photo by Flickr user Nathaniel F
A lot of people are going to notice the irony tomorrow night when Hillary Clinton, after a 24-year campaign, accepts the presidential nomination of what can fairly be called the un-Democratic Party.
While opponents have freely labeled Donald Trump a fascist and a threat to American constitutional government, he won the Republican nomination in a fair contest and despite the vocal and sustained opposition of many of the party’s power centers. A candidacy initially given almost no chance of success became the people’s choice – or at least the choice of the largest number of people who bothered to take part in GOP primaries and caucuses.
Clinton, on the other hand, was always the prohibitive favorite to get the Democratic nomination, but that was not enough. She transparently compromised the Democratic National Committee and its chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who along with other senior staff went out of their way to undermine Bernie Sanders’ longshot candidacy. In true Clintonian fashion, Wasserman Schultz and other party functionaries denied what was obvious to everyone, none more than the Sanders campaign, up until last week’s WikiLeaks email dump documented the lies. All prior statements then became inoperative and Wasserman Schultz promptly walked the plank on Clinton’s behalf.
The Clintons routinely corrupt nearly everything they touch, and always in furtherance of the same end: the acquisition of a political office that can be monetized. A governorship for young Bill was accompanied by his wife’s rise to partner in a politically active Little Rock law firm, and opportunistic financial deals in which the Clintons always seemed to make money or avoid losses. A presidential nomination in 1992 in which his wife was advertised as part of the package deal. The repeated rental of the Lincoln Bedroom. The pardon of Marc Rich. A greased path to a Senate seat in New York, a state where Hillary Clinton had no prior personal or political connection. A position as secretary of state as a consolation prize after the 2008 campaign, which served President Obama’s interest (fulfilling the adage of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer) while allowing Clinton a platform to buff her credentials, employ her supporters and prepare for her 2016 run.
And that’s before we even talk about the Clintons’ ostensibly philanthropic activities that drew on support from foreign governments with whom Clinton dealt while she served as a cabinet officer.
So of course there was nothing especially democratic in the Democrats’ nominating process this time around. There wasn’t supposed to be. In the Clintons’ view of the world, contests should always be fair as long as the Clintons win. If not, c’est la vie. Any defeat or setback is clearly a sign of unfairness, or as some might put it, a vast right-wing conspiracy.
There is particular irony in the fact that Clinton, with good reason, suspects and – through her proxies – accuses Russia of trying to tilt the electoral playing field in Trump’s favor by hacking the DNC and subsequently releasing the documents. My guess is that, more likely than not, she is correct that the Russians are involved, although probably few other than Vladimir Putin could accurately explain their goals and motivations.
The Clintons always draw on the support of their friends, whether at Goldman Sachs or the DNC or the Saudi palace. The expression “friends of Bill” did not crop up out of nowhere, and being the Clintons’ friend often means being a friend with benefits, in pretty much every sense of that expression. While Trump himself doubtless had nothing whatever to do with either the DNC hack or the subsequent WikiLeaks document dump, the fact that it may have involved a foreign power and benefitted her opponent clearly strikes Clinton as outrageous. On the other hand, she would graciously accept testimonials and other campaign support from abroad if such acceptance could be accomplished without anyone going to jail.
The DNC emails told us nothing we did not already know. The Clintons corrupted and co-opted their party apparatus. The rules were designed to let Sanders run but not to let him win. Superdelegates served the useful function of ensuring Clinton’s candidacy, regardless of primary voters. The Clintons let others take the heat for the unfairness of it all and, when things got too hot, they dumped Wasserman Schultz without a second thought. (Although if Wasserman Schultz loses her primary campaign, a real possibility, I expect her to surface in due course with a new job arranged by the Clintons. They take care of their own.)
Trump as a threat to democracy, and the Clintons as its saviors? Somewhere in the Kremlin, Putin is enjoying his practical joke.