Hi, my name is Zach Davidson. This article is my first contribution to Refuse to Cooperate. I hope it is the first of many contributions to come. I have known the blog founder since we our days together at University, and am grateful for him giving me space here to state my opinion. Below, I lay out my personal case for why I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton in this election. I find Donald Trump reprehensible! I also reject the false dichotomy of the two party oligarchy that works to narrow the range of options into a space the establishment finds acceptable. I refuse to limit my point of view to the Overton Window. I prefer to throw bricks through it.
On Thursday Night July 28, 2016 Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic Party's nomination to be President of the United States promising "real change for America". She extended an olive branch to supporters of Bernie Sanders saying "your cause is our cause." For Hillary, winning the nomination and then the Presidency will be the capstone of a political career that began as the wife of an Arkansas governor some thirty years ago. Her story is truly inspiring. Unfortunately, her candidacy is deeply troubling. She portrays herself on the campaign trail as the advocate of the underdog and the champion of the common person. Her record as first lady, as a Senator, and as Secretary of State tells a very different story. It is because of her policy choices and her connection to the corporate power structure that has a death grip on the Republic that I cannot in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
Before I make my argument as to why I cannot give my vote to candidate Clinton, it is important to be clear what this article is and what it is not. I intend to lay out my personal reasons for not voting for Clinton, not an exhaustive case for why nobody ought to vote for her. If you find my argument compelling, I am very pleased. If you find it lacking and still plan to vote for Clinton after reading it, I have no quarrel with you. Every voter has the right to cast their vote as they wish. I also do not claim that my arguments are entirely novel or completely original. I have formed my opinion based on reading and viewing reports of the campaign and from listening to Clinton in her various public roles. I will do my best to cite where I explicitly borrow ideas and language from others, but if your media and reading habits are similar to my own, much of what I say here may sound familiar.
When one watches Hillary Clinton campaign for President, both in 2008 and 2016, she seems to believe that the nomination is her due for decades of service. She stood by a cheating husband as President in the 1990s, she created a political career independent of his as a Senator from New York (a state she never lived in prior to deciding to run, but I digress), and then decided that 2008 was her year to take the reins of the country from the turbulent Texas cowboy. She seemed almost taken aback when a populist sounding neophyte caught fire with the electorate and began beating her in a primary she viewed as a mere formality. The campaign between Clinton and Obama was ugly, with Clinton dismissing Obama's inspiring rhetoric as empty promises. Time Magazine quoted Clinton as saying that it was "time that we move from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions." Obama hit back just as hard and won the nomination and the Presidency. In a show of magnanimity, he named Clinton as his choice for Secretary of State.
If anything, Clinton was even more dismissive of Bernie Sanders in 2016 than she was of Obama in 2008. No way was another champion of the people going to prevent her from her rightful role as President of the United States. The problem is that no person has a right to any office. It is the responsibility of Hillary Clinton to make her case to voters and win them over with evidence that they will pursue a policy agenda that those voters support. Clinton seems to expect voters to fall in line. Democracy does not work that way!
With help from a friendly primary schedule and an establishment media more interested in the Trump traveling circus than in the serious policy discussion Bernie Sanders wanted to have, Hillary won out over Sanders and is now the Democrats nominee for President. She said in an April 2015 tweet that she was running for President because "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion." Her policy record however show's her to be not the people's champion but a dutiful attendant to the interests of corporate paymasters.
Hillary's shortcomings as a campaigner in and of themselves are not sufficient reason to abstain from voting for her. If she had a record of voting and working for an agenda that safeguarded the interests of the poor and fighting against the business establishment, I could look past her lack of finesse on the campaign trail. I cast my vote as best I can on a basis of policy, not personality. Alas, an examination of Hillary's record since coming to the White House with Bill Clinton in 1992 reveals a politician that consistently advocates positions that her donors support, and not the interests of the American people.
