Hillary Clinton is not the peoples champion

Hillary Rodham Clinton recently announced that she is running for the 2016 presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. If she wins the Democratic Party primaries, Clinton will be the first woman nominee of the Democratic Party. As was the case in 2008, many people are excited at the possibility of seeing a woman become president. But the question is whether the people of the United States need a new political system or just a new face heading the political establishment.

In her presidential campaign video, Clinton states, “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion, so you can do more than just get by: You can get ahead—and stay ahead. Because when families are strong, America is strong.” To be a champion for the people so that they can get ahead sounds great. But is it even possible to be that kind of a champion as the head of a capitalist state?

Such promises of prosperity, couched in both nationalistic and progressive language, have become the standard language of the Democratic Party. But the record of the Democratic Party speaks louder than its words. The administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama demonstrate that the Democrats are no friends of working people. Trade agreements such as NAFTA (passed under Clinton) and now the Trans-Pacific Partnership (pushed by Obama) show clearly that the Democrats are committed to spreading the neo-liberal capitalist model, or “free trade,” at home and abroad.

The Democrats push the agenda of the banks and giant corporations by offering a softer, gentler language and, at times and under popular pressure, minor progressive reforms. There is, indeed, a difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. But it is a difference of methods and tactics. They both pursue the same class interests, which is why the capitalist class spends billions on candidates from both parties in each election cycle getting the “right” politicians elected.

Hillary Clinton in particular has shown her dedication to capitalist expansion and imperialism throughout her political career. From playing a key role in pushing for the NATO invasion of Libya and the arming of reactionary rebels to fight the civil war in Syria, to her close connections to big financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan – top contributors to her previous campaign- it is clear that Clinton offers little to change the status quo.

A common way of thinking is that voting Democrat is “voting for the lesser of two evils.” Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. In President Obama’s years as president, he has increased the deportation of undocumented immigrants, escalated wars in the Middle East, announced that the war in Afghanistan was over even though thousands of U.S. troops will continue to occupy and fight in the country, increased the use of drones to kill “terrorists” in other countries, while the living standards of working people have plummeted and the banks and giant corporations have made record profits.

Hillary Clinton represents this party, the Democratic Party, which has done little in the interest of the people who need help the most –the working class.

Many people want to vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman and a self-proclaimed feminist. Unfortunately, if Hillary Clinton represents feminism, she represents only liberal bourgeois feminism. This type of feminism focuses on formal, legal equality between men and women without addressing the system that creates inequality in the first place–capitalism.

Mainstream feminists have focused on getting women elected into politics, and fighting for and defending reforms through single-issue lenses. They tend to see women as being all in the same boat with the commonality of gender, while ignoring the unique problems faced by working class women and women of color. Bourgeois feminists also talk about being pro-choice, opposed to violence against women, and in favor of equal pay, but talk very little about poverty, access to childcare, housing or homelessness. The ideology of liberal, bourgeois feminism is that progressive reforms can win equality for women without the need for revolutionary change. They argue that changing how children are socialized and ending discriminatory practices will win gender equality.

This is not the kind of feminism the majority of women – working-class women, need. Voting for a woman because of the supposed representation she provides, while not representing the needs of all people, will change little. Only a system focused on working-class solidarity can end capitalism and put an end to exploitation based on gender, race, and class. Building that unity is the job of a working class party such as the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

Marxist-feminists are committed to fighting class exploitation, private ownership of the means of production, and all forms of inequality. They oppose privileges stemming from birth or wealth. Most importantly, they recognize that real change comes from revolution and not reforms. While reforms are a useful tool in achieving concrete gains in order to mobilize the masses, they can never bring about total equality between men and women.

Sexism, like racism, is a symptom of class society, capitalism in particular. The capitalist system profits from sexism by paying women less for equal work. It also benefits from gender oppression and other forms of oppression by creating divisions among the working class.

The election of Barack Obama was significant in that for the first time in US history an African American man became president. However, predictably, Obama’s presidency did not result in significant gains for African Americans, or other oppressed nationalities. Similarly, if Clinton is elected, the election of a woman to the office of the presidency may be symbolically significant. However, it will not result in tangible gains by women against oppression. It will take a new system, not just a new face, to accomplish that important task.

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