Hillary Clinton sure didn’t look like an “awful” candidate up on the debate stage this week.“Awful” was how ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd derided the Democratic nominee over the summer on This Week. “She is an awful candidate. Everybody knows it,” he stressed.Dowd was hardly alone. The Beltway pundit class has re
“I do have a problem with that. Yeah, I do,” Sanders said.
The following is an edited version of an address given by John Pilger at the University of Sydney, entitled ‘A World War Has Begun’. I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, “WhereMore
Democratic frontrunner gets rapturous reception at rally and says ‘we came out pretty well’ when compared with the standard of Republican debates
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It’s a paradox.
Almost all the economic gains are still going to the top, leaving America’s vast middle class with stagnant wages and little or no job security. Two-thirds of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck.
Meanwhile, big money is taking over our democracy.
If there were ever a time for a bold Democratic voice on behalf of hardworking Americans, it is now.
Yet I don’t recall a time when the Democratic Party’s most prominent office holders sounded as meek. With the exception of Elizabeth Warren, they’re pussycats. If Paul Wellstone, Teddy Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, or Ann Richards were still with us, they’d be hollering.
The fire now is on the right, stoked by the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, and a pocketful of hedge-fund billionaires.
Today’s Republican firebrands, beginning with Ted Cruz, blame the poor, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants for what’s been happening. They avoid any mention of wealth and power.
Which brings me to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In declaring her candidacy for President she said “The deck is stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion.”
Exactly the right words, but will she deliver?
Some wonder about the strength of her values and ideals. I don’t. I’ve known her since she was 19 years old, and have no doubt where her heart is. For her entire career she’s been deeply committed to equal opportunity and upward mobility.
Some worry she’s been too compromised by big money – that the circle of wealthy donors she and her husband have cultivated over the years has dulled her sensitivity to the struggling middle class and poor.
But it’s wrong to assume great wealth, or even a social circle of the wealthy, is incompatible with a deep commitment to reform – as Teddy Roosevelt and his fifth-cousin Franklin clearly demonstrated.
The more relevant concern is her willingness to fight.
After a devastating first midterm election, her husband famously “triangulated” between Democrats and Republicans, seeking to find a middle position above the fray.
But if Hillary Clinton is to get the mandate she needs for America to get back on track, she will have to be clear with the American people about what is happening and why – and what must be done.
For example, she will need to admit that Wall Street is still running the economy, and still out of control.
So we must resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act and bust up the biggest banks, so millions of Americans don’t ever again lose their homes, jobs, and savings because of Wall Street’s excesses.
Also: Increase taxes on the rich in order to finance the investments in schools and infrastructure the nation desperately needs.
Strengthen unions so working Americans have the bargaining power to get a fair share of the gains from economic growth.
Limit the deductibility of executive pay, and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Oppose trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership designed to protect corporate property but not American jobs.
And nominate Supreme Court justices who will reverse “Citizens United.”
I’m not suggesting a long list. Democratic candidates too often offer mind-numbing policy proposals without explaining why they’re important.
She should use such policies to illustrate the problem, and make a vivid moral case for why such policies are necessary.
In recent decades Republicans have made a moral case for less government and lower taxes on the rich, based on their idea of “freedom.”
They talk endlessly about freedom but they never talk about power. But it’s power that’s askew in America –concentrated power that’s constraining the freedom of the vast majority.
Hillary Clinton should make the moral case about power: for taking it out of the hands of those with great wealth and putting it back into the hands of average working people.
In these times, such a voice and message make sense politically. The 2016 election will be decided by turnout, and turnout will depend on enthusiasm.
If she talks about what’s really going on and what must be done about it, she can arouse the Democratic base as well as millions of Independents and even Republicans who have concluded, with reason, that the game is rigged against them.
The question is not her values and ideals. It’s her willingness to be bold and to fight, at a time when average working people need a president who will fight for them more than they’ve needed such a president in living memory.
This is a defining moment for Democrats, and for America. It is also a defining moment for Hillary Clinton.
Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His new movie “Inequality for All” is in Theaters. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.
