Bernie Sanders has Betrayed his Cause.
Party unity is overrated; how is it ‘principled’ to unite behind a corrupt candidate?
“This election is not about Hillary Clinton,” he said. “This election is not about Donald Trump. This election is not about Bernie Sanders…”
Except that it is, isn’t it. Bernie Sanders’ speech to the Democrats’ convention neatly summed up his campaign. He talks the talk and talks it well. His analysis of the problems inherent in American society and in its political system is shrewd; the prognosis he offers is bleak, the remedy bold.
But you do not have to agree with Mr. Sanders opinions and beliefs to spot the glaring contradiction at the heart of his speech.
One cannot speak about the massive inequality institutionalized in American society, and about the corruption endemic in the political and economic establishments, and about the grave injustices of business as usual, and then go on to endorse the one candidate who represents all of the above.
One cannot talk about greed, or vested interests, or broken healthcare and justice and education systems, and go on to support the one candidate who has helped create all of that, and the one candidate who has truly benefited from it.
One cannot state the obvious — that the influence of banks has turned the nation into a plutocracy, and that ‘free trade’ deals like NAFTA and GATT and the proposed TPP serve the interests of a kleptocratic class — and then endorse its cause.
One cannot — one certainly should not — decry a rigged system and then endorse the rigger and boatswain.
One cannot say that this election is about causes not characters and then say that it is imperative that we support Clinton in order to stop Trump.
And yet that is what Mr. Sanders has presented to us, and that is what he has asked us to do. He talks the talk, then he tows the line.
To borrow from his preferred vernacular, “let me be perfectly clear:” Bernie Sanders has endorsed the woman who backed every single aspect of her disgraced, disgraceful, impeached, corrupt husband’s economic policy.
He has endorsed a woman who headed a para-state department dedicated to hounding and harassing the victims — Lewinsky, Jones, Broaddrick, Willey — of Bill Clinton’s services to women.
He has endorsed a woman who lobbied her husband to renege upon his commitments to the people of Bosnia, at the cost of several thousand lives, in order that the press not be distracted from her healthcare reforms. Those reforms, which were drawn up by the very insurance racket — Aetna, Prudential, Cigna — she affected to despise, resulted in the ruination rather than the salvation of healthcare.
We are now supposed to trust healthcare to the candidate who, when last in charge of it, did so much to destroy it?
Since Bosnia has come up: Mr Sanders has endorsed a candidate who cannot even be trusted to lie properly. Clinton, attempting to boost her foreign policy credentials ahead of the ’08 election, claimed to have “landed under sniper fire” at the airport in Tuzla, Bosnia, in 1996. The absurdity of this claim was revealed by CBS, who had sent a camera crew to document Ms. Clinton’s trip, and who released the actual footage alongside Clinton’s falsified account.
In ’08 Hillary Clinton had no foreign policy experience worth mentioning. What she did have had to be embellished so heavily that it ceased to resemble reality. Now, after her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has… no foreign policy experience worth mentioning. But we’ll come to that later.
Bernie Sanders has endorsed the woman who was an advocate, front and centre, for Bill Clinton’s racist Three Strikes policy which has bloated the prison population and disproportionately affected black and Hispanic citizens.
He has endorsed the woman who branded huge swathes of black youths ‘super-predators’. He has endorsed a friend of Dick Morris, the loathsome author of the contemptible Jesse Helms’ disgraceful ‘White Hands’ advert from 1994 that plays on the very same race-based animosity for which Clinton and her advocates now repeatedly castigate Donald Trump.
He has endorsed a former Goldwater Republican. He has endorsed a woman who played the race card against Barrack Obama in ’08, suggesting that Obama was too black to be president, and who has defended her husband’s overtly racist actions and rhetoric, whether it be the execution of the lobotomized Ricky Ray Rector or his membership of a whites-only golf club, his snarling at then-Senator Ted Kennedy “the only reason you’re supporting him is because he’s black” after Kennedy had endorsed Obama and not Hillary, or the earlier “a few years ago this guy would have been getting us coffee.”
He has endorsed a woman who, according to Jerry Oppenheimer and several believable witnesses, branded her husband’s advisor, Paul Fray, a “f***ing Jew bastard” in 1974. And that’s far from the only occasion she’s been accused of deploying racial and racist epithets.
