Hillary Clinton (www.newyorker.com).
by Steve Timmer
May 15, 2016, 3:00 PM

There once was a gal named Hill’ry

Even though LeftMN is primarily a state politics website, and even though we are drawing close to the constitutionally-mandated close of the Minnesota Legislature – so there is plenty to talk about there – I am irresistibly drawn to the contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. As readers here know, I am a fan of Bernie Sanders, as well as a sharp critic of the DNC and things like the Hillary Victory Fund, a patently transparent circumvention of campaign finance law.

There is a lot of gaslighting going into making Bernie supporters give up. But they don’t seem to be giving up, and the Clinton partisans are becoming shriller in their denunciation of the FOBs (Fans of Bernie) – at least I think that’s what they call them, but I am a little hard of hearing – for not lining up behind the candidate of establishment and entitlement.  A lot of FOBs are soft supporters of the Democratic Party and independents; of course, the latter being free agents who were also frozen out of the closed primaries where Clinton has done the best.

At the risk of repetition – well, it is repetition, but a worthwhile observation, I think – consider the fact that Hillary Clinton, who has been running for president for ten years, with at least the skeleton of a campaign organization existing in every state for the whole time, cannot easily dispatch a 74 year-old, slightly-disheveled, Jewish guy from Brooklyn. And never mind that she loses the Millennial demographic (which isn’t a big supporter of political parties generally) to him four to one. The Millennials are voting for Grandpa.

These are remarkable facts, especially that young people see Grandpa as their future. This seems counterintuitive, but it isn’t. It isn’t, because Grandpa has put his finger on an essential truth: economic inequality will kill the country if it isn’t reversed. To many Millennials, this is an existential issue, not only for the country, but for them personally, too. Looking forward to serving a lifetime of student debt peonage on what you can make as an Uber driver would make you a radical, too. You can’t blame the kids for oiling up the wheels on the tumbrels.

Bernie has said we should make public college tuition free, as it darn near was when he and I both went to college. Hillary said, Oh, no, we can’t do that; it’s too expensive! After being greeted by a chorus of Millennial boos, she relented and said, Well, okay, two free years. Good old Halfway Hillary; she could triangulate the rising of the sun.

Trade agreements have contributed to the decimation of manufacturing in the U.S. Reports are that Hillary supported the Trans Pacific Partnership before she was against it, but a Chamber of Commerce lobbyist said some time ago that we shouldn’t worry; she’ll be onboard after the election. Does anyone really doubt that?

Remember the apposite precedent? When Hillary’s hubby Bill was running for the first time, he said he was against the North American Free Trade Agreement, unless it was substantially modified to include meaningful labor and environmental protections. Recall, this was the election (1992) when Ross Perot ran on the “giant sucking sound,” and he took enough votes away from George H.W. Bush to swing the election to Bubba. Also recall that the NAFTA was signed by Clinton, without material changes, after the election. Like groom, like bride, methinks.

In fact, Bill Clinton, and by extension Hillary, too, play an outsized role in the predicament in which we find ourselves. Bill Clinton worked on the McGovern campaign in Texas in 1972, for Gary Hart, McGovern’s campaign manager, another fellow with interesting propensities. They were both part of a movement in the Democratic Party at the time to shuffle off the party’s affection for and reliance on labor, especially organized labor — labor was just a bunch of New Deal deadenders — and move it to the party of the educated professionals and the technocrats, the people that John Ralston Saul came to call Voltaire’s Bastards (and not in a nice way).

Organized labor and working people in general were so passé. Bill and Gary and Lanny wanted the Democratic Party to be just like them! Great thinkers. Oh, they still wanted the votes of working people, but they shouldn’t expect too much in return.

Mount Olympus for these New Democrats was not GM or Proctor and Gamble. It was Wall Street.*

(These last few paragraphs owe a debt of gratitude to Thomas Frank and his new book, Listen Liberal.)

And the labor-ectomy in the Democratic Party is pretty complete. The two Democratic presidents elected since 1980 were Ivy League lawyers, and its leadership really wants to advance a third. The current occupant of the office actually hired the talentless, technocratic hack Arne Duncan to make war on organized labor, the teachers. Democrats actually take more money from Wall Street than the Republicans do.

When the Democrats decided they wanted to move up the food chain, it left working people without a voice. The results have been entirely predictable. But I think the chickens are coming home to roost.

My social media feeds are full of Clinton supporters howling about how it’s Bernie’s fault that people don’t like Hillary – I mean, after all, even Barack Obama said she was likeable enough. And think of the Supreme Court! they say. But if you are looking at a lifetime of debt with little chance of advancement, or having your little industrial town swept away in some shiny new trade deal that benefits the Wall Street contributors to the Democratic Party, you are not likely to give a rat’s ass.

As I say, Bernie put his finger on it. And you know who is in second place in this think off? Donald Trump. That’s the candidate preference order of probably a lot of voters, too.

I’ll finish with this little bit of doggerel:

There once was a gal named Hill’ry;
Wall Street supplied her artill’ry.
We hastened to learn
What she gave in return,
Then sent her to live in a nunn’ry.

*If [Bill] Clinton’s posture toward the Democratic Party’s base was frosty, his attitude toward Wall Street, his party’s onetime archenemy, was the opposite: a combination of enthusiastic support and practiced obsequiousness.

Frank, Thomas. Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? (p. 83). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

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