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A Hillary Clinton presidency won’t particularly affect me. I’m a straight middle-class white woman, and I could continue with my life undisturbed. However, many individuals can’t say the same. Millions of Americans can’t wait for real change. Millions more civilians can’t endure continued drone strikes, blown up hospitals, and unwarranted executions. But they will have to if Clinton is the Democratic nominee.
Clinton supporters argue that refusing to vote for Clinton, if she receives the Democratic nomination, is privileged. I agree. If you abstain from voting in the general election, you’re handing the nomination to the Republican candidate. A GOP presidency is disastrous for women, low-income individuals, the planet, and so on. But, Clinton is not yet the nominee. Supporting her instead of Sanders in the primaries is the embodiment of privilege.
Democrats agree that we must prevent a Republican presidency, and said presidency will negatively impact already marginalized peoples. So, shouldn’t we be campaigning for the person with the best shot of beating the republican nominee? Poll after poll shows Sanders beating Trump, Cruz, and Kasich by significantly larger margins than Clinton does. In the Cruz vs Clinton matchup, RealClearPolitics determined she leads Cruz by an average 3.1 points. Sanders leads Cruz by 9.1 points. In similar fashion, Clinton beats Trump by 10.8. Sanders beats him by 16. In order to prevent a toxic Republican presidency, shouldn’t we support the candidate with the best odds to beat the GOP? LGBTQ individuals will be persecuted under a Republican presidency, which is currently happening under Republican legislation at the state level, and the cycle needs to end– which means voting for the candidate most likely to defeat the GOP.
Despite her being the weaker contender in the general election, the Democratic establishment actively supports Clinton. One would then assume that her ideals align more with the party, but her hawkish foreign policy has no place on the left. She’s a fierce advocate for regime change. From Honduras to Iraq to Libya, Clinton supported throwing out stable dictators and replacing them with American puppets. Chaos subsequently ensued: she doesn’t understand the repercussions of American intervention. Clinton was instrumental in the 2009 Honduras military coup, condemned by the EU and the UN, that threw out the democratically elected leader Manuel Zelaya. The subsequent regimes have been accused of multiple human rights violations and murdering those who advocate for the reinstatement of Zelaya. Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres directly denounced Clinton, referring to her as a meddling North American, for her role in the military coup that de-stabilized the nation. Cáceres said, “We warned [her] that this would be very dangerous,” but Clinton did not listen. Honduras devolved into further violent disarray, and Cáceres was one of these causalities of regime change – she was murdered in March after receiving death threats for years. Clinton points to the ouster of Zelaya as an example of her pragmatic foreign policy approach; most Hondurans disagree.
Zelaya, considered a dictator by some, was flawed but life was far better in Honduras before the coup –as is the case with most American intervention. Zelaya publicly supported gay rights and reproductive autonomy; before the coup, he tried to legalize the morning after pill. Immediately following his removal, the new congress, legitimized by Clinton, voted to ban the morning after pill and punish offenders with up to ten years in prison.
Clinton threw out Zelaya and Muammar Gadhafi while Secretary of State, and she supported the removal of Saddam Hussein. Despite nations erupting in turmoil after intervention, Clinton argues overthrowing Assad is a priority. She learned nothing from her previous blunders, yet these interventions are responsible for unnecessary bloodshed. Overthrowing Assad is sure to be similarly disastrous in an already crumbling region. Instead of focusing on more military coups, we should keep attention in the region to ISIL –a rare occurrence where Cruz and Sanders agree. Even Cruz recognizes the pitfalls of regime change, but Clinton overwhelmingly supports military intervention, no matter the case. She is an unapologetic hawk that does not value the cost of non-American lives.
For instance, Clinton rallied for the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia that killed an estimated 600 civilians. Bill Clinton was reluctant to issue the order, and Hillary admitted “I urged him to bomb.” He listened. She claimed she does not regret her decision.
