The farther we get into primary season, the deeper the rift between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters seems to get. Bernie Sanders has told the “Bernie Bros” to knock off the trolling and the harassment of Hillary supporters, and he’s very likely to beg them to vote for Hillary should she win the nomination. The problem is that there are many progressives who see Hillary as no better than the GOP, and believe that it’s Bernie or nothing because of that.
Some of that may be reinforced now that the Democratic National Committee has quietly reversed a rule that banned donations from federal lobbyists, which was enacted by Obama himself. Hillary will benefit from this, and people are understandably angry. However, many progressives seem to have forgotten that Hillary’s record is at least as liberal as Obama’s, if not more so.
In 2005, 2007 and 2009, Hillary sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate, which was intended to strengthen the Fair Labor Standards Act to give victims of wage discrimination—especially women and minorities—more effective recourse. It would also have prohibited retaliation against people who complained of wage discrimination.
She has fought for paycheck fairness at least since she was first elected to the Senate in 2000, and it was her legislation on which Obama based his equal pay executive order for federal contractors in 2015. She also published a guide for young, professional women on how to get equal pay.
Obama didn’t really do much for equal pay until after he was elected president. Also, name anyone in the GOP clown car that supports strengthening and ensuring equal pay without saying, “We need to enforce the laws we have,” “Women earn less for a reason,” “That’s what the Civil Rights Act is for,” and other such tripe.
Hillary changed her position on marriage equality in 2013, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. In 2008, the Democratic party was split firmly down the middle on the topic of marriage equality, and both she and Obama were against it at the time. Obama flipped his position too, but it’s hard to recall anyone but Republicans accusing him of pandering. In fact, Hillary’s shift on this particular issue is right in line with the entire party’s shift. There isn’t much that’s unusual about that.
The minimum wage
Hillary fought for minimum wage increases during her time in the Senate, and has spoken out many times about how unfair the federal minimum wage is. In 2006, she sponsored the Standing With Minimum Wage Earners Act of 2006 (of which Obama was a co-sponsor), which would have increased the federal minimum wage and ensured that it kept pace with the pay raises that Congress voted itself.
That’s not very conservative. Conservatives hold to all sorts of debunked and flat-out ridiculous theories about what will happen with minimum wage hikes. It’s why the minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with the cost of living since Reagan’s era. They also like to vilify minimum wage earners as somehow “less than” in our society.
Both Obama and Hillary have been strong advocates for a fair minimum wage that keeps up with cost of living in some way. In fact, Hillary supports a $12 minimum wage, and also supports state and local efforts to raise their minimum wages to $15 per hour. Obama likewise supports a $12 per hour minimum wage…by 2020…but he only raised the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 per hour.
Money in politics
This is an area where Hillary has come under a lot of fire. She’s taken donations and huge speaking fees from Wall Street, which, to be honest, doesn’t look good for her. Nobody with deep pockets donates money to any campaign without strings attached. She has to know that.
However, in 2008, she talked about the need to rein in Wall Street to the point where a New York Times columnist said she might possibly bring tougher regulation than anybody else running for president at the time. Her ideas eventually became embedded in Dodd-Frank, which would be a lot stronger, and work a lot better, if it weren’t for Republican opposition and intransigence on the idea of Wall Street reform (they still think less regulation is better).
Elizabeth Warren, one of the toughest Senators we have when it comes to Wall Street, praised Hillary’s plan to break up the banks. To be sure, she has also praised Sanders’ plans. It’s important to note, though, that Warren would probably refrain from saying anything if she truly believed Hillary to be insincere on the issue.
The Middle East
Another area where Hillary is taking a lot of flak is the Middle East. Specifically, people are angry that she voted for the Iraq War, which she now says was a mistake. In fact, in 2007, she opposed continued funding for that war, and voted no on that bill, which supports the idea that she’s not just pandering when she says her vote for the war was a mistake.
On The Issues shows that she also supported the decision to target Osama bin Laden, while the rest of Obama’s cabinet was divided on that. She favored the Iran nuclear deal, and has supported handling Iran with diplomacy, rather than war, for a very long time.
She does support Israel, which is another mark against her. Israel is guilty of human rights violations, of apartheid, of invasion and subjugation, and more, and they’re doing a fantastic job of playing the victim, especially where Iran and Palestine are concerned. We should not support them in any way, shape or form until they get their act together and realize that the world is a lot bigger than they are. Unfortunately, her position isn’t unique among Americans, although Democratic support for Israel is falling (while GOP support is growing).
Our current healthcare system is terrible. There is not one American (or really, anybody in the entire industrialized world) that doesn’t know that, except maybe the GOP clown car. Hillary has stated support for, at the minimum, keeping the Affordable Care Act intact, and also for things like allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices to bring them down.
She does not support single payer, but even as far back as 2008, she supported universal coverage and access for all. Her plan, at the time, looked a lot like the ACA. The ACA doesn’t go far enough – we still have cost problems, and we still have companies, like United Healthcare, that put profit above people. However, the ACA wasn’t just modeled on Romneycare, it likely took a lot of Hillary’s ideas, too.
Also, as First Lady, she tried (and failed) to get universal coverage in place. What she did was get that idea on the map, and now it’s a core Democratic principle.
How liberal was Hillary Clinton as a Senator?
Hillary was the 11th most liberal member of the Senate when she served. Bernie Sanders has been the absolute most liberal, that’s true, but she was more liberal than even Harry Reid and Joe Biden, and they’re both considered pretty damned liberal. She’s only moved farther to the left as her career has gone on, while some believe that Obama actually abandoned certain progressive principles after he became president.
People who call themselves “true liberals,” and use the idea that Hillary’s a conservative Republican in liberal Democrats’ clothing, are actually just as bad as the Tea Partiers who claim that a moderate Republican isn’t a “true conservative.” We’ve seen what that attitude does; we’ve had six years of that nonsense over on the right and we don’t need more of it on the left. The last thing we need is more of that on the left.
It’s true that Hillary is not as liberal as Bernie. That’s a fact and there’s no getting around it. She is, however, still very liberal, and worthy of our votes should she win the Democratic nomination. All this division and infighting will do is ensure that we hand the White House to the GOP clown car if we can’t come together. She is a true liberal. End of story.
Image via screen capture