13 April 2015
Clinton: the deck is stacked
Former Senator Clinton of New York officially declared her second candidacy for President of the United States this weekend. The former Secretary of State has already distinguished herself from her Republican counterparts by eschewing the bombast of a big announcement speech in favor of a statement in a slick commercial. The former First Lady -- who has been treated by some since 2001 as a sort of President Dowager -- appeals to "everyday Americans" to make her their champion. Despite economic recovery, she observes, "the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top." This is standard Jacksonian Democrat rhetoric. The argument is that concentrations of wealth and power effectively deny opportunity to the next generation of competitors. Republicans used to believe this, too, way back in their founding generation, but once they became winners they tended to sympathize with winners. What Clinton will do to lower the stack is unclear, but out of her intended context those words sound ironic, to put it generously, from a candidate considered a preemptive frontrunner, in an environment where anyone who questions her ties to "those at the top," much less holds them against her, is dismissed as an extremist whose criticism will only aid the Republican party. What could be better described as a "stacked deck" then a campaign founded on the premise that whatever Clinton sees fit to do for everyday Americans as their champion is all they're entitled to expect, since she alone stands between them and four years of Republican misrule, and that to demand more will only divide the liberal/progressive movement fatally? Is the deck not stacked when any criticism of Clinton from her left will be condemned as making the "perfect" the enemy of the "good enough?" Clinton wants to be our champion, but in her own mind, or at least in the minds of her lockstep loyalists, she already is the champion, while to the minds of people like Michael Tomasky anyone who challenges her, past a certain point, is a traitor to the poor. Yet we can still ask what Hillary Clinton has done to earn this exalted standing apart from marry Bill. This is not to disparage her legislative and diplomatic achievements but simply to note that ever since 1992 there has been a belief in her entitlement to the Presidency rooted in her presumed entitlement to be co-President with her husband. There is no evading the essentially dynastic nature of such thinking, and it's a sad statement on the situation facing us next year that the Republican party probably has a better chance of repudiating dynastic politics by rejecting Jeb Bush than does the party that claims to champion everyday Americans. But so long as millions of Americans remain convinced that there's only one alternative to Republican rule, the Democrats will do much that may disappoint us but shouldn't surprise us. Everyday Americans need a real champion, but the deck in this game is still stacked against us.