrats didn't vote for Sarah Palin because
she was a poor candidate, so no. Could a female candidate can be used to gin up
more opposition, and is this a reason to vote against her? Probably not. Does
she have to be aggressive on foreign policy in order to win? If so, are we
inherently buying into more deaths of people in Africa and the Middle East with
another Clinton presidency? Sometimes we're told Obama couldn't effectively
champion revitalization of our inner cities (and he's certainly had a mixed
record when it comes, broadly, to the plight of African Americans) -- would
women achieve less under Clinton's leadership?
But most Sanders supporters I know don't ask these
questions. They believe that the most revolutionary thing they can do is to
elect Sanders. That from corporate fraudulence to climate, true to his record,
Clinton supporters say focus on the issues. And people do:
her record on them and her conflicts with the public interest. Instead of being
asked where they were when the astronauts landed on the moon, or other
milestones, Democratic candidates are held to account for where they were when
corporations ran amuk keeping billions abroad and in tax havens (even while
concocting fraudulent schemes), when inequality soared, and when we faced
environmental disasters from the hyperlocal to the global.
Was Clinton on the front lines of the People's Climate
March? How actively has she spoken of the need to keep 2/3 of fossil fuels in
the ground? As to how it's impossible to solve social and economic problems in
a system where 1/10th of 1 percent has almost as much as the bottom
90 percent? Has she spoken explicitly as to how she will stop that from worsening
(even as now JUST 62 people have as much as the bottom half of the world)? Pick
any of 30 issues, where corporate or wealthy play a critical role in a hugely
unjust, unsafe or unsustainable system and she will not have spoken out against
the wealthy and corporations in any meaningful and consistent way over decades.
Her frequent harking back to her days with the Children's
Defense Fund makes it pretty obvious that the $100-plus
million Clinton system
pays off. Wall Street alone gave her $2.9
million in speaking fees
from 2013 to 2015, presumably because she'd done
something for them or they believe she could be influenced to do so. It doesn't
take an "artful smear" she referenced in the last debate to suggest so, as much
as simple observation. However, Elizabeth
Warren does provide direct
evidence in the case of the bankruptcy bill
which Hillary Clinton helped defeat as First Lady, before voting for it as New
York senator, should it help.
It's 2016. The world is headed for catastrophic climate
change, wars rage across the Middle East, the poor (and increasingly us all)
here are being exploited. Public health is rapidly deteriorating. In a world
where Bill Clinton had not strayed (because I agree with Nora
Ephron that Bill is primarily to blame
for President George W. Bush's
election), we might have a world in which a financial crisis was averted, as
were several wars. A world in which people and the planet thrived. A world in
which an "establishment" candidate looked great. A place in which I -- and many
of us -- might vote for the very smart Hillary Clinton. And a world in which she
made the choices to justify it.
But right now, I'd rather be in the heaven of a new progressive
movement: one defined by big goals that will create a society of justice and
sustainability through concerted action.
In fact, as Clinton and her champions lecture me about my
gender, I increasingly think I should choose the special place they want to
consign me to over voting for her.
But I'll probably just ask my guy friends what they're
Veena Trehan is a DC-based journalist and activist. She has written for NPR, Reuters, Bloomberg News, and local papers.