Not only did she urge her husband to bomb Serbia, she insisted Obama unite with NATO and bomb Libya – a once functioning country reduced to ruins and unrest after US intervention. Clinton’s hawkishness alienated top pentagon officials enough for them to correspond directly, without her knowledge, to Gadhafi’s regime in attempts to render a ceasefire. The regime was willing to negotiate, but Clinton rejected all attempts at peace, much to the horror of her fellow congressmen. Meanwhile, the Clinton-backed rebels committed atrocious human rights violations against supposed loyalists to the Gadhafi regime. Following the leak of her emails, it was revealed that US interest in Libya had little to do with democracy and everything to do with oil and gold. She was never interested in diplomacy, and thousands of Libyans perished as a direct result of her disinterest. After Gadhafi’s violent murder, Clinton joked, “We came, we saw, he died.” I don’t sympathize with him, but the callous joke seems unsettling, to say the least.
It’s no surprise then that in her book, Hard Choices, she praises former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger, who had an arrest warrant filed against him in England for war crimes, is accused of torture and murder in Chile after attempting to overthrow Chile’s democratically elected leader. He conducted clandestine bombings in Laos and Cambodia –a move that lead to eventual genocide – which directly resulted in the death of around 5,000 civilians; around 100,000 were killed in the subsequent Civil War instigated by the bombings. He conspired with Nixon to extend the Vietnam War. Do we want someone who admires these policies as our president?
As Sanders said, “Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this county. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.” Yet Clinton refers to Kissinger as a close friend and values his counsel.
Clinton’s relationship with Kissinger speaks to her war mongering record and unabashed support for drone strokes. She brushes civilian deaths off as a “hard choice” but does not regret these decisions. Can we not expect to see similar actions during her presidency? Not only did she vote for the Iraq War, which Sanders adamantly opposed, but she delivered congressional speeches urging her fellow politicians to do the same. She also endorsed the sanctions against Iraq that starved an estimated 500,000 children to death. Currently, she aims to establish a no-fly zone over Syria and repeat the mistakes of her past. As an American, will our lives be at stake? No. But should our lives matter more than the innocent civilians at risk under a Clinton presidency? Not to mention the trillions of wasted taxpayer dollars funneled into her wars.
In the context of more domestic issues, she can’t be trusted. Time and time again, we’ve heard she’s a flip-flopper. But what exactly does that mean? Clinton will say whatever is popular with the American people to get elected, but vote against her positions once in office. For instance, take the 2011 Panama-US Trade Agreement. She opposed the deal when campaigning against Obama in 2008. But, as Secretary of State, she called it a great deal and endorsed it in 2011. This disastrous trade deal allowed wealthy Americans to evade taxes and limited American prosecution, seen in the recent release of the Panama Papers. On the other hand, Sanders has consistently been against the trade agreement and predicted these outcomes. Other key issues she’s flip flopped on include gay marriage (publicly opposed it in 2004), the Keystone Pipeline, the TPP, etc. It’s also hard to believe Clinton when she says #blacklivesmatter after learning she actively campaigned to elect a segregationist, Berry Goldwater.
Clinton supports fracking, which disproportionately affects low-income and minority communities. She doesn’t support single-payer universal health care, she doesn’t want to break up banks, and she doesn’t support a fifteen-dollar minimum wage. She supported the TPP until recently – a trade deal that is sure to ship thousands of American jobs overseas and make corporate tax evasion even simpler. She fiercely opposed reinstating Glass-Steagall – the law’s repeal lead to the 2008 financial crisis – and prioritizes banks over the people of middle class. Struggling Americans can’t wait for change: they can’t endure eight years of mediocrity and “moderate” policies that are a smokescreen to disguise and protect Clinton’s wealth and ties to Wall Street.
Is Hillary Clinton a better choice than any Republican candidate? Absolutely. But she’s not a good choice. She is a choice made from privilege; a choice made by those who won’t be affected by war mongering, American imperialism, and the shrinking of the middle class. Time and time again, I see people supporting Hillary Clinton who won’t be impacted by her presidency – but millions will.