Doom and gloom may not be the new hope and change, but they just might work
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- Hillary Clinton is, as she reminded audience in Kentucky, Louisiana and New Hampshire this weekend, a new member of “the grandmother’s club”. Many other new grandmas might spend their time daydreaming about the future of their grandchildrens – I’m pretty sure we were all destined to be lawyers, doctors, future presidents or well-remunerated sports stars, in the minds of most grandmothers – but Clinton’s reveries about Charlotte’s future are a bit more … dark.The Democrats are going to lose on Tuesday, and Hillary Clinton knows it. Her grim prophecy of a GOP takeover isn’t so much a last-minute appeal to Senate voters as an early bid for her own. Because doom and gloom may not be the new hope and change, but they might actually work.
Clinton’s campaign speeches aren’t each original works of creative genius. As Maggie Haberman reports at Politico, she does tailor her zings about Republicans neatly to each race where she’s stumping, but the foundation of her remarks in the US midterm election homestretch remained the same: equal pay (and GOP opposition to it), the minimum wage (and GOP opposition to it) and Republicans creating a climate of fear (“the last resort of those who have run out of ideas”).
But at the end of each speech, Clinton turned to her granddaughter and her own fears about the country Charlotte might face as a young adult if Republicans gain more power. At her appearance in Highland Heights, Kentucky, in a message largely repeated elsewhere, Clinton said:
What’s our country going to be like in 20-25 years when she’s an adult – like many of the students here [at Northern Kentucky University], when she is going to be starting her adult life? Is the American dream going to be there for her the way it was for me and my husband, and for Alison [Lundergan Grimes]? Is the education system from pre-K to university level going to keep the standing it’s always had as the best in the world, so that young people will find a place that can help prepare them? Is our political system, our democracy, going to represent our values and ideals? Or is it going to be captured by a very few who seem not to understand that the obligation of being in public service in a democracy is not to get captured by some small elite privileged group, but to be constantly working to give the same opportunities to everybody that gave you the chance to be in public service in the first place.
(That last bit is, of course, a reference to the Koch brothers and their reportedly cozy relationship with US senate minority leader – and Grimes opponent – Mitch McConnell.)
In her three-state swing, Clinton’s marked shift in tone and content – from stumping for the candidate by her side to warning about the America that her granddaughter might inherent – was almost disconcerting, especially given the overall upbeat tenor of the speakers at most pre-Election Day rallies. But even within the confines of Clinton’s themselves speeches, the abupt shift in gears halted her palpable momentum and mostly silenced her audiences.
It was as though Hillary Clinton felt more compelled to make dark prophesies than inspire voters.
Then again, you hardly need to read tea leaves to predict the Republicans will take control of the senate – and thus the entire legislative branch – after Tuesday. You don’t need a Senate forecaster to know which way the gridlock will go: the Congressional intransigence Americans claim to hate (even as they like or remain indifferent to divided control of the branches of government, the cause of said intransigence) will either continue or get worse, to the detriment of everyone, assuming that Republicans have legislative goals beyond dismantling Obamacare.
But especially here in Kentucky – where almost 400,000 workers make less than $10.10 per hour and a bill to raise the minimum wage and minimum server wages died in the GOP-controlled state senate – it’s not an unreasonable thought that the whole “American dream” thing is getting a little tarnished for more than a few low-income voters. And decrying a minimum wage increase for the next two years won’t exactly make Republicans popular – especially given that there were about twice as many people making at or below the minimum wage in 2013 as there were in 2006 (before Congress passed the last increase).
Clinton’s increasingly busy and impromptu travel schedule this election season – and the positive reception she’s gotten from die-hard Hillary fans sporting buttons and signs and local voters more concerned about Tuesday than 2016 alike – have not exactly tamped down speculation that she’ll start running for president in the next six months. And when she does, Clinton will be running against the (potential) dystopia she’s prophesying on the campaign trail right now: Republican control of the legislative branch and further political gridlock. Despite the overwhelming popularity of both, there almost certainly won’t be any effort to raise the minimum wage or guarantee women equal pay, and Republicans will almost certainly have a go at repealing the still-unpopular Affordable Care Act even as its effects are finally beginning to be felt by more Americans.
Clinton told her audiences this weekend:
You should not have to be the grandchild of a former secretary of state or a former president to be given the opportunities that you deserve as an American.
But she also asked them to imagine a future in which their children would have to be – and it wasn’t tough