He has endorsed the candidate who supported both DoMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and praised Nancy Reagan — Nancy Reagan! — for starting a ‘national conversation’ about the AIDS epidemic when, of course, the Reagans had done no such thing.
This is the candidate we should trust to ‘bring people together’?
He has endorsed a candidate who has given lucrative speeches, and taken vast sums in endorsements, from the likes of Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. He has endorsed a candidate who still refuses to publish the transcripts of her speeches to those same banks and institutions. He has endorsed a candidate who has always pursued the deregulatory approach to banking and finance and who has appointed, in Tim Kaine, an ardent laissez faire capitalist — one we are obliged to call a ‘moderate’ Democrat though he is in fact, and like Clinton, a moderate Republican — as her Vice Presidential nominee.
And we are supposed to trust her to correct the vast incompetence and entrenched corruption and unfairness in the financial sector?
Back to abroad: Bernie Sanders has endorsed for president a candidate who backed the intervention in Iraq (not as damning an indictment as most assume it to be), which Sanders himself claims to be wholeheartedly against. That Clinton has since revised her position several times (including, in 2007, denying that she had voted for the war in the first place) is no surprise; expediency is her only guide.
Sanders has backed a candidate who, whilst Secretary of State, and having learnt precisely nothing from the Iraq adventure, pushed for the campaign of aerial bombardment that helped win the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi. But bombs are fickle things, disinclined to stick around and help rebuild the countries on which they are dropped.
So it is that Libya, its government destroyed and its society collapsing, is now a failed state locked in perpetual civil war. Bernie Sanders has backed the candidate that enabled and argued in favour of this disastrous outcome.
Sanders has backed a candidate who counts the ancient war criminal Henry Kissinger as a friend and adviser. Furthermore, Sanders has backed a candidate who, still intent on finding a way to affect regime change without any serious commitment of American combat personnel to the effort, argued vociferously — and disagreed with Obama in public — for arming elements of the Free Syrian Army in their fight against Bashar al-Assad. That the FSA was itself a hugely divided entity, with elements sympathetic to Islamic State, seemed to have no bearing at all on her decision.
As for Islamic State, it was the decision of the Obama-Clinton administration to push for a quick withdrawal of US and Coalition troops from Iraq, opting against renewing the Status of Forces Agreement, which exposed the power vacuum in which Islamic State has flourished. That, and whilst she did eventually urge the Iraqi Parliament to dispense with the sectarian Islamist Nouri al-Maliki, the previous support of the US for that regime damaged beyond measure the already fragile social fabric in Iraq.
All of that, and the complacency of her ‘reset’ with Russia — who, by exploiting her now notorious private email server, and the lax security of the DNC, have exposed corruption and malpractice at the latter (though this was not deemed serious enough to stop Clinton appointing the disgraced Debbie Wasserman Schultz to a senior position on her campaign team) and a vast assortment of dodgy donors to the Clinton campaign and the Clinton Foundation — hardly speaks to the candidate’s credibility on overseas affairs.
Yet this is the candidate we are supposed to trust because of her foreign policy experience?
Sanders has backed a candidate who has, throughout her career and even whilst she was Secretary of State, taken vast sums of money from dictators and their regimes, and from corrupt businessmen like Mark Rich — a man who has given huge sums to the Clinton Global Initiative and who was pardoned by then-President Bill Clinton in 2001 despite being on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for breaking trade sanctions and embargoes with Iran and Apartheid South Africa — and Norman Hsu.
The documentary Clinton Cash documents some of these connections, such as the Clintons’ close relationship with Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, a man condemned by the United Nations for his appalling record on human rights and his clandestine military campaigns in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These connections are not merely that of donor and charity: the documentary describes a worrying correlation between donations and State Department policy. Nigeria, for example, was the beneficiary of a waiver, granted to the country by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, from a policy intended to tie USAID to political transparency and reform in countries that receive its support.
Nigeria, which Prime Minister David Cameron described this year as “probably the most corrupt country in the world,” received this waiver despite making no progress whatsoever toward transparency. Moreover, it received this waiver only after Bill Clinton was paid $1.4 million by Nigerian businessman, and friend of the then-president of the country, Nduka Obaigbena, for two speeches; the first Clinton had ever given in the country.
