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 Hillary Clinton speaking at the Apollo Theater on Wednesday, March 30. (Photo: Andrew Dallos/flickr/cc)

Is Hillary Clinton Running Away From Political Reality?

Team Hillary believes that Trump and Cruz are so bad that she can’t lose. People will come out in droves, they argue, to defeat the bad guys. Call it negative enthusiasm.

Les Leopold

Team Hillary should be extremely worried.

It’s not just that she has suffered landslide losses in the past five caucus states. It’s that she’s overwhelmingly lost the youth vote of all colors, everywhere, and she’ll never get it back.

As this new Wisconsin poll shows: Sanders leads Clinton 49% to 43%. Sanders leads among all African-Americans 51% to 40%. Sanders leads among 18 to 45 year olds 65% to 28%.]

Not only is the youth vote incredibly one-sided, but so is the enthusiasm. Hillary’s vulnerabilities with young people include her perceived untrustworthiness, her emails, her vote for the Iraq War, and her shape-shifting establishment politics. But it all gets wrapped up into what she derogatively calls Bernie’s “single issue” — Wall Street.

Bernie and his supporters see Wall Street as synonymous with runaway inequality which is the key issue that connects so many of our problems. As a result, our kids are convinced that we need a massive political revolution. As Robert Reich recently put it:

Such a political revolution is the prerequisite for everything else - reversing climate change, overcoming structural racism, rebuilding the middle class, achieving equal opportunity and upward mobility for the poor, and avoiding cataclysmic war.

Hillary can’t abide by this revolution because it requires a full scale assault on Wall Street, which lavishly has funded her and her campaigns. So she tries to denigrate Bernie’s stance by claiming that his focus on Wall Street-driven runaway inequality is merely a single issue:

If we broke up the big banks tomorrow would that end racism? Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the L.G.B.T. community? Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight.

Her line of attack not only is failing, but also reveals why young people are so unenthusiastic about her — she’s far too tied to Wall Street and the super-rich to ever break from them.

Why the Political Revolution is so threatening to Hillary

Her “single issue” attack is quite revealing. First of all, she claims that Bernie’s assault on runaway inequality amounts only to breaking up the big banks, as if that was the sum total of Bernie’s “single issue.”

To buttress her argument she further fractures the progressive community into a series of single issue groups, each facing a different form of discrimination as if there were no connections among them, or between those issues and the rise of concentrated economic and political power. Just how are we to amass the political power to end institutional racism, for example? Unlike Reich, Hillary has no answer other than elect me and I’ll break all barriers.

Bait and Switch

Hillary’s next move is to switch the conversation away from the concentration of wealth and power on Wall Street. Instead she wants us to believe that our only concern is preventing another financial crash. She argues that her proposals are tougher than Bernie’s on “shadow banking” — hedge funds, private equity companies and the like. Therefore she claims she’s the most effective anti-Wall Street candidate.

Does she really believe this ridiculous slight of hand? Nobody else does.

Bernie and his young followers are not just worried about how to prevent another financial meltdown. They are worried more about the on-going meltdown that siphons our income and wealth into the hands of the few.

"Hillary’s policy pirouettes won’t alter the fact that since the 2007 crash, 95% of all the new income generated in the economy has gone to the top 1%."

We are being financially strip-mined every day — from student loans, to pension rip-offs, to outrageous Wall Street fees for financing state and local government, to hollowed out corporations that ship jobs abroad and slash wages and benefits.

Hillary’s policy pirouettes won’t alter the fact that since the 2007 crash, 95% of all the new income generated in the economy has gone to the top 1%. That’s the financial meltdown we feel each and every day. She and her family do not.

Why Hillary Must View Wall Street as a Narrow Single Issue

When you receive over $9,600,000 in one year for speaking fees from Wall Street and other corporate groups, you just can’t say that runaway inequality is the key issue that’s ruining our lives. After all, Hillary and Bill made over $139,000,000 million over the last decade. They are among the very rich.

If we ever gain access to the contents of her paid speeches, we would see how deeply she shares Wall Street’s world view: They are good people. They are doing their job. Yes, they have a few excesses than can be controlled with smart regulations. No, we should not tax their speculative activities. No, we should not break them up. No, we should not set up public banks, heaven forbid!

But, she can’t ignore Wall Street entirely, try as she may. So she transforms the most powerful economic and political force in the world into a mere “single issue.” And then she implicitly places that single issue on a lower moral plain than racism and sexism. Voila! In her mind, she now captures the high ground by lecturing Bernie about his single-issue focus.

The Dreaded Financial Speculation Tax to fund Free Higher Education

This is where the rubber meets the road. Hillary has to attack both ends of this very popular proposal. First she has to protect Wall Street by opposing the tax. Then she must attack free higher education (which can only be paid for by taxing elite financiers) by claiming we shouldn’t be funding rich kids to go to college. But isn’t that exactly what we do in K through 12? Shouldn’t a tax on Wall Street and progressive taxation in general make her “rich kid” problem go away? Not for Hillary and her Wall Street patrons.

No wonder young people are flocking to Bernie. Hillary can’t stop being The Senator from Wall Street. These are her constituents, her donors. That’s why she has to do policy contortions to keep from hitting Wall Street too hard. That’s why she has no program at all to halt, let alone reverse, runaway inequality.

Hillary Supporters — You should worry hard about enthusiasm

Team Hillary believes that Trump and Cruz are so bad that she can’t lose. People will come out in droves, they argue, to defeat the bad guys. Call it negative enthusiasm. The kids will come out for her too, they reason. What choice do they have?

Well young folks just might do all the stuff that older folks say is totally irresponsible — stay home, write in Bernie, vote for minor third-party candidates. What really drives elections, especially now, is enthusiasm.

The sad fact for Team Hillary is that Bernie has it and she doesn’t. As that spirit comes pouring out from our kids, it becomes infectious. It’s political gold, not to be squandered. Without it, anything can happen — including Hillary losing to a Republican.

As Hillary continues to baby Wall Street with her single-issue nonsense, she moves closer to defeat. She recently managed to lose Utah, Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii by an average of more than 40%. How does Team Hillary explain that away?

It would be far better for the country, if her losing streak gathered steam. It might save us from a President Trump or Cruz.

Here are the hard, cold facts driving this election. The vast majority of Americans detest Wall Street and runaway inequality. Bernie has earned the right to lead that charge... and young people know it.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Les Leopold

Les Leopold

Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute in New York is working with unions, worker centers and community organization to build a national economics educational campaign. His latest book, "Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice" (Oct 2015), is a text for that effort.  His previous book is "The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance destroyed our Jobs, Pensions and Prosperity, and What We Can Do About It" (Chelsea Green/2009).

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