By Anisha Padma:
On Sunday April 12, Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) made an announcement that she was running for President of the United States. The video announcing her candidacy, features a diverse array of what Clinton deems to be everyday Americans, ranging from an elderly white woman tending to her garden, a single mother and her daughter moving to a new school district, two Latin American brothers opening a new business, an interracial couple finishing home renovations, and a gay couple preparing for a wedding. All of these individuals are represented as entering a new chapter in their lives, something that Hillary Rodham Clinton hopes to achieve as well, with her mission to win the highest office in the land.
With my interest piqued, I glanced curiously through her campaign website, noting various elements which are clear appeals for votes within distinct demographics.
For example, on the front page of the website, there is an “en español” option. Clinton is clearly trying to appeal to Latin American voters, who typically lean towards Democrats. However, they may not be so quick to vote Clinton into office unless she offers viable solutions regarding immigration reform in the United States. This is not to say that the most pressing issue facing the Latin American communities in the United States is immigration reform, but it will influence how she will fare within this voting bloc.
A decade ago, on the John Gambino Radio Show, she denounced the employment of illegal immigrants, but on Tuesday, May 5th, sang a different tune. She spoke at a high school with a majority of Latin American population in Las Vegas and said, “Hard-working immigrants who contribute to the economy and to their communities should not be thrown away,” according to Anne Gearan of the Washington Post. Has Clinton really come full circle, or is this simply another political stance that is convenient for her presidential run?
In the section titled “Hillary’s Story” on her website, we get a brief glimpse of the narrative that she wants her voters to know. It highlights her father’s military service, her family’s humble origins, the intersection of her faith and social justice, her efficiency as First Lady and Senator, her humility to tackle the role of Secretary of State, and finally her new role and honour as a grandmother. This biography attempts to attract voters ranging from those with military backgrounds, to those who participate in social activist work.
But unfortunately, after reading this, it is very hard to get a sense of what Clinton really is willing to advocate for.
If we look to her donor base, we see that it is comprised of very wealthy entities such as Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. If these institutions are funding her, how willing is Hillary really to battle income inequality?
On April 15, there was a massive rally called “Fight for 15” across the nation which called to raise the minimum wage to $15. Although there were several prominent Democrat politicians such as Elizabeth Warren who vocalized support for it explicitly, Clinton simply posted a cryptic tweet in with some haphazard support of the necessity of living wages. Another Democratic contender for 2016, Bernie Sanders, released a statement that said, “I want to applaud the workers who are organizing today in the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour”.
If HRC wants low-wage labourers to vote in her favour, then she needs to be more vocal of efforts such as Fight for 15. Journalist, Doug Henwood, thinks we shouldn’t hold our breath. He says, “She would pretend to listen; she’s great at these listening tours…I don’t expect that she’d be all that receptive.”
And so, with Hillary Rodham Clinton dominating the sphere of influence for Presidential hopefuls, it is very unclear what kind of policies will exist as a result of her leadership. Though she is a fresh face and breaks the legacy of men holding control of the White House, the election of Clinton may not lead to any groundbreaking social change. She still receives money from large, wealthy donors. She has been complicit in gearing the Democratic party towards a neoliberal agenda. She changes her stances on very important issues which does not give us relief on where her true intentions lie. Unfortunately, Bernie Sanders will need to run a brilliant Public Relations campaign in order to muster half of the support that Clinton has rounded up. There simply is no other Democratic candidate with the level of name recognition as Clinton.
Clinton states her impetus for running is, “Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion.” But can Clinton really be the champion of the low-wage earning laborer with equal gusto as the tech millionaire in the Silicon Valley? Does she believe that she truly represents the diverse United States, or for that matter, do we?