By Isabel Manuela Estrada Portales, Ph.D., M.S.
I am firmly in Bernie Sanders’s camp, but, yes, of course, I’ll end up voting for Hillary Clinton in the general election if the choices are she and any of the clowns on the Republican side. I have many, many disagreements with Clinton, but clearly not nearly as many as with the GOP.
However, Clinton’s positions on the Democratic debates really reminded me why I do not care for her attitude and timid policies. Yes, she is entitled and believes the rules don’t apply to her. That doesn’t bother me all that much…that is the position all the men around her and in the Republican debate stages take and doesn’t seem to be so bothersome for anyone. Her double talk is insufferable, but, yet again, remember a black senator from Chicago who was not going to play politics the way Clinton does? Right.
But I have a few major problems with Clinton’s responses that are substantive and should force us to, at the very least, demand that she explains herself in specificities instead of grandstanding.
- “But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America.” Yes, careful with insulting Denmark. But don’t let the possibility of highlighting the supposed American exceptionalism slide pass without seizing it to draw from it during the general election. But, what exactly does that mean? She knows full well Sanders is not saying we need to become Denmark, but arguing Denmark is a capitalist country with all the freedoms and rights we enjoy and some many of us, actually, don’t get to enjoy because they are not rights but privileges for the few and the moneyed. Then, is the notion of health care as a right that she objects to? Or the notion that people should not work and live in poverty? Would it be the idea of good quality public education she finds unappealing?
- So, when she thinks about Capitalism, she thinks about the small businesses, really? Interesting. So, that is what Sanders objects to, right? The small businesses and the economic and political freedoms? That is a manipulation of the message to appeal to general election voters without having to answer to the progressives she needs to court to the voting booth.
- “I am a progressive that likes to get things done.” What exactly does that mean? That progressive ideas can’t hardly be achieved in their supposed pure form? That Sanders, who has worked more with Republicans than all of the debaters combined and who managed a city, after all, have lofty ideas that are unrealistic? The definition of double talk is the way in which she attacks progressive ideas without committing whatever her critique is to actual words we can argue or agree with. We also remember how she couldn’t get things done, for instance, on health care. Or how she got things done, for instance, in supporting and campaigning for policies that have resulted in mass incarceration and a very bad deal for communities of color. So, what exactly are the things progressive Hillary Clinton will get done? She was quite specific when it came to guns, as that’s the area in which she feels Sanders may be out of step with the broader progressive community, but in everything else, she carefully navigated the line of saying “I agree with Bernie…I just know how to do it, but won’t tell you for now.”
- Don’t pay for Trump’s kids. When Hillary Clinton says that, she is actually uttering the same thing the right says about welfare recipients. Basically, there are some people that are undeserving of our collective project. It is not “free,” it is paid by all of us, as we decide what things we want to prioritize in our society. Actually, if Trump were to be a bad father who wants to put not a cent into his kids’ education, our society should have the same obligation to Trump’s kids than to anyone else’s. Also, in a fair taxation system, Trump would have paid his fair share in taxes, therefore, his kids would have the same rights to everything we consider “the commons.” The saddest part is that when she pulls this kind of rhetoric, she is validating the individualistic, self-centered, every man and every woman for himself or herself arguments of the right. Why should I pay for someone else’s kid’s lunch in school? Why should I pay for someone else’s health insurance? Why should I pay for black people’s public school (yes, remember how we ended up with a locality-funded public education!)?
- I don’t want [insert most far right Republican governor’s name] managing my health care or my health insurance. No, that is not merely the same as her statement about not paying for Trump’s kids’ college education; it is the same way the right uses their reductionist arguments to obfuscate issues. This is what makes Clinton so unappealing to people who long for a bit of honesty in the political system. She has no qualms about rehashing the right’s strategies that do a great disservice to everyone, since they misinform, instead of educate. A friend of mine used to say she wanted Trump to be the nominee because that would assure our victory. I told her that was wrong because something could happen to the Democratic nominee and we end up with Trump; but, most importantly, I sorely lament that Trump, Carson and Fiorina are in the primaries at all. I don’t want more disinformation. I want an elevated, informed debate that would help the population as a whole; instead of people using and abusing the lack of information and the worst sentiments of it.
DISCLAIMER: These are my personal views and do not represent the opinions of my employer, or any other organization.