For as long as I can remember, it was my dream to see a woman become the president of United States in my lifetime. When I opened my third grade history book, all I saw were stern looking, powdered haired, aging white men as our presidents. The only notable exception in that array of white men was President John F. Kennedy, who was the youngest president ever elected, who was elected by the slimmest margins ever and was a Roman Catholic. We were all supposed to cheer the fact that an Irish Catholic was finally elected president – against all odds – never mind the fact that his father Joseph Kennedy Sr. was a millionaire and bought the presidency for his son. Regardless, Kennedy broke the barrier of needing to be a WASP in order to become president. It didn’t sit right with me at the third grade and it doesn’t sit right with me now. What was obviously missing from the line up of presidents was a black president and a woman president or a combination of both. It was so glaring that it was screaming at me from my history book, even in the 1990s.
I came of age during Bill Clinton’s presidencies. It was when I first became aware of politics, feminism and equality. Hillary Clinton was a First Lady like no other. I admired her. She refused to stay home and bake cookies and dared to say it out loud. I liked that. It appealed to my nascent feminism and that girls should (not just could but should) aspire to more than finding a good husband, having babies and making his favorite meals. Life for a woman is more than keeping her man happy and that women are not to invest all of her happiness and emotional well being in her marriage and family. Even when she was just First Lady, it was obvious who our first female president might be should we get the opportunity to elect one.
That opportunity has arrived, fifteen years after her husband left the office of the presidency of the United States; Hillary Rodham Clinton, barring any serious missteps in the general election, will be our next president. She will be our first female president after 44 men have come before. But I do not feel the joy that I expected to feel.
Hillary Clinton almost got the nomination eight years ago, she missed the nomination so narrowly. I supported her over Barack Obama, I was with her. I felt suckered punched to the stomach when she lost the nomination. It was so close. Back then, I just wanted any woman to be president, I never really looked into her donor contributions, her large speaking fees from Wall Street, her connections to Wall Street, Walmart and other criminal organizations. Her underhanded campaign against Obama – inciting racism and Islamophobia was something I overlooked as part and parcel of running a contentious campaign. The glaring mistake which cost her the nomination is her ‘Yes’ vote in the senate for the invasion of Iraq, whereas Obama voted ‘No’ and he took that to the bank with him.
Since those 8 years she’s served as Secretary of State under President Obama’s first term in office. The invasion of Libya and the killing of Muammar Qadaffi destabilized the region. Libya is now a failed state, the arms cache and chemical weapons that was in Libya made its way to Syria, which are now being used by US proxies. She is for the removal of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria for the sole purpose letting Israel have nuclear monopoly in the region and to break up the Hezbollah, Iran and Assad alliance. She instigated and supported a proxy war between the Gulf States and Syria, and as a result, today, half of the Syrian population have been internally and externally displaced. Her military adventurism doesn’t just end there, she supported the right-wing military coup in Honduras, which has seen the country descend into a lawless land where activists are being killed left and right.
At least 174 LGBT persons have been killed in Honduras since 2009. According to Global Witness, 101 environmental activists were murdered between 2010 and 2014, including Berta Cáceres, a fearless environmentalist who fought for indigenous land rights and who was assassinated in her home in March. In 2014, Cáceres called out Clinton for her role in the 2009 coup, saying, “We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it. It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, ‘Hard Choices,’ practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country.”
These are the actions of war criminals. The fallout from these actions are nothing short of genocidal killings. Iraq, Libya, Syria and Honduras all had legitimate governments in place before US intervention or invasion. The disastrous vote in for the Iraq invasion was not a one time lapse of judgement, intervening in other countries for the sake of United States national interest (which include a whole host of questionable and immoral things) and the interest of our oil rich Gulf allies and her own personal self interest is her modus operandi for foreign policy.
Hillary Clinton considers herself a feminist, and “women’s rights are human rights”. She claims to have spent her career in public service advocating for women and children, but which women and children? Only certain American women and children? Do Central American women and children not count? How about Mexican women and children? How about the Palestinian people? Libyan people? Syrian people? Iraqi people? The Honduran people, especially now after the military coup of 2009 life has become impossible for most people to live there. Are these people not included in her umbrella of activism? Are the lives of Iraqi, Libyan, Syrian and Honduran women and children less valuable than those of American ones? How can anyone call themselves a feminist when she is friends with someone who thinks that it was “worth it” that 250,000 Iraqi children died as a result of Western sanctions. The Western sanctions imposed on Iraq by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright didn’t bring down Saddam Hussein, he was brought down by an armed invasion by US forces with far superior military equipment. When did collective punishment of civilians for the actions of one dictator become an acceptable moral choice? Hillary Clinton’s unwavering support of Israel, who have brutalized Palestinians for 70 years all on the phony premise of ‘security’ and preventing another Holocaust when Israel is the one that is carrying out the ethnic cleansing. How can that be justified?
In the domestic sphere, President Bill Clinton passed NAFTA, which hollowed out the American middle-class when factories moved their operations to Mexico or South East Asia to avoid dealing with worker’s unions. Small Mexican family farmers lost their farms to large scale industrialized farming thus precipitating a migration northward to the United States. The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 eroded the safety net for the poorest of Americans, most of which happen to be people of color. His criminal justice reform bill oversaw the largest increase in mass incarcerations of people of color, with Hillary Clinton referring to underage offenders as “predators” needing to be brought “to heel” – like a dog. This is to justifying giving children adult sentences in adult prisons. These are the actions of her husband, but she supported them and advocated for them at the time.
This time around Hillary Clinton has structured her campaign not on her positions on the issues or her past record, because they are terrible and untenable when compared to Bernie Sanders, but the campaign is all based on identity politics. Vote for me because I am a woman and I represent women’s issues and issues concerning minorities – but I get to pick which issues and which minorities are important. And if you happen to be a woman and not support me then you are not supportive of women in general. According to the same friend that felt it was acceptable that 250,000 Iraqi children died under Western sanctions, there’s also “a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.” If there’s indeed a special place in hell for such things, I’d imagine Madeline Albright would already have a place there since she subjected the mothers of those 250,000 Iraqi children to untold grief and pain. The woman card in this campaign has been used to justify every attack and criticism, especially those that came from the direction of other white men. When Bernie Sanders didn’t quit his campaign yesterday, one of Hillary Clinton’s surrogates (Hill-bots) Amanda Marcotte wrote a piece in Salon that Bernie Sanders is “coasting on male privilege”. How this argument is logical or how it pertains to anything, I’ll let the readers decide. It’s also slightly hypocritical since Hillary Clinton also took her campaign to the Democratic Convention in 2008 where she formally released her delegates.
In 2008 where I felt hopeful and euphoric at the idea the Democratic nominees for president was a woman and a black man, and ultimately we got our first black president. I felt that something really good was about to happen, even though we were in the depths of a really bad recession. There is usually a wide gulf between expectation and reality and the reality is President Obama fell short of a lot of expectations and was a big disappointment in many areas. But for a brief moment there, there was great hope, great expectations and progressives felt that there was a chance at real change. Eight years later, when there is finally a viable female candidate for president. I can’t get excited about it. Eight years ago, I was ready to settle for any woman for president, now I want the right woman for president, a woman I can vote for and feel good about casting my first vote for America’s first female president. In my view, Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t the right woman.
To all of her supporters, I congratulate them. I wish I could feel an ounce of what they feel and jump on the Hillary for President bandwagon, but I am going to have to sit this one out.