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Hillary Clinton: It’s the politics, stupid

Hillary_Clinton_speaking_at_the_Brown_&_Black_Presidential_Forum Gage Skidmore - Flickr CC-BY-SA 2.0 bullshit was called on Hillary Clinton’s cheerleaders. You know what I’m talking about, the avalanche of comment saying that she must win the Democrat nomination for presidency, regardless of her record and views. And to a piece those defences are, at best, willfully clueless, and, at worst, bad faith.

Before we go there, let’s get the caveats in. Were I a registered Democrat with a vote at an upcoming caucus, my support would go to Bernie Sanders. This is because his politics are closer to mine than Hillary Clinton’s, and the chance of him burying the Republican contender – whoever that dysfunctional oaf turns out to be – are roughly the same as Hillary’s. For the record, despite having politics closer to Jeremy Corbyn on most issues, during the mass primary that was the Labour leadership campaign, I ended up voting voting for Yvette Cooper on the grounds that she was the candidate most likely to best the Tories. Obviously, I appreciate the majority of readers would disagree. Nevertheless, I’m sure everyone would accept that Jeremy saw off Yvette and Liz not because they were women or the party is irredeemably sexist, but because of his platform. It’s not rocket science.

Which is what makes the imputed sexism suggested by Hillary’s defenders so infuriating. Take Sophy Ridge’s view. Going through a brief potted history about women going for high office, she laments that Hillary has bucketloads of experience, is eminently qualified for high office, before noting that the rug has been pulled from under her: “Clinton has jumped through the hoops set for her – proving herself as a Senator and Secretary of State, extricating herself from her husband’s shadow – only to be told that she’s been doing it all wrong.”

The same is true of a very similar piece in the New Statesman by Sarah Ditum, who suggests Hillary is being forced to live up to higher standards on account of being a woman. While it is true she has suffered appalling sexism throughout her career, to suggest her record should be ignored because she is a woman (“women have the right to political office exactly as men do, and that means that we can do it well or badly, feministly or unfeministly – just as men have been doing for millennia. Women are entitled to be wrong and mediocre sometimes”) is sheer tokenism and, one might suggest, contrary to the spirit of what feminism is about.

And then there is the truly idiotic missives from Gloria Steinem and Madelaine Allbright. For Gloria, one of the most influential and important feminists alive, to suggest young women are going for Bernie Sanders over Hillary because they’re thinking “where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie…” is hardly going to endear young women to these arguments. For Madelaine, it’s a case of their “being a special place in Hell for women who don’t help each other”, clearly indicating that women Democrats should do their sisterly duty.

This is frustrating, but not at all surprising. The heart of the matter is politics are changing. As the old solidarities underpinning the old politics pass into the night, so-called values voters (or, indeed, non-voters) appear to be growing in number. This isn’t a cunning ruse to keep a woman from entering the White House as someone other than the First Lady, but a result of long-term demographic changes afflicting all Western liberal democracies. As far as “values” left wing voters are concerned, it’s not enough to back someone who will do things that are damaging to our people just because they’re not the conservative candidate, they want someone who reflects their policy preferences and priorities. Hillary is an experienced figure and competent politician more than capable of doing the job, but what matters most for those young women in Iowa who neglected to lend her their votes is politics.

Yes, Hillary is establishment politics, and she’s being judged on the basis of them. Were she to be President, it’s unlikely America would look much different after two Hillary terms, what with its rising inequality, demonisation of immigrants, acute pathological social anxieties, awful treatment of the poor and carte blanche for big business to run rampant. She has many supporters down Wall Street for a reason. And, lest we forget, while Bernie Sanders has forced her to tack to the left in some instances, one position she hasn’t rolled back was on social security. Seeing as cuts to state support disproportionately hit women, it’s telling that her supporters instructing women to vote for the woman are blind to the tens of millions of women at the sharp end, women whose only media exposure is when the cameras come to ogle them and use them as the butt of hypocritical morality tales. Do they then stand to gain more, and be empowered by the policies and action (and inactions) of a Hillary or Bernie presidency? I think the answer is so obvious it’s testing the reader’s patience to have to spell it out.

This article first appeared at All that is Solid

Image credit: Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore – Flickr CC-BY-SA 2.0 


  1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

    I have to say whether chauvinistically or not, the one thing that irritates me most is when right wing women claim as the last vestige of a women’s duty is to vote for me, because I am a woman and can beat any man.

    Yvette Cooper doesn’t serve women’s interests with her Neo-Liberal ideology, and thankfully I think most saw through her, like Hilary Clinton she serves Business interests, the two are entirely incompatible.

    The fundamental political basis over the last forty years has been that business interests must take priority, in fact, in a democracy people are the over-riding priority. That is why our economy has impoverished people and stagnated, career politicians have made themselves surplus to requirements and they still think they are clever enough to spin their way in life.

  2. David Ellis says:

    She is the pointless candidate. Sitting in the middle as a great polarization takes place. I see the polls show Bernie beating Trump by a lot more than Clinton would.

  3. James Martin says:

    But isn’t one of the issues here is that in the US middle class identity politics and tokenism are far larger and influential than in the UK (although similar feminist points were made about Corbyn and Watson of course)? This after all is the land that invented ‘political correctness’ (spit) and positive affirmation that while benefiting some middle class women and ethnic minorities has done nothing at all for the millions of working class women, blacks and Hispanics. And this is where the Sanders campaign hasthe potential to be so exciting in the way the Corbyn one was, although whether he can break through all the ‘special interest’ groups to build a genuine rainbow coalition of the oppressed remains to be seen. Certainly given the particular issues that have affected US racism and anti-Semitism if this Brooklyn born son of Jewish immigrants can rally black workers behind his campaign it will be one of the most startlingly progressive things that has happened in US politics in a great many decades.

    1. James Martin says:

      I think this one campaign video says so much about what is happening here (and it is profound) – Hillary Clinton could never do a campaign message like this, could never do anything in fact that at the end of it you just say ‘wow’:

  4. Bazza says:

    In the absence of a US Labor of course I hope Bernie Sanders wins but he is up against the democratic establishment and Hilary’s Big Bucks!
    Of course both parties rule for Big Business but as someone once said which I think applies to the US there I an inch of differnce between the Democrats and Republicans, but that inch is important!
    I have always felt that Black America (and areas like Ferguson) need a US Labor as do he US working class/working people and hopefully Bernie is helping to plant a seed.
    It is fascinating how much of the Republican base has been captured by the Tea Party (funded by Big Business) and right wing Christian fundamentalists – hence their massive interference in people’s private lives re a woman’s right to choose, planned parenthood and even vaccinations!
    But for all the Repulsive Republican rhetoric they would use Big US Government massive state intervention to help the rich, screw the poor, and to interfere in people’s private lives.
    So Go Bernie! But it will be difficult.

  5. Will says:

    Always somthing of a dilemma, do I vote for the candidate closest to my own view and risk getting someone appalling, or vote for a safe middle of the road Candidate who is most likely to win?

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