One may argue that it is unfair to criticize Hillary Clinton for policy decisions her husband made as president. For some first ladies, this may be true. Hillary however had a level of involvement with Bill Clinton's administration sufficient to claim that his decisions came with her input and support. In her own now infamous words "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life." Bill Clinton's signing of NAFTA, and the subsequent loss of American jobs then is indicative of where Hillary Clinton stands on trade. His support of the repeal of the New Deal era Glass-Steagall Act, which abolished the separation of high-risk investment banking and more mundane commercial banking was a major contributor to the casino environment that resulted in the 2008 financial implosion and Great recession. Hillary Clinton never criticized the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that undid the Glass-Steagall protections or sought to reinstate those protections in her Senate career.
Even if one is willing to give Clinton a pass on NAFTA, which she supported in the 90s and in the Senate, but called a "mistake" while running for president in 2008, her record as a supporter of free trade is very strong. 10 free trade bills came up for a vote while Clinton was in the Senate. She voted in favor of passage on 6 of them, against 2, and abstained on 2 but voiced her support. At best then, she is 40% against free trade and 60% in favor. Even that assessment is generous, putting the abstentions in the no column when her record indicates she supported the trade deals. More significantly, Clinton supported the Trans Pacific Partnership as Secretary of State and only changed her position when she began her campaign. With such an equivocal record on trade, who knows what position she would take once in office? I recommend that anyone who would like a more in-depth look at Hillary rhetoric and record on free trade read Politifact's excellent article on the subject.
Hillary Clinton's trade record is similar to many establishment Democrats. Her record on education is similarly long on promises and short on specific policies. She championed education reform in Arkansas and as first lady. She voted for George Bush's now much maligned No Child Left Behind Act as a Senator in 2001. In fairness, then Representative Bernie Sanders also voted for the Act. Clinton voiced support for President Obama's 2015 education act which aimed to fix the deficiencies of the No Child Left Behind Act. She has expressed opposition to school vouchers and promised bold new action on education when she becomes president. What exactly she will do her campaign leaves unclear. Clinton also fails to mention how she will pay for new education intitiatives. Funding lies at the heart of education policy. Whether Clinton will allocate funds for education rather than defense industries or corporate subsidies is at best an open question. We know how her donors want her to spend money.
Hillary's record in foreign policy is no better than her record in protecting workers in the United States. Any discussion of U.S. foreign policy since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks must have the Iraq War at its center. It was the biggest blunder since Vietnam, and Senator Hillary Clinton was a major supporter of the U.S. invasion. In a Senate speech in October 2002 she claimed that
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons might stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security. This much is undisputed."
In December 2003, she stated before the Council on Foreign Relations that
"I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote. I have had many disputes and disagreements with the administration over how that authority has been used, but I stand by the vote to provide the authority because I think it was a necessary step in order to maximize the outcome that did occur in the Security Council with the unanimous vote to send in inspectors."
She has since said that she voted for the war because the Bush administration gave Senators bad information and that she might have voted differently if she knew then what she has discovered since 2003. The fact still remains that she believed what the Bush administration told her at the time and ignored war critics at the time who urged skepticism. When the war was popular, she supported it. As it became less so, she hastened to position herself among the critics. One finds a troubling pattern of such expedient positioning as one critically examines Hillary Clinton's record.
As Secretary of State, Clinton continued to advocate interventionism and militancy as she did in the Senate. She was the major champion of bombing Libya, saying flippantly of Muammar Ghaddafi that "We came, we saw, he died." Many civilians also died in Libya, and a protracted internal struggle followed our air campaign. Channeling Julius Caesar may not have been Clinton's wisest move. Clinton also was a consistent advocate for expanded U.S. involvement in Syria, contributing to the chaos in that embattled country. She worked against the deal with Iran, then took credit on the campaign trail when that deal seemed to bear fruit. She does get credit for supporting human rights in her speeches, but those word pale beside her actions.
There are any number of other issues where Hillary Clinton shows at best an equivocal record and at worst put the interests of a narrow elite above the interests of the American people. Among the most important issues I did not go into are healthcare and reform criminal sentencing. On all those issues Clinton has made progressive sounding remarks, but has done the bidding of the corporate donors with whom she is uncomfortably comfortable. At the root of all these problems is the system of campaign finance that amounts to open bribery. Until we fix this system, other policy issues will remain impossible to remedy. Hillary Clinton has demonstrated repeatedly how content she is to work within this corrupt system. Until she shows evidence that she is serious about fixing it, I can see no circumstances in which I can vote for her.