Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism

August 21, 2016 at 11:45 AM

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“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
April 16, 1963

 

When Martin Luther King wrote of the white moderate, he wrote of the enemy of progress, the foe of social justice, the obstacle to the defining social movement of his time. He understood, perhaps better than many of his contemporaries, that the white moderate was the single most pernicious influence in the broader sociopolitical landscape. For it was the white moderate who opposed the essential and necessary radicalism, who blocked attempts at widening the Civil Rights Movement, who enjoined that demands be tempered, grievances be blunted; all while posing as a friend of the movement, a defender of the marginalized and oppressed.

Such was the essence of the white moderate in King’s day. Such is the essence of the white liberal today. For it is the white liberal who finds any excuse to slander and attack radical people of color who challenge the ruling class; who justifies support for white supremacy, imperialism, and neocolonialism; and who does so with the palliative opiate of self-satisfaction – the genuine, though entirely wrongheaded, belief in his/her own essential goodness.

This phenomenon has been on full display in the ongoing attacks on Green Party Vice Presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, a man who has dedicated more than four decades to resistance against racism and oppression of African-Americans and other African diaspora communities. To watch accusations and implications of racism and bigotry lobbed at him like so many arrows from the crossbowmen of corporate media is to receive a crash course in white liberal racism – that undeniable phenomenon whose name must not be spoken.

Perhaps the best example of this sickening tactic came on CNN’s Town Hall with Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. The host, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo – brother of Democratic New York governor Andrew Cuomo – deliberately decontextualized Baraka’s use of the phrase “Uncle Tom” to describe President Obama. An obvious smear intended to discredit the Green Party ticket in the eyes of Black (and liberal white) voters, Cuomo smugly implied that Baraka’s usage of Uncle Tom was, in itself, racist.

But even a cursory analysis of the term, the context in which it was used, and Cuomo’s intent in raising the issue, not only vindicates Baraka’s usage of Uncle Tom, it reveals the deep-seated racism of Democratic party shills, and American liberals in general.

Interrogating Uncle Tom

The term itself is generally accepted to mean a person, usually a black man, who is overly eager to please white people, and is quick to betray his own race in pursuit of acceptance among whites. Thus the term is less a superficial racial epithet than it is a psychological and sociological critique, particularly when used by a black man against a fellow black man. To be sure, racially charged language takes on varying levels of meaning and emotional gravitas depending on who uses it. In this case, however, a black leftist uses it to deconstruct the mythology surrounding the first black president.

Does anyone doubt that, from a purely objective perspective, President Obama has indeed abdicated his responsibility to improve the political, economic, and social lives of Black Americans? A quick look at the statistics for Black America reveals that, if anything, the lives of black people have gotten considerably worse under Obama: life expectancy, per capita wealth, employment levels, infant mortality, children in poverty, etc. all point to a deterioration of the living conditions for Blacks under Obama. Do these facts constitute betrayal of black people in the pursuit of serving the white establishment? Certainly, Ajamu Baraka argued that they do. It is hard to counter his assertion.

And how about Obama’s merciless slaughter of black and brown people around the world? From the lynchings, rapes, and murders of black Libyans carried out by Obama’s proxy terrorist forces during the regime change operation against the Libyan Government of Muammar Gaddafi, to the drone bombings of black and brown people all over the world, to the continued militarization of the African continent under the auspices of Obama’s AFRICOM: Do these policies and actions taken by the first black president constitute a betrayal of people of color in the service of the white ruling class and the Empire? Baraka has argued that they do.

So the question then becomes: Is Baraka’s use of the term Uncle Tom truly unwarranted? Or is it rather that liberals, especially white liberals, choose to ignore the material reality of Obama’s presidency in favor of the mythos of the kind-hearted and cool black president with the big smile swooping down on the wings of hope and change like an angel come down from heaven? Perhaps Ajamu Baraka has simply intruded into the dream and, like temperamental children, white liberals shed their crocodile tears in hopes of crying themselves back to sleep.

Liberal White Supremacy

But there is another, even more insidious, aspect to this CNN Uncle Tom moment that must be reckoned with; namely, what the subtext of the question tells us about the pathology of 21st Century American liberalism.

When the white liberal Cuomo implied that the black radical Baraka was somehow engaging in racism or bigotry by referring to Obama as “Uncle Tom,” Cuomo was actually betraying the deeply rooted, almost unconscious, racism at the heart of American liberalism. For, you see, a white man can accuse a black man of racism when said black man critiques another black man who has been anointed by the white establishment. In other words, it’s not Obama’s skin color that makes Baraka’s use of the term unacceptable to Cuomo, it is Obama’s position.

Cuomo here plays the role of sentinel of the establishment, guarding the gates of discourse, dictating to blacks and whites alike what is or is not appropriate when it comes to critiquing the first black president.

Obama is the right kind of black man, while Baraka is the wrong kind. Obama the liberal is deserving of respect, while Baraka the radical is deserving of scorn. Sorry Ajamu, you’re just not the right kind of black man.

And while black men are murdered seemingly every single day by law enforcement, Obama pens op-ed pieces arguing that “Every day, [police] confront danger so it does not find our families … We recognize it, we respect it, we appreciate it, and we depend on you.” This is the right kind of black man, one who is passive and subservient in the face of ongoing, brutal oppression and violence. Baraka on the other hand, a man who has repeatedly lent his vocal support to the Movement for Black Lives among many other pro-black social movements, is caricatured as a bigot and racist.

The white liberal sees no contradiction here. He/she is blind to the irony of utilizing anti-racist verbiage to uphold an inherently racist and white supremacist argument which stealthily justifies the institutions of oppression and coercion while demeaning and slandering those who seek to dismantle them.

This is the white moderate to which Dr. King referred: the liberal more devoted to “order” than to justice. This is the cultural pathology of liberalism, an ideological disease which afflicts millions of people who, in their own self-deception, see themselves as healthy and righteous.

But diseased they remain, in utter denial of their own mental illness. And, instead, they choose to scapegoat those few men and women of the radical cloth who attempt to minister to the sick, to nurse them back to health. For you see, it is not the disease that must be fought, but rather the foul-tasting medicine. That is why Ajamu Baraka is made into the villain while Barack Obama is the cure. Such is the upside-down reality of the liberal.

White supremacy and racism are not mere discursive constructs to be woven into elaborate, but mostly empty, rhetorical flourishes. They are real phenomena existing in the real world of political life. And they are not simply the collective hatred expressed by hooded klansmen or bareheaded neo-nazis, but rather are the underlying assumptions, ideas, and values at the root of American political, economic, and social life – expressed by the police officer, the politician, and the news anchor in the finely tailored suit.

But to say it, and to do so publicly, is to transgress against the social norm. And to do so when speaking of the first black president is to commit the gravest sin against the god of liberalism.

Ajamu Baraka is not vilified for calling Obama an Uncle Tom. He is vilified for refusing not to.

Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’

August 19, 2016 at 2:26 PM

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Although Hillary Clinton selected Tim Kaine as her Vice President in this campaign, her true running mate might very well be her vagina. Indeed, while Clinton’s support continues to be among the lowest for any Democratic nominee in recent memory, she has managed to position her gender as a focal point of her campaign, a move intended to capture the women’s vote among liberals and