The War on Hugs
I keep seeing that photo of Hillary Clinton and George Bush hugging from Nancy Reagan’s funeral, with generic, white-washed commentary on how ultimately, we should care about each other. We should sweep our differences under the rug in times of mourning. We should put our personal politics aside and compromise when it really matters. We are, as humans, better off if we do this.
I am not sure how otherwise to phrase this, so: No.
George W. Bush is responsible for a costly, and unnecessary war with a bill to taxpayers in the sum of $6 trillion dollars. 6,800 soldiers tragically lost their lives, and an estimated 500,000 Iraqis died (effectively murdered). Under the Bush administration, we had the most lopsided distribution of wealth since 1917. Bush pushed for the Ownership Society initiative and deregulation of Wall Street that preyed on poor people, getting them into mortgages they could not afford in order to boost the paychecks of the 1%. Bush left us with $1.2 trillion in debt, obligated to be payed back by the 99%. Bush’s terrible reaction to Hurricane Katrina, long before the hurricane came ashore, aided in the death of almost 2,000 people, and the displacement of 400,000, a population that was largely black, elderly, and poor.
Hillary Clinton has been on the wrong side of history for decades, from defending a rapist to supporting NAFTA — legislation that has increased income disparity and allowed for up to one million in lost jobs. She supported welfare reform, keeping food from the mouths of hungry children all over the nation and effectively doubling the number of children in poverty. It took her until 2013 to support gay marriage. 2013! Her support of the 1994 crime bill aided in the incarceration of 1 in 3 black males. I could go on but the point remains: Hillary Clinton has a long history of inaction and poor choices.
Nancy Reagan is partially responsible for the death of thousands from HIV in the LGBTQ community due to her and her husband’s inaction in the 1980s. The Reagan administration also needle exchanges and other harm reduction programs that would have prevented the transmission and spread of HIV and AIDS. These decisions, especially the choice of inaction, disproportionately affected the poor, the uninsured, and those who are not white.
Nancy Reagan’s most defining legacy, of course, is the disastrous War on Drugs, a political campaign that caused the number of non-violent drug incarcerations nation-wide to go from 50,000 to 800,000 between 1980 and 1997. During the War on Drugs, the Reagan administration was funneling money to the Contras in Nicaragua, who were using that money to bring crack cocaine to our cities. Of course, black and other non-white people were disproportionately jailed for possession, even though white people use at the same rate.
The Reagan administration created laws to jail black people, and then paid for drugs to be funneled to black neighborhoods, where they would be arrested for possession. The War on Drugs was systemic racism in effect, and it’s legacy lives on today.
These three people? They are not good people. They are not good people who used their power to help those who were less fortunate. These people actively made life harder for those who are disadvantaged. They did not take their position of considerable power to do much beyond force their own selfish political agendas for war, money, and power. Is it sad when someone dies? Yes, sure, I guess. But these people are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and the unjust incarceration of hundreds of thousands more, and not only will I not shed a tear for Nancy Reagan, I will not brush my politics aside to celebrate two people embracing when all I see is the blood on their hands.
I know, I know: it’s just a FaceBook post. But the 2016 election is based on proving that Clinton is the one with the most experience, but her experience is mostly an assortment of poor choices that she has “learned from”. We’re told to compromise, to settle for our “best bet” instead of what we are truly owed. When you ask someone to celebrate this photo, you are asking someone to ignore the justice we are owed, for past atrocities and current conditions.
So no, I will not celebrate that photo, and I will not compromise.