Let’s get this out of the way first: there is no rational or moral justification for not voting for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump should both become the respective nominees for their parties. So anyone part of the “Bernie of Bust” movement needs to stop reading now.
That being said, there are many of us who are deeply skeptical about Hillary Clinton — particularly her foreign policy positions and worrying history of pandering to Wall Street that make the prospect of her presidency a troubling one. Regardless of whether she would make a better president than Donald Trump (and she would), the media has an obligation to highlight her troubling past and hold her accountable for it.
Clinton’s ties to powerful interests and her lack of transparency regarding the nature of her relationship to big banks compounds this worry over her candidacy, and anyone concerned about the future of American politics should be alarmed by it.
In the fall of 2013, Hillary Clinton gave three speeches to executives of Goldman Sachs, and she has repeatedly refused requests to make the text of those speeches public. Clinton was paid a total of $675,000, and has argued that she won’t release the text unless all the other presidential candidates of both parties release the transcripts of the paid speeches they had given.
According to sources present at the speech, there is good reason why she does not want them to be made public. “[The speech] was pretty glowing about [Goldman Sachs],” said one attendees of the speech to Politico. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a ‘rah-rah’ speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.”
Said another attendee:
“Mrs. Clinton didn’t single out bankers or any other group for causing the 2008 financial crisis. Instead, she effectively said, ‘We’re all in this together, we’ve got to find our way out of it together.’”
Of course we don’t know exactly what Hillary Clinton said given she won’t release the transcripts, but the inference is pretty clear — she gave pro Wall St speeches to a bunch of Wall St executives.
After Goldman Sachs managed to bring the global economy to its knees in 2008 after decades of cheating, lying, and stealing money from the public, this is not what you want to hear from the major Democratic candidate for president. Hillary Clinton’s refusal to be transparent about it is also another major reason why many on the left are not comfortable with her becoming president, especially after living through eight years of her husband’s incessant triangulating and tenuous relationship with the truth. We witnessed the resurfacing of this shady politicking again in the 2008 election against Barack Obama, and it underlined why much of the nation was not up for a repeat of the 1990’s. Clinton’s team ran a smear campaign against Obama involving his former pastor Rev. Wright, attempted to link him to Louis Farrakhan and Hamas, then had Bill Clinton amazingly use the race card in South Carolina in an act of extreme desperation.
Now we are in 2016, and Hillary Clinton doesn’t appear to have changed a great deal.
I have always opposed a Hillary Clinton presidency on the grounds that her candidacy represents a tacit acceptance that the US is no longer a functioning democracy, but a kleptocracy where political power swings back and forth between powerful families rich enough to buy elections. To have the most powerful nation governed by two families for the better part of 40 years is a shocking indictment of America’s standing as a free and democratic nation. This does not mean Hillary Clinton would make a bad president, but her election would symbolize the deep malaise within the American political system — a system that looks near impossible to repair.
However, the real world does not conform to the wishes of privileged white people like myself, and there are hard realities that require pragmatism over ideology. There is simply a certain amount of corruption that one has to accept in modern American politics — you simply don’t get to the top without taking money from corporate interests or being evasive with the truth in American politics. And in the interests of picking the lesser evil, it is a pill rational people have to swallow if they want to ensure a better outcome for the majority of the population.
Personally, I would like to see a Bernie Sanders presidency. I have argued he is a better candidate than Hillary Clinton on virtually every issue, and represents a true break from the corporate centrists who have dominated liberal politics for the better part of 40 years. But a Sanders’ presidency is looking less likely by the day, and the left is going to have to come to terms with Hillary Clinton being their candidate. For the sake of the country and the safety of the planet, the left needs to get behind her in order to defeat whichever monster makes it out of the Republican National Convention this July.
That being said, Hillary Clinton does not get a free pass and no self respecting liberal should be OK with her dealings with Wall Street and inability to tell the truth about it.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.