On January 20, 2017, either Donald J. Trump or Hillary R. Clinton will take the oath and become the 45th president of the United States. Although I can provide thousands of reason why Trump is dangerous to the Latinx community, as well as to the country as a whole (unlike Romney or McCain before who were not national security risks), if I’m honest, I agree more with Trump’s ideology than Clinton’s.
True, by all accounts, Clinton is well-equipped and possesses the experience and maturity to lead this country. The label “crooked Hillary” has been successfully employed to discredit her abilities – similar to how the “swiftboating” campaign turned Kerry’s heroism, a war hero and purple heart recipient, into some type of draft dodger to deflect from Bush’s own activities with the Texas National Guard. Benghazi, Clinton Foundation, and email-handling have been hurled at her in an effort to paint Clinton as dishonest, which is ironic when compared to Trump’s actual documented difficulties (Trump University, refusing to pay vendors, refusing to rent to people of color).
Before exploring what should be the focus of our concern with Clinton, allow me to quickly dismiss these non-issues. First, Benghazi: after the longest and costliest partisan-driven investigation in the history of the Congress, with the Republican goal to find something by which to smear Clinton, the release of the 800-page final report by the House Select Committee found no evidence of wrongdoing or culpability by Clinton in relationship to the 2012 attack in Libya leading to the death of four Americans.
Second, the Clinton Foundation: the innuendoes cast make it sound as if the charity organization is an ingenious scam to personally enrich the Clintons. Never mind that CharityWatch, an assertive independent charity watchdog gave the Clinton Foundation an A rating, documenting how 88% of its funds go directly to programing that has saved lives. Sure, Clinton should create, if elected, clear procedures to avoid the appearance of impropriety; but thus far, no evidence exists of fraud. And finally, what Sander’s elegantly called, “her damn emails:” again, after an FBI investigation, the director of the bureau, James B. Comey, recommended no criminal charges be filed against her for how she handled classified information. Yes, she was “extremely careless,” but carelessness does not equate with dishonesty. Accuse her of having an overblown sense of privilege and I’ll agree with you, but character assassination concerning dishonesty deflects from more damning concerns.
First, a Clinton administration (in spite of being the liberal bogeywoman) will, I believe, create a neoconservative realignment as neocons return to the Democratic Party. Neoconservativism is a muscular Cold War liberalism which advocates a U.S.-driven world in its fight against communism in the past — terrorism now — through idealistic U.S.-leaning nation-building abroad. Someone has to be a superpower, so it might as well be us! This Cold War ideology started within the Democratic Party during the Truman Administration, defected to the Republican Party during McGovern leftist agenda in his presidential bid and Carter’s human right-centric foreign policy, and found its Golden Age in the Reagan Administration and in that of his ideological son W. Bush.
But as the Republican standard-bearer argues for an “unabashedly noninterventionist approach to world affairs,” Clinton — and the Democrats who have picked up the language of exceptionalism — seem more committed to neoconservative principles. Some neocons have already been supporting Clinton. For example, Robert Kagan is “comfortable with [Clinton] on foreign policy. If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations argued that Trump would “destroy American foreign policy and the international system.” And former neocon of the W. Bush Administration, Eliot Cohen, sees Clinton as “the lesser evil, by a large margin.” This is not a new realignment. When Clinton was nominated as Secretary of State by the Obama Administration, the neocon Weekly Standard referred to her as the “Great Right Hope.” This budding love affair is also more than just lip service as demonstrated by the fundraising efforts for Clinton’s campaign by neocons.
And second, Trump — although a product of neoliberalism — is more against the structures which maintain this system than is Clinton, who was forced to take a more cynical leftist turn due to her primary challenger. Neoliberals seek a global economy of liberalized trade, open markets, low taxes for the rich, and free trade by cutting social spending, advocating privatization, calling for deregulation, dismantling the public good concept, and deferring to the rule of market. Money is freed, not people. Trade deals like NAFTA or TTP are neoliberal structures responsible for the continued growing gap between the economic elite and the majority of the world’s wretched relegated to ever-expanding poverty. Regardless of all the “socialist” rhetoric hurled at Clinton and the Democratic Party for their anti-greedy-bankers progressive agenda, she has been more of an ally to Wall Street than Trump, an ally rewarded with significant campaign contributions. It should be telling that the Koch brothers admit to supporting her. And while I agree with Brexit and Trump’s anti-NAFTA and TTP positions; I am deeply frightened by his reasoning. My reason is based on a commitment to the poor. His platform is highly xenophobic, based on racist and anti-ethnic demagoguery and a phony populism to create a dangerous economic nationalism which fails to protect workers but instead enriches his class. The alternative is Clinton who may be a social liberal but remains economically a neoliberal who will represent politics and economics as usual. So what is a liberationist social Democrat to do?
As I said, on inauguration day, either Trump or Clinton will place their hand on the Bible and take the oath. Not Darrell Castle; not Jill Stein; not Gary Johnson. Economic and/or white privilege allows some to cast away votes as a sign of moral superiority in response to an indignation over the only flawed candidates. And while I wish I could avoid voting this year, I will vote for Clinton even though she is a neoliberal who will make a home for neoconservatives. I cannot vote for Trump because I simply am not a coconut. For the Latinx community (and other marginalized communities residing on the death-dealing edge), the prospect of a Trump administration will mean policies contributing to more dead brown bodies on our borders, from five deaths every four days to God knows what. Trump’s ethnically discriminatory comments comparing Latinx to “criminals, drug dealers, and rapists,” or that a U.S. born judge cannot be objective because he is of Mexican decent, should be troubling not just for Latinxs, but also every American of good will who stands against anti-Latinx discrimination and stereotyping. What a poor state of political affairs when voting is limited to who would cause less deaths.
So on election day, I will hold my nose and vote against my interests for Clinton because more of the same is greatly better than the violence (which we have already seen), death and chaos (and I’m not being hyperbolic) Trump represents.