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hillary_cover-731x1024LUMPENPROLETARIATPreviously, at Lumpenproletariat, we had intended to follow Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president and keep readers posted on the pros and cons of voting for Hillary.  Given the ethical and logical bankruptcy of politically supporting anyone in the reactionary Republican Party, the real question for progressives becomes whether or not to support Hillary Clinton for the Democrat Party presidential nomination or venture further left.  Yet, progressives seem to know Hillary’s clearly the establishment choice for the Democrat Party’s presidential nomination and, thus, the less progressive choice.

Nevertheless, Hillary is currently outpacing Sanders in terms of winning over Democrat Party delegates.  Whilst Bernie Sanders may seem more progressive to many progressives, and attractive because he’s not the establishment choice, the general public seems unconvinced of Sanders’ electability. [1]  Hillary Clinton is banking on such a perception becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Hillary is also banking on hoping that her supporters will accept her rhetoric and political promises without interrogating her political history, without the historical memory to appreciate her political flip-flopping and opportunism.

This is where economic journalist Doug Henwood‘s new book comes in, My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency (2015), which chronicles over four decades of Hillary’s political life.  Those of us who have followed the Clintons’ dynastic career and watched Hillary and her political party, the Democrat Party, fail working class people time and again won’t be surprised by the information chronicled in Doug Henwood’s new book. [2]  But for those who haven’t followed Hillary very closely, or find themselves enamoured of her candidacy for president, this book will go a long way in disabusing any self-respecting progressives, or people of conscience, from supporting Hillary Clinton for any political office, let alone that of president.  Doug Henwood spoke with free speech radio today to discuss My TurnListen (or download) here. [3]



[Transcription by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and UpFront.]

UPFRONT—[29 FEB 2016]  “Good morning, it’s February 29, 2016.  This is UpFront.  I’m Brian Edwards-Tiekert.  On Today’s show:

HILLARY CLINTON:  “They are often the kinds of kids, that are called super-predators—no conscience, no empathy—we can talk about why they ended up that way.  But, first, we have to bring them to heel.”

DOUG HENWOOD:  “She was very enthusiastic about three strikes legislation. She would complain about how long it was taking Congress to pass her husband’s crime bill.  So, well, a lot of Hillary’s apologists will say that you can’t blame her for having supported that because it was her husband’s doing.  And, in fact, she is actually speaking publicly and very aggressively in favour of it.”

BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT:  “Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is running on her experience.  So, what is her record?  Doug Henwood has just released a new book chronicling more than four decades of her life in politics.  And we will discuss it next, after the news.  (c. 1:04)

[News Headlines omitted by scribe] 

BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT:   “It is 7:08 in the morning.  You’re listening to UpFront on KPFA.  My name is Brian Edwards-Tiekert.  And we’re starting with election news this morning.  Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton won the South Carolina Primary by a staggering margin of more than 47 percentage points.  That put her solidly back in the front-runner position, going into tomorrow’s Super Tuesday contests and puts the spotlight back on her.

“We thought this would be a good time to go deep on Hillary Clinton’s record.  She has a longer record than pretty much anyone in the race.  To do that, we invited on Doug Henwood.  He’s editor of the Left Business Observer.  Many of you know him as the host of Behind the News, a programme, that KPFA airs on Thursdays at noon.  He’s also author of a new book about Hillary Clinton called My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency.  We spoke shortly before the primary took place.  Here’s the interview:  (c. 9:01)  Doug Henwood, welcome.”

DOUG HENWOOD:  “Good to be here.”

BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT:   “I wanna start with the overall thesis of the book, which I think is pretty important framing.  You say:  Hillary Clinton is not the problem.  She is exemplary of the problem.  What is the problem in your mind?”

DOUG HENWOOD:  “Well, the problem is, you know, as Bernie’s been railing against for months now, the Establishment, with a capital ‘E’.  She comes out of, and represents, almost perfectly, a system of money and power, that have systematically limited people’s expectations for what government can do, have reduced what the scope of politics down to very minimal reforms, and amplified by a little highafalutin rhetoric.  But people have just come to expect, and accept, stagnant or declining incomes and increasing instability of their economic lives, and just larger problems like ecological crisis, climate change, resignation of that.  She just represents business as usual, very effectively.  She’s a very intelligent, sophisticated representative of business as usual.  But that is what she is.”

BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT:   “But she is proposing some progressive reforms, as part of her campaign platform now, introducing a public option for health care on a state by state basis, a $350 billion dollar overhaul of public college financing, that would make it much more affordable for a large swath of the population to attend colleges and universities.  Do you doubt her sincerity on those issues?”  (c. 10:31)

DOUG HENWOOD:  “Yeah.  As I wrote in the book, I studiously avoided looking at any of her proposals when I was writing the book, of which there weren’t as many of them as there are now, because I just don’t trust a word she says.  She has a long history of saying whatever’s convenient at the moment and not really following through.  I prefer to look at her some-40-year history in politics and try to figure out where her instincts lie and what her principles are.  And I don’t think that’s a very pretty picture.  And just to react to the two things you mentioned, the public option is a little weird.  I just was reading that proposal yesterday and it’s kind of half-baked to start with.  And, then, she ladles a bunch of qualifications on top of it in cooperation with the states—maybe this, maybe that.  So, even in its official form, it’s kind of hard to figure just how serious she is with that.

“But the other thing you also mentioned, also the college tuition, I was just reading that, like, less than an hour ago.  And I couldn’t really understand precisely what she was talking about.  It’s all very high-sounding and vague.  It sounds, in part, like more work-study and more online learning.  But it’s not the kind of thing, that can stir the heart or really transform the way we live.  As I said on Twitter last night, if you compare the [Bernie] Sanders proposal to hers, it’s like free tuition versus something like the i-Tunes User Licence Agreement.  You know?  It’s like pages and pages of incomprehensible prose.  And, despite all that, I still don’t trust what she says.”  (c. 12:07)

BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT:   “But, I suppose her argument for that is her proposals are what’s achievable.  For instance, the public option in health care is something they’re claiming to be able to do within the existing statute, within the Affordable Care Act.”

DOUG HENWOOD:  “That’s a very strange conception of politics, as far as I’m concerned.  I don’t think you succeed in politics by making minimal demands and then pre-accepting further compromises.  I think you succeed in politics by demanding a lot and, then, maybe, making some compromises along the way.

“So, I think that that whole conception of politics, which she and all her apologists and her intellectual supporters, like Paul Krugman’s embrace of the possible, has a deep resignation and pessimism underlying it, that just depresses me to think about.  It is as if expectations have been beaten down now for 30 or 35 years.  But they need to be beaten down further.

“There’s a sense among elite liberals or centrists or Democrats—whatever label we wanna apply to them—that the right is so much in command of the institutions and ideology today that we cannot afford to make anything but minimal demands and wage defensive warfare against their onslaught.  I don’t think that’s the way you win in politics.  You have to come back with strong proposals and fight for them.  That’s something, that Sanders is doing.  That’s something that the right has been doing for 30 or 40 years in American politics.  And they’ve been very successful at it.  I don’t see this strategy of preemptive compromise, which is something that Obama embraced from the very first moment he took office, as being a very fruitful way of trying to improve things.”  (c. 13:41)

BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT:   “Well, let’s talk about her political formation.  By college, she’s off to a promising start.  She writes her undergraduate thesis about the legendary community organiser Saul AlinskyShe interns under a couple of communists in Oakland, while she’s in law school.  One of them was on Pacifica‘s board at the time.  She worked for Marion Wright Edelman after law school.  When does she start to part ways with the left?”

DOUG HENWOOD:  “Well, even in her younger days, in her more radical days, she was never on the extremes.  She was always one for working within the system.  She thought Alinsky was too much of a radical, that the best way to change things was from the inside, not from the outside. [4]  When she decided to go to law school and told Alinsky that, he was very disappointed in her because he didn’t like the insider approach.

