Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a talented woman with tremendous leadership skills and keen sense of purpose. She's survived decades of criticism from Republicans, in addition to the political baggage associated with her husband, and helped create a powerhouse within the Democratic Party. Although I'm the biggest Bernie Sanders booster on the internet, I appreciate the fact Hillary Clinton endured the sexism of the 1990s and once courageously battled Gingrich and other Republicans. She's earned a great deal of what she's built, and alongside Bill Clinton, helped redefine American politics in many respects.
However, what drives me to advocate a Bernie Sanders presidency in such a passionate manner can be summarized by the astute political evaluation of both Clintons from Joy-Ann Reid. In an interview with Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now," Ms. Reid explains a central theme of her book titled "Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide:"
JOY-ANN REID: Yeah, it's interesting, because Hillary Clinton has had this remarkable arc over the course of her life, from being a sort of conservative, "Goldwater Girl"...
And so she sort of occupied this strange space that has mirrored the Democratic Party, that's gone left, she's gone right, she's been hawkish, she's been sort of the neocon in the party.
In my writing and in my advocacy of Bernie Sanders, I've tried to highlight this critical aspect of the 2016 Election, albeit in a more forceful manner.
Hillary Clinton has gone right, and like Reid states, "she's been hawkish, she's been sort of the neocon in the party." In addition to Joy-Ann Reid, leading historians in The New York Times have discussed Hillary Clinton's neoconservative advisers, in addition to a future "neocon" foreign policy.
Vox states "Hillary Clinton will pull the Democrats -- and the country -- in a hawkish direction," yet the same people who believe Dick Cheney is Satan's spawn could care less. The billions spent on perpetual wars could fund universal healthcare, but again, liberals have evolved on the definition of "pragmatism."
This privilege is the embodiment of the Clinton name, but also the embodiment of the fact both Clintons are white. Hillary Clinton once called Barack Obama "elitist" for stating Americans cling to their guns, and ran a racist 3 a. m. commercial questioning his ability to make the right foreign policy decisions, yet few liberal pundits remember ancient history. In response, Obama labeled Clinton "Annie Oakley," but the politics showed a white Democrat painting her black rival as weak; both in domestic and foreign policy.
Militarism, and its effects within American society, removes the emphasis away from those in poverty or struggling economically and towards threats like ISIS. More time is spent on nightly news programs addressing terrorism than the 27% of African Americans living in poverty or the 1 million African Americans in prison.
While a Bernie Sanders presidency would limit overarching foreign policy objectives and focus upon universal healthcare and free college tuition, his rival is never questioned about the price tag associated with destroying ISIS. Rather, the pragmatism of free college tuition is now an issue, even on the left, while Clinton's foreign policy is hailed as smart power, not dangerous and costly.
Since the Democratic Party should stand for the antithesis of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, it's bizarre that progressive pundits would ignore a glaring philosophical weakness in Hillary Clinton's record on war and foreign policy. Not many people can vote for Iraq, advocate a disastrous Libyan intervention, and write a glowing book review on Henry Kissinger's memoirs, yet still be called a liberal icon.
This is the epitome of white privilege.
Hillary's privilege allows this bizarre state of affairs to exist.
Of course, the Bush Administration started the ball rolling on perpetual wars, but Democrats like Hillary Clinton helped them in this regard. Ultimately, this dynamic hurts poor people. Martin Luther King's Beyond Vietnam speech in 1967 highlights the relationship between war and poverty:
A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war.
The most striking example of white privilege in America, and something that most progressive pundits ignore, is placing greater emphasis on war than the plight of struggling Americans.
Only a white politician in America can overtly challenge the core principles of liberal politics, and get away with it, while simultaneously expecting the support of minority voters.
In a sense, Hillary Clinton is the progressive whisperer, capable of a Jedi mind trick of epic proportions, while The Daily Beast and Banters of the world rush eagerly towards a right-wing cliff of Henry Kissinger's politics and an Iraq vote "mistake."
Remember the militarized police in Ferguson? The Washington Post writes "The Pentagon gave nearly half a billion dollars of military gear to local law enforcement last year."
Think foreign policy doesn't affect the black and Latino communities? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said "Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war." Dr. King's words are just as relevant today as they were in 1967.
After two major wars and failed policies that devastated the Middle East, do you think a black or Latina woman could run for president on a record of voting for Iraq, while simultaneously defending against an email scandal?
If white privilege has any definition, it's the ability to be linked to an FBI investigation, while simultaneously touting one's experience.
If Michelle Obama had been involved in endless scandals, one can only imagine the effects on her political future, especially if she were to run for public office. Being a Clinton, and being a white woman, has benefited Hillary tremendously.
Even with the FBI investigating a private server, and with 67% of Americans distrusting her, Clinton is still running for president. You simply can't earn that kind of overt privilege; it's given to you by the same people who complain about it in progressive publications.
In contrast, Bernie Sanders has indeed earned everything he's ever accomplished in politics, and was never given a free pass on scandal or controversy. He's certainly benefited from being white, but this benefit doesn't allow him to circumvent an FBI investigation or flawed Congressional votes on war. In terms of fundraising, he's never spoken to Wall Street for millions of dollars, and relies upon the American people to finance his campaign.
He's honest, and his honesty is at times a political liability, but he remains true to himself, regardless of the consequences. He's not a casino capitalist, he's a Democratic-Socialist like FDR and Teddy Roosevelt. He actually has a value system, unlike his rival.
He actually has a value system, unlike his rival.
Sanders was arrested in 1963 as a Civil Rights advocate. He endorsed Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, and the great Harry Belafonte has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. The Vermont senator isn't part of a political machine, wasn't married to a president, and wasn't appointed secretary of state because of a political utility.
It's a long presidential race and Bernie Sanders has the money to fight until the end. If he wins the presidency, it will be either because the FBI descended upon the Clinton campaign, or because he's less than 6 points behind Clinton nationally. The gleeful naysayers are already predicting a Sanders defeat, just like they failed to predict his ability to battle the Clinton machine.
(This article first appeared on The Huffington Post)