This connection between donations and policy is also evidenced, as the documentary shows, in the case of Haiti, where the Clinton State Department gave contracts and tenders for the reconstruction effort to untested and unscrupulous companies, like Dalberg, fronted by major donors to the Clinton Foundation and the CGI, like Telecoms giant Denis O’Brien.
VCS Mining was another company to benefit from the disaster in Haiti, granted a gold mining contract under the Clinton-led rebuilding initiative. Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, was a board member of that company at the time the contract was given.
I have had the enjoyable experience of writing about Hillary’s ludicrous brothers before. This, from 2014, is a brief account of one of their many unsuccessful business ventures:
One of the most amusing and well-known episodes came when the brothers put their collective brain to the task of creating and orchestrating what we are obliged to call a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. This involved the peculiar and, at first glance, innocuous enterprise of growing hazelnuts in the former Soviet state of Georgia, and exporting them to the West.
In a feat befitting of a comic relief duet, this banal venture caused a major diplomatic scandal.
The brothers had, more by accident than design, embroiled themselves in the complex world of post-Soviet politics. The Clinton administration had gone to considerable efforts to support the then-president of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze, who was accommodating of US interests in the region.
The Rodham brothers, apparently ignorant of this delicate state of affairs, bypassed the government of Georgia and went instead to the president’s great rival, the pro-Russian Aslan Abashidze (a man who more closely resembles an egg than a lion). Abashidze took the opportunity to flaunt what he claimed was the personal support of Bill Clinton, which unsettled Shevardnadze, and this in turn compromised relations between the US and Georgia.
Tony Rodham seems to have acted as the puppet of a disreputable Georgian gentleman named Vasili Patarkalishvili. This is the man responsible for the conception of the hazelnut plan, as well as the founder of a bank which opened just long enough to take hundreds of thousands of dollars before closing (with the money still somewhere inside), and who attempted to use Tony’s influence to arrange a meeting between Bill Clinton and the then-mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov, with the aim of winning Luzhkov’s support for another shady scheme involving smart debit cards. Luzhkov, incidentally, was rumoured to have links to mobsters, and allegedly had an American businessman murdered.
Hugh, meanwhile, has been accused of using his influence to negotiate a lucrative tobacco settlement, and both have been accused of acting as covert lobbyists for various interest groups, taking a significant amount of money in the process.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is another instance where Hillary Clinton’s State Department Policy seems to have been influenced by donations made to her campaign and to the Clinton Foundation. As the documentary explains: Hillary Clinton, ostensibly concerned with issues like climate change, signed off on the Keystone XL Pipeline — to the horror of environmentalist groups — after Bill Clinton was paid a small fortune by the TD Bank Investment Group to give 10 speeches in Canada. The TD Bank Investment Group, as the documentary shows, was one of the largest investors in the Keystone XL project.
This is the candidate we should trust?
One could go on, and on, and on. Any effort to be encyclopaedic on the subject of the Clintons and their dodgy practices would require daily updates for years to come.
The point, though, is this: By endorsing Clinton for President, Bernie Sanders has reneged upon his promise of a political revolution. He has said, in effect, that beating Donald Trump in an election is the most important task that American voters can undertake. He has said, in effect, that it does not matter who wins the White House, only that that person is not Donald Trump.
Yet given everything we know about Hillary Clinton, and everything Sanders has said whilst on the campaign trail about beating corruption and besting vested interests, how can it be that Hillary Clinton is the solution to America’s ills?
If, as Sanders said at the Democrats’ Convention, this election is about more than the people involved, then he should not have given Clinton his backing. And, most importantly, neither should you: if you genuinely believe that Trump is the worst thing that could happen to America then your understanding of politics is staggering in its naivety.
By voting for Clinton only to stop Trump, all you are achieving is the vindication of the most corrupt candidate, and the most corrupt political dynasty, over a mere pretender to that throne.
Ignore the petty derision and scorn poured upon the ‘Bernie or Bust’ movement: to suggest that party unity is more important than political principles is to advocate the philosophy of the status quo that has done so much to harm American society. It is this sickly obsession with ‘unity’ and ‘bipartisanship’ that provides the political establishment with immunity from change; by sacrificing your values on the altar of the ‘Never Trump’ movement you enable something much, much worse.
Bernie Sanders has betrayed his cause. You need not do the same.