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Hillary Clinton’s Announcement Paves Way for Progressives to Abandon Principles Very Early in 2016 Election

Joe Conason on “Democracy Now!” scolds Robert Scheer as he raises concerns about her candidacy

Hillary Clinton’s long-anticipated announcement that she will run for president in the 2016 election paves the way for progressives to abandon their principles and values much earlier than previous elections.

A number of progressives are not likely to wait this time for the Democratic Party’s primary to unfold because they contend it is inevitable Clinton will be ordained as the party’s nominee. Since her nomination is inevitable to them, such progressives will begin their quadrennial ritual now of rationalizing their vote, lowering their expectations and engaging in anti-democratic, intellectually dishonest arguments about America’s political system.

Michelle Goldberg, a contributor for The Nation, explained during a debate on “Democracy Now!” on April 13:

…At a certain point, it doesn’t really matter. She’s almost certainly going to be the nominee. And she’s going to be leagues better than whoever she’s running against on the Republican Party. And, as I said, she’s a kind of chameleon-like candidate, who is for better or worse a person who often bows to political pressure. This is the worst thing about her, but it also opens a potential opportunity for progressives who can try to—I think if they get organized—try to work within the system as opposed to working as spoilers, exert pressure on her from the other direction…

After Socialist Seattle city council member, Kshama Sawant, described the importance of a left alternative to the Democratic Party establishment, Joe Conason, a columnist with a history of ardently defending the Clintons, argued, “You have to start with where you are and the choices you really have. That’s my view.”

“It’s fine to have these discussions and fantasize about whatever you’d like to see happen. And I share a lot of the aspirations that anybody would have about a more progressive government in the United States.” Then, Conason added that the election would probably come down to a candidate like Rand Paul and a candidate like Hillary Clinton.

Typically, these kind of statements from progressives would not come until after a politician had secured the Democratic Party’s nomination. This round, however, it seems there are many progressives, who would like to forego the primary process entirely and fall in line behind Clinton. Undoubtedly, there are autocratic leaders in countries (which have potentially donated money to the Clinton Foundation), who wish they could manifest this attitude so easily among the people they rule.

An increasing number of people favor an alternative to the two parties. A 2012 Suffolk University poll conducted in cooperation with the USA Today found fifty-three percent of “unlikely voters said a “third party or multiple parties are necessary.” Only about a third of the “unlikely voters” found “the Democratic and Republican parties do a good job of representing Americans’ political views.” Twenty-three percent of unregistered Americans said they would choose a third party candidate. Eighteen percent of registered voters said they would vote for a third party candidate.

These numbers reflect growing discontent toward the two most prominent parties. More and more Americans are choosing not to vote, because they do not think the system represents them—a completely rational decision yet one which demobilizes people and strengthens the plutocrats or owners of America.

The weekend announcement from Clinton means people like Conason or Goldberg will increasingly patronize, scold and/or casually dismiss those who examine Clinton’s record of support for military interventions, Wall Street, fracking, anti-welfare legislation, bailouts, escalation in Afghanistan, free trade agreements, attacks on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, etc. They will immediately worry that such criticism will not help Clinton win against a Republican and urge progressives to soften their opposition when questioning her.

Left-leaning personalities like to use the language of a hostage negotiation against progressives considering support for an alternative to the Republican or Democratic Party nominees. Vote for the Democrat or else there will be another war of aggression. There will be more right wing dismantling of the social safety net in America.

Unable to come up with positive characteristics that can stand up to scrutiny, they push fear to whip people into supporting corporate, hawkish Democratic presidential candidates and accepting that the election should be foreclosed to any other candidates on television and in the media, on ballots and in the debates.

It actually could never be positive in any system to have candidates that seem to be chameleons, as Goldberg suggested. But this is how candidates think they must appear so they can obtain hundreds of millions of dollars from various corporate and special interest groups and at the same time energize voters.

What this means for progressives is Clinton can pander to the 1% and heads of major corporations as they throw support her way. She panders to grassroots organizations as they are able to mobilize support. Yet, she knows these grassroots organizations will ultimately vote for her in the end, no matter what. People like Conason and Goldberg act as thought leaders who help ensure this is the case. So, Clinton becomes an even greater corporate candidate with some moderate policies that can be marketed to the middle class without seeming entirely like policies that will hurt the poor all that much.

The election is not even until a year and a little over six months from now, but the madness has started early. AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka is already singing the praises of Clinton and giving away any leverage he might have to shape her platform.

Voters in both parties like to believe there is choice in presidential elections. Pundits are very good at telling Americans what choice they have. Few have the decency to tell the truth about what Americans do not and will not get to choose.

Far too many are programmed to steer people away from democratizing elections and supporting more voices in primaries and the general election. And, when they say they think the nomination of Hillary Clinton is inevitable, either they really do support her—and are being disingenuous by not admitting this fact so one can properly debate her record—or they are telling Americans you have no choice because the owners or elites have selected Hillary Clinton. Vote for her or be publicly ostracized and condemned for daring to oppose the next leader destined for power.

Full debate on “Democracy Now!” on April 13

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."