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Hillary, Bernie and Jill

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For reasons that greatly puzzle this writer, Democrats in the United States seem to have divided into two camps. We will call the first one Camp B, for those campers who apparently believe that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the savior, the one the world has been waiting for. It is he, they seem to believe, who will usher in a new golden era of equality, one in which banks will be held accountable for their crimes, and students will be able to attend the university of their choice without going into lifelong debt. Under a Sanders administration, we are told, the United States will play a new role on the world stage, fostering independence and self-determination for all (except the Palestinians of course; we all know that they don’t count) by means of diplomacy, and not weaponry. The monies stolen by the rich from the poor will be returned to those who rightfully earned them. The world’s citizens will then, in some symbolic way, join hands and sing Kumbaya, as this new age of Aquarius dawns upon us all.

The remaining Democrats are encamped, it appears, in Camp H. These folks seem to believe that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the one who will bring us into this bright new world. Never mind her vote to authorize then President George W. Bush to invade Iraq! As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, the voters aren’t interested in the past; they want to know what the candidate will do in the future! Forget Mrs. Clinton’s statement that, if Iran were to threaten her beloved Israel, she would, as president, obliterate Iran! Similar to Mr. Sanders, Palestinians are not worthy of her concern. And need we look at her close ties to every organization linked to wealth? While it may have been her husband who bedded an intern, Mrs. Clinton it seems has been intimate with every corporate industry associated with the 1%.

But what is any of that when, to follow the first African-American elected to the presidency, the final frontier on the glass ceiling can be broken by Mrs. Clinton’s election? Won’t that do as much for equal rights for women as President Barack Obama’s election did for the equal rights for African-Americans? Probably, and that is one of the many things that puzzles this writer.

The differences between Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton seem cosmetic at best. There are some real differences worth noting; Mrs. Clinton is financing her campaign by calling in, or, perhaps, promising, favors to her and her husband’s many wealthy friends. Her top five contributors, along with their generous donations, between 1999 and 2016 are shown below.

* Citigroup: $824,402

* Goldman Sachs: $760,740

* DLA Piper: $700,530

* JP Morgan Chase: $696,496

* Morgan Stanley: $636,564

TOTAL: $3,618,732

Mr. Sanders’ top contributors from 1989 – 2016 are mainly trade unions. They and their contributions are as follows:

* Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union: $105,000

* Teamsters Union: $93,700

* National Education Assn: $89,242

* United Auto Workers: $79,750

* United Food and Commercial Workers Union: $72,500

TOTAL: $440,192

Lest anyone begin to believe that this writer is indicating support for Mr. Sanders, please disabuse yourself of any such notion. The fact that Mrs. Clinton is an unabashed corporate shill, and Mr. Sanders, perhaps, isn’t, or is less so, doesn’t cause this writer to reject the one and embrace the other. He agrees that Mr. Sanders is probably the lesser of the two Democratic evils, but there are alternatives.

One must look again at the candidacy of Dr. Jill Stein. Beholden to no one but the voters, Dr. Stein appears to be a no-nonsense candidate. Let us look at contributions to her 2016 campaign; unfortunately, since she has not held elective office, we cannot track contributions over a period of years, simply because there have been none.

* Individual Contributor: $177,351

* PAC Contributions: $0

* Self-financing: $40,000

* Federal Funds: $3075

TOTAL: $220,426

Now we’ll review some of Dr. Stein’s statements, relating to some of the vital issues of the day.

* Human Rights and International Law: “On the basis of human rights, international law, and diplomacy. We need to be a leading member of the world community–leading but not domineering, which has become the U.S. approach, dominated by endless war, which is unsustainable.”

Note the phrase “leading but not domineering”. Let us look back a few years, to a time when Iraq’s major residential areas had not been subjected to U.S. ‘democracy’. The United Nations weapons inspectors were searching in vain for ‘weapons of mass destruction’. One might think that a nation that was leading with diplomacy would have allowed the inspectors to continue their work. One that leads by domineering would have warned the inspectors to leave the country, because it was about to be bombed. The U.S., of course, did the latter.

* Foreign Policy: “We cannot afford to be the unilateral policemen of the world enforcing our own interest. We are a member of a very integrated world community and world economy and we need to behave accordingly.”

What? The U.S. should no longer be the world’s police force? Neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Sanders will like that very much. Mrs. Clinton’s war-mongering record is well known; Mr. Sanders’ less so. Consider his vote to authorize the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and, much more recently, his votes authorizing funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; his support for an aid package for the coup government of Ukraine and, of course, his support for Israel’s periodic slaughtering of Palestinians.

“We should have a foreign policy … established on the basis of international law, human rights and diplomacy, and that we should not be in the business of funding basically weapons for everybody who wants them….”

The U.S. is the chief weapons vendor in the world, with over 50% of the market; Russia is a close second, with about 10%. Perhaps the idea of constant wars would be less appealing, if they weren’t so profitable for the 1%.

“This slave-like mentality towards Israel is absolutely unjustified. We need to start raising the bar for Israel and holding them to an equal standard for supporting human rights and international law and ending occupations and illegal settlements and apartheid.”

Blasphemy, indeed, at least in Mrs. Clinton’s religion. One of her largest and most generous supporters is Haim Saban, a billionaire who has stated that he is a one-issue voter, and that issue is Israel. When asked how much money he plans to donate to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, he responded: “As much as is needed”.

So where does all this leave those poor Democrats, stuck in tents in either Camp B or Camp H as the weather turns increasingly worse? When this writer raises any of these objections to anyone in Camp B (he is so far from Camp H that no one will discuss Mrs. Clinton with him), he is told ‘Yes, but….” That ‘but’ is followed by many comments, sometimes giving the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument (we all know there is no option in the Republican Party), or by the naïve remark that, perhaps we can work to change his mind. Oh yes, we’ve all seen that accomplished frequently in the past. Unfortunately, no such examples readily come to mind, perhaps because none exist.

And then there is the argument that a vote for a third-party candidate is wasted, a throwaway that accomplishes nothing. No, the throwaway is voting to perpetuate the two-party, Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee system that currently exists. Real change will not come from the Republicans or the Democrats; one wonders how much more evidence of that fact is required before it is painfully clear to everyone. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders may not be cut from the exact same mold, but they are slight variations of the same tired old model. The real waste is voting for them, and this writer will not do it.

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

CounterPunch Magazine

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