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Name the Dangerous Candidate

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To use a metaphor appropriate for the age, the big guns are being brought out to keep the unitary Presidency in Democrat hands. The term itself, in recent incarnation a (Dick) Cheneyism indicating the neo-royalist tendency to tamp-down every democratic tendency that might interfere with smooth operation of the heavily militarized corporate-state, indicates that something might be amiss in the land of the free. It is ironic-lite that the leader of ‘the people’s Party,’ Barack Obama, institutionalized the concept.

Fears of a petulant, know-nothing, hate-monger channel the id-monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on its inexorable path toward death and destruction. Forgotten in the moment is the accumulation of acts that motivated the monster along its course. Also forgotten is Hannah Arendt’s Adolf Eichmann, bureaucrat to the stars, who knew the language and method, if not the motive. Be it a hostile corporate takeover or bombing a nation into oblivion, Herr Eichmann could competently write the memo.

For those who have been paying attention, recent Wikileaks disclosures from Hillary Clinton’s emails are vindication of sorts. Mrs. Clinton’s distinction between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ views might be explained away if it weren’t for the link between her actual policies and her ‘inside’ views, those she shares with the well-heeled and connected. And given the revelations, it is increasingly odd to hear her supporters continue to list her ‘outside’ views, the cynical nonsense she feeds her nominal constituency, as a platform of sorts.

The distinction is more interesting than has generally been considered. Barack Obama is a master of saying one thing and doing another. For seven plus years his supporters fed back what he said without apparent knowledge that it didn’t match his actions. Hillary Clinton actually matches her words to her actions for the ‘right’ audience— she says what she means. But the ‘right’ audience consists of Wall Street insiders and corporate executives. The audience that gets fed her ‘outside’ views, a/k/a cynical nonsense, consists of her loyal supporters.

Far from supporting the anarcho-Republican theory that all politicians lie, Mrs. Clinton both lies and tells the truth with purpose. Given the monumental economic meltdown that Wall Street (capitalist) ‘self-regulation’ so recently caused, Mrs. Clinton’s continued support for it suggests that she is either stupid, has a viable alternative hypothesis as to the cause, or is simply regurgitating the ‘inside’ theories that bank PR departments began floating in 2010 that some combination of ‘government regulations’ and ‘nature’ caused the crisis.

Were so many lives and livelihoods not at stake, the tribal narratives that Mrs. Clinton advances on the ‘inside’ would be of sociological interest. Here again is an opportunity to defer to (Antonio) Gramsci’s theory of hegemony as social explanation that supports ruling class interests. For the uninitiated, a long and robust history of financial crises caused by financiers run amok is available to draw from. Economist Hyman Minsky, following in history from Marx and Lenin, developed much modern theory to explain financial crises.

But Mrs. Clinton wants none of it. Whereas Donald Trump is unleashed id acting through privilege he was born into, Hillary Clinton is the chair-occupying bureaucrat for whom truth is whatever mutually agreed upon chatter will get her from one meeting to the next. There are multitudinous ‘facts’ arranged in lawyerly fashion to support said chatter, but it is subtext that ties acts to motives. Enterprise exists to make a few people rich, the military exists to launch wars and government exists to organize both into a coherent unity.

What reads as banal twaddle in Mrs. Clinton’s paid speeches has tribal (class) subtext. Acceptance of the primacy of finance to ‘the economy,’ a ‘light’ regulatory touch and economically purposive foreign entanglements are the dictates of enterprise reframed as ‘policies.’ The oft-made contention that Hillary Clinton is a committed neoliberal, neo-conservative ideologue is more precisely stated as backward induction, with help from Powerpoint presentations and canned talking points, of ruling class interests.

What makes this particularly frightening in the geopolitical arena is the posing of highly engineered outcomes as self-generated offenses. In this creative-reactive view ISIS arose from ideological hatred of ‘the West,’ Syria is in the throes of a people’s revolution for freedom from tyranny and Israel is a bastion of freedom and democracy in an otherwise savage and hostile land. As self-generated / motivated undertakings effect is eternally put forward as cause, as Frankenstein’s creation in transit from outcast to monster.

The question not being asked by Democrats and their reluctant supporters on the wilting Left is why the entirety of officialdom supports Mrs. Clinton? Assertion that Donald Trump is a petulant, know-nothing, hate-monger requires isolating him from the predominance of American history. Put differently, since when does the American establishment not like petulant, know-nothing, hate mongers? Bill Clinton went to a Ku Klux Klan historical site to racialize his ‘war on crime.’ Three million Vietnamese died to keep Richard Nixon in office. Curtis LeMay anyone? Anyone?

The delusion in evidence from the ‘vote for Hillary and then give her hell’ crowd is that there is any hell she could be given, other than not voting for her, that would matter? Given the basis of her ‘inside’ views in the tribal chatter of the rich and powerful, what would her response be to disapprobation from the self-neutered powerless other than to offer her ‘outside’ views? Put differently, what has it been to date? Once alternative universes are set to the side, it is the American political system that is on full display with the choice of candidates.

The thesis now regularly trotted out that it is the candidates that are the problem presents the larger question of why this might be (is) the case. As philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey had it, the purpose of the present is rendered evident as history unfolds. Alternatively, who might be better— Joe Biden versus Ted Cruz? Max Baucus versus Rick Santorum? And the Democrats are either holding Bernie Sanders’ family hostage with guns to their heads or his complicity in the unfolding electoral charade illustrates the bounds of political resolution through official channels.

Were Mrs. Clinton’s ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ views different by degree, rather than type, appeals through public protest might shift tenor, if not substance. In contrast, when it comes to issues of the environment, the economy and war and peace, ‘outside’ views are tools to facilitate ‘inside’ actions. In some vague sense (insert name of Democratic candidate here) would probably like to address global warming. Mrs. Clinton would also like to deregulate industries (per her emails) and enter into sovereignty-forfeiting trade agreements.

Lest this remain unclear, Hillary Clinton’s differentiated views correspond to conflicting class interests. The Clinton’s policies reflect a veritable wish list of implausible corporate cliches like ‘self-regulation,’ ‘free-trade’ and ‘personal responsibility’ with regard to labor, the environment and social safety net programs. These policies make evident that ‘inside’ views correspond to intended policies and ‘outside’ views are to garner votes with bluster and bullshit.

A veritable cottage industry has arisen in recent weeks decrying the self-destructive act of voting for Donald Trump, as if blind rage were the sole consideration behind the vote. As Hillary Clinton’s emails suggest, the restorative candidates were systematically removed from contention by the major Party establishments. The Clinton camp chose Donald Trump as their preferred opponent because he is a petulant, know-nothing hate-monger. How reckless does that make the Democratic Party establishment?

Other than Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, the candidates in contention are hardly worth a mention in-and-of-themselves. They represent the political zeitgeist, no more and no less. What makes them dangerous is the loaded gun of the militarized corporate-state they are vying to manage. Given the systemic inability to address, let alone resolve, global warming, potential nuclear annihilation, rampant militarization, systematic social repression and economic exclusion, the candidate with the most palatable ‘outside’ views has received the establishment’s stamp of approval. Which is the dangerous candidate?

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Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is published by CounterPunch Books.

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