Confessions of a Life-long Fenimist
March 10, 2016
by Toni Tweedle Healy
Some of my Democratic friends are angry with me that I’m supporting Bernie in this primary race. I’m sorry about that, but I don’t buy into the conventional wisdom that he can’t win and Hillary can in this bizarre anti-establishment cycle. This post isn’t about that. It’s about my feelings about the real issues presented in this primary campaign and what they mean to the future of the Democratic Party and the country.
I identify with Hillary for many reasons. I’m an older woman. I’m a Democrat. I’m a lawyer. I loved her tenacity as first lady and admired her greatly. She didn’t relegate her role in the White House of the 90’s to typical first lady issues that kept her out of the gunsights of the vast right wing conspiracy-mongers. She approached policy issues head on and with a zest that few first ladies have shouldered. She’s a well-educated, brilliant policy wonk. She fully supported her husband’s policies by developing legislation, lobbying congress, and giving public speeches promoting those policies. She’s competent and experienced. It’s all on record.
My admiration for her is all about her fearless insistence on being an equal partner with her husband in all matters political. I’m a lot like her in that respect. So why am I depressed about the fact that she may become the nominee of the Democratic Party this election cycle? It’s not that I’m concerned about her weakness as a candidate. It’s not about the fact that she can’t give a decent speech to save her life. It’s not really about the fact that she is not a very good politician. Bernie has many weaknesses as well. I recognize that the socialism thing could become an albatross in the general election.
If Hillary gets the nomination this cycle, I will feel dispirited and alienated from what the Democratic Party has become in the early 21st Century and what it portends for the party’s future. I loved that Hillary involved herself in policy as first lady; I just didn’t like the policies.
Hillary is the ultimate neo-liberal politician, and I think neo-liberalism has been bad for the country. Free trade agreements have decimated the middle class. Reaganomics began the process, neo-liberalism perpetuated it. President Clinton’s economic policies – that Hillary supported and promoted – of deregulation, free-trade, welfare reform, the overturning of Glass-Stiegel, and “the era of big government is over” capitulation to right wing, trickle down philosophy did nothing for the people the Democratic Party used to represent. The party has abandoned the working class in favor of the corporate class. The fact that Hillary is so tone deaf on these issues that she would think it was OK to make millions of dollars giving speeches to big Wall Street firms only adds to my feelings of alienation.
I’ve scoured her web page and I don’t see a single policy that tells me that she gets it or that she’s changed her philosophy on this. She doesn’t even support a real public option for Obamacare that was so easily abandoned in the capitulation to huge insurance companies that Obamacare became. She mouths the words she has learned from Bernie and Elizabeth Warren about the middle class, but her policies don’t match them.
And then there’s her position on wars. She’s an interventionist. She believes in regime change. Her policies are closer to the neo-con hawks than the traditional doves of the Democratic Party. I honestly believe that a vote for Hillary is a vote for perpetual war.
Why are the party elites so blind to how they’ve abandoned the egalitarian principles of the Party of the New Deal and the Great Society? It’s not just Hillary; it’s so many of the supposedly progressive politicians we all vote for.
Sorry, I’m a bit depressed about this. Supporting Bernie for me is about taking our party back from the corporatist leaders that abandoned us. Yes, I’m a feminist, but I’m not a vagina voter. I have a brain, and I’m not afraid to call myself a liberal. Yes, I’ll vote for her in the general if it comes to that; I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot and lose the Supreme Court for another generation. But I’ll have no reason to believe that anything will change.