By David Swanson
Let’s assume, just for the sake of masochism or preparedness, that the Republicans nominate McCain or somebody similar, that the Democrats nominate Clinton, and that Paul runs as an independent or libertarian. Here’s a question for those who care about peace and justice: Who’s worse, Clinton or Paul?
I’m assuming most of us will agree that McCain is the worst of the lot. Of course, I’d rather see Edwards nominated than Obama or Clinton, and I’d rather see Obama than Clinton. And, yes, of course McKinney or Nader would be preferable to the whole sorry bunch. But just for the sake of excruciating self-abuse and maybe illumination of the need to nominate someone who is not Clinton, let’s try to answer the question.
If Ron Paul had been president for the past 7 years, a million more Iraqis would be alive, and another 4 million would not be refugees. The world would be a safer place, and Americans would have lost fewer freedoms. Clinton has supported the worst of the crimes of the past 7 years and opposed very few of them. She voted to invade Iraq and voted repeatedly to fund the occupation. Paul did neither of those things. Of course, this does not tell us whether Clinton would have launched the wars that Bush launched if she had been president.
Clinton does keep open the possibility of attacking Iran, even with nuclear weapons. Paul opposes new foreign occupations and would end the existing ones, close down the empire, and bring the troops back from the 80 percent of the nations on earth where they are now stationed. Paul would do something else remarkable for the federal budget: he would cut the budget of the Pentagon. Clinton would not.
But Paul would also eliminate the little the United States gives in foreign aid. Clinton might not boost it, but would probably not eliminate it. Clinton might also, in limited ways, restore the right to organize a union, halt the fall of the minimum wage, and restore a little progressivity to the tax code. Paul would not. Paul would cut empire spending, not in order to spend on something useful, but in order to cut taxes on corporations, the rich, and the poor alike. He would cut spending on everything useful as well. What Clinton’s husband did to welfare, Paul would do across the board.
It’s very difficult to imagine Clinton investing in the sort of green energy program that is probably needed to save the planet from ruin, but it’s impossible to imagine Paul doing so. On the other hand, it’s quite possible to imagine Clinton getting us into a nuclear war. How do we choose which way we would least like to perish?
In the meantime, how would we live? With Paul, the government would do even less to get Americans health care. With Clinton it would do a bit more, albeit at great wasteful expense propping up a private insurance system doomed to ultimately fail.
With Clinton in the White House, we’d face militaristic machismo and corporate corruption. Taxpayers would work half the year for the greed of weapons makers, media corporations, and insurance companies. Under Paul, the government would only boost corporate greed through deregulation; the machismo would take the form of immigrant bashing and world government conspiracy paranoia. Clinton would bomb some countries and talk to others. Paul would neither bomb nor talk.
Clinton has been a leading opponent of impeaching Bush or Cheney for their abuses of power. She could be expected to take advantage of the new presidential powers to spy without warrants, rewrite laws, violate laws, operate in secret, etc. Paul backed impeachment of Bush until he became a candidate and then sold out. But he bases his policies – even those I oppose – on his interpretation of the Constitution and U.S. law. To some significant extent he could be expected to try to operate within the bounds of the Constitution.
Clinton would continue the illegal occupation of Iraq. Paul would end it without offering the Iraqi people a dime in restitution or assistance. That’s also exactly what he would offer any struggling American. Clinton would make minimal advances in public education. Paul would cut or eliminate federal school spending.
Women who value the right to abortion would lose it under a Paul Administration. This is not speculation. He openly says he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s his principle and he stands by it courageously and honestly, but most Americans disagree with him.
Clinton would be no friend to immigrants, but Paul would be worse. Paul would allow fewer legal immigrants, while denying any illegal immigrants a path to become citizens. An immigrant woman here without papers who was raped would be denied the right to an abortion. Her child, born in America, would be denied citizenship. Her family would be denied welfare, as well as health care, and education, not to mention any investment in public transportation. Undocumented workers would gain no workplace rights under a Paul government, and so the rights of all of us would continue to erode. In fact, immigrants would be scapegoated and associated with 9-11, and Paul’s priority would be “securing borders,” which ain’t cheap (or useful).
Under a Paul administration there would be fewer immigrants for a good reason: he opposes the trade policies that destroy the economies of the nations they flee to come here. But Paul opposes those policies because they are international, not because they empower corporations and hurt workers. That’s none of his concern. He’s a “property rights” man, even if it’s at the expense of those without property. He opposes NAFTA for the same reason he opposes the United Nations. He would erode international law even more swiftly than Bush, thereby endangering us all in the long run.
And eliminating Clintonian corporate trade agreements might slow the exploitation of third-world workers but would not end it. That would require global agreements on workplace rights, something neither Paul not Clinton would ever take the lead on, but something unions might be able to work toward under Clinton.
Under Clinton we would have major national campaigns of protest, against occupations, against media conglomeration, against corporate trade. These are very difficult battles for us to win. Under Paul, we would have many more battlefronts, but they would all be smaller, and organized groups might be more willing to wage them because Paul would not be a Democrat. We’d be fighting to save schools and housing and transportation and all sorts of other programs. We might have a better shot at winning such campaigns, and we would have the option (admittedly not the best option) of addressing such needs at the state level. Paul might destroy more of what’s good in the federal government than anyone before him, but he would not forbid the states from replacing it.
If Paul does run, and if he does draw support, there is the possibility that Clinton will improve some of her positions, although Edwards hasn’t had that impact on her. There’s a guarantee, however, that the left will eat itself alive with accusations of treason. To do that to ourselves over a candidate who would eliminate anything good we’ve ever created, a candidate likely to take more voters from McCain than Clinton, would be tragic.
I don’t have an easy answer, except this: DO NOT NOMINATE HILLARY CLINTON.