Monday, August 08, 2016

Clinton and the turn to the right

Beverly Mann is concerned about pundits' (a term which must be used very loosely when referring to Friedman) exhortations that Hillary Clinton move to the right to capture Republicans disaffected by Trump. Paul Krugman is equally concerned.

They are missing the point. Clinton wants to move to the right; Friedman is trying (probably by accident) to provide intellectual and ideological cover.

Krugman spent the entire primary season trying to undermine Sanders' reforms, and now he exhorts Clinton to support them. Wait, what? If Clinton does support Sanders' reforms, it won't be because of Krugman. It will be because the Sanders wing of the party, voters and elected officials, uses its power to push for them.

Clinton is a 1960s Republican. She's pro-business, pro-"free" trade, pro-war, anti-labor, anti-union, anti-poor. She will protect the capitalists and the upper levels of the professional-managerial class, including women and people of color, but without concerted pressure from progressives, she will do nothing but the most egregious tokenism for anyone outside that group.

She will will not end the mass incarceration and police murder of black people; instead, she will give good jobs to a few BlackLivesMatter leaders and neutralize the organization. She will make sure that rich and middle-class women can get safe and legal abortions, but if a poor woman in Mississippi has to travel for 8 hours — twice — to find a clinic, well, that's just too bad. She might eliminate public college tuition — that's a giveaway to the tenured academic class — but she will do nothing to make sure those students have good jobs when they graduate. (And the real expense of college is not tuition, it's trying to eat and pay rent while studying.) She might raise the minimum wage, but only by a little and do nothing to prevent the raise from being expropriated by landlords and businesses. She will do nothing to interfere with health insurance profits from the PPACA, and do nothing to improve access to actual medical care currently unaffordable to the working poor. And, of course, she will continue to murder brown people in the Middle East, torture suspected "terrorists", and strengthen the surveillance state.

On the one hand, the collapse of the Republican party is an opportunity for Clinton. She can run on the scary Trump! platform, and say nothing substantive about her actual administration, and make no important commitments. If she's smart, and she is, and she has the stomach for it, which she might, she will do everything to make sure the progressive Sanders wing of the party is marginalized or outright purged.

But scary Trump! is also an opportunity for progressives. (Chaos is a ladder, right?) Progressives can hold their noses, vote for Clinton, but work like crazy to strengthen the progressive wing. Win congressional and senatorial races. Take control of state legislatures. Win governorships. The collapse of the Republican party makes these efforts much easier. Don't give in to the Republican-lite wing of the party, especially in local races. It is doable.

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