“So, we can see where she was going, even in those heady days of the late ’60s/early ’70s, when she was young and still wearing her striped tiffy pants. But she really started changing in the late ’70s in Arkansas when she became a lawyer at the Rose Law Firm, which represented a lot of elite Arkansas interests, such as Walmart and Tyson Foods.  She served at the Walmart board at that point.  And she was also advising and working with her husband, while he was governor.  (c. 15:05)

[SNIP]  (c. 59:51)

Learn more at UPFRONT.

[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, or demand and productive forces, allow.  Contact us to find out how you can help expand and contribute to Lumpenproletariat.org]


[1]  Unfortunately, our news media lack the imagination to question why we must have a single-choice vote, which prevents people from voting their conscience for fear of ‘throwing away their vote’.  As anyone willing to think beyond our current constraints will find, simply moving to ranked-choice voting would mean that all of those interested in voting for Sanders could do so and still pick, say, Hillary Clinton as their second choice (and perhaps another candidate for a third choice as well).  That way, if one’s first choice loses, one’s vote is simply transferred to one’s second choice, and so on.  Imagine that.

Now, you know that more people would vote their conscience if they weren’t forced to choose a single candidate.  With ranked-choice voting, it can be easy to see how Sanders would likely defeat Hillary in such a democratic election.  Unfortunately, the Democratic Party isn’t that democratic in its nomination process.  Perpetuating the electoral status quo has as much to do with shutting out alternative political parties from the cartelised electoral system controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties, as it has to do with ensuring the nomination of an establishment candidate within each corporate political party.

Our current single-choice voting system forces people to choose for the least worst of those choices perceived as having the likeliest chance of winning.  Denying voters ranked-choice voting essentially blocks alternative political parties from gaining political traction because voters are pressured toward the established corporate political parties, such that Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, cannot run for office within an actual socialist party, such as the Peace and Freedom Party.  Anti-democratic barriers to ballot access and Top-Two Primary legislation aside, we can also question the pros and cons of Bernie Sanders’ decision to not publicly question our two-party dictatorship.  Some will argue it is political pragmatism, whilst others will argue it is part and parcel of the problematic nature of aiding and abetting the cartelisation of the electoral process.

[2]  We still haven’t read the book at Lumpenproletariat.org.  But getting a sense of it from listening to Doug Henwood discuss his book on free speech radio KPFA, the Clinton history is consistent with our historical memory over the years.  But we look forward to reading it and updating this article with some relevant notes.  Please leave us your thoughts below if you have read My Turn.

[3]  Terrestrial radio broadcast (with online simulcast and digital archiving), UpFront (94.1 FM, KPFA, Berkeley, CA) for Monday, 29 FEB 2016, 07:00 PDT, during KPFA’s 2016 Winter Fund Drive.  Host Brian Edwards-Tiekert discusses My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the White House with the book’s author, economic journalist Doug Henwood.

[4]  Notable, this is, essentially, the ideology, as far as I can tell, to which UpFront radio host Brian Edwards-Tiekert and his political allies at KPFA subscribe.  Only Doug Henwoods’ and Brian Edwards-Tiekerts historical amnesia or sheer mendacity preclude them from acknowledging this fact during this conversation.  Edwards-Tiekert’s political faction within KPFA has long been aligned with the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, which seeks to transform the Democratic Party from within, in direct contradiction to the majority of activists in and around KPFA, who oppose both corporate political parties, by and large.  This is a strange strategy, if it is to be taken seriously, because even if it were sincere and such activists managed to capture the Democratic Party from within, it would do nothing to change the cartelised nature of a two-party dictatorship, which lacks an open and diverse political system.

This ideological division within KPFA has led to much internecine strife and discord within KPFA and the Pacifica Radio Network.  I’ve been listening to KPFA since before high school in the 1990s, and Brian Edwards-Tiekert and his KPFA faction SaveKPFA, et al., have shown great zeal and enthusiasm in their support for the Democrat Party, including giddy support for Obama’s presidential campaigns.  This interview with Doug Henwood, made inevitable by Bernie Sanders’ race for the Democratic presidential nomination marks a dramatic shift away from shameless apologia for the Democrat Party.


[1 MAR 2016  01:21 PDT]

[Last modified 10:43 PDT  2 MAR 2016]