That’s right, I admit it. What is it that I was wrong about you ask? About the belief that Obama would be a better President than Hilary. That’s right, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a black President. What a great symbol of achievement for the young people in America. What a great sign that we’re finally starting to heal some of the more blatant wounds wrought by our country’s white supremacist past, if only on the level of symbolic representation.
However, in terms of actual policies, I’m really starting to think that we all–including, and perhaps especially, black folk–would have been better off under Hilary. Believe me, it’s not that I have any illusions about the Clintons’ unique abilities to understand the needs of poor folk or people of color. They’re Wall Street-loving capital D-Democrats as sure as the day is long. Regardless of whatever Bill may or may not have had in his mouth when he was at Cambridge, the Clintons are both stone cold drug warriors–and if the drug war isn’t an idiotic, ineffective, and downright harmful policy which has unnecessarily locked up a sizable contingent of black and brown folk, I don’t know what is. So, yeah, don’t get me wrong, I have no real love for the Clintons. Given that, let me explain why I’m starting to think that even still, Hilary might’ve been the better choice.
As I see it, the difference between Hilary and Obama comes down to a fundamental difference in temperament and, as far as enacting a political agenda is concerned, that difference might just amount to all the difference in the world. Obama simply has too much respect for the abilities of the right to influence public opinion, perhaps a lesson he received while watching conservative forces in their relentless ankle-biting of the Clintons during the 90s. Did the conservatives drag the country through hell? They certainly did. However, the intense vitriol and vilification directed their way actually made the Clintons come out like heroes–if somewhat jaded and sanctimonious ones. While the Clintons lost many of their most important policy battles, they lived to fight another day. More importantly, having undergone that process, Hilary understands very well that making policy is just as much about making enemies as it is about making friends. This is something which Obama still doesn’t seem to quite understand, despite having passed the neutered health care bill that stands as his only major domestic success to date.
The health care bill, admittedly a step in the right direction, albeit a very small one, passed. However, far far too many of us are still waiting on some real help with feeding ourselves: Where are the jobs Barack? Where are the major investments that we need in education and public transportation? What are you doing to ensure that states, counties, and municipalities have the money to pay their teachers, policemen, firemen, sheriffs, health workers, and all of the rest of their employees? You do realize that the more public sector jobs that are cut, the harder it’s going to be to get the private sector–driven as it is by consumer spending–back on its feet, right? You could afford to bail out Wall Street. What about doing something–something real, not just some bullshit refinancing program–to keep people in their houses? What about creating jobs for the country’s talented young artists, writers, and intellectuals as was done under the WPA? What about giving innovation grants to burgeoning investors and entrepreneurs who might just have some ideas about how to save the planet? How about it Barack? You gonna make me look stupid for supporting you or what?
At the time, when debating with my Hilary-supporting friends, I would readily admit that choosing Barack was akin to rolling the dice. From what we knew at the time, he could’ve very well worked out better than Hilary. On the other hand, I also conceded, perhaps we’ll find out that Barack wouldn’t achieve even the minimal standard of competence that we could expect from Hilary as far as implementing actual policies that affect the nuts and bolts of people’s lives is concerned. So far, the dice roll has come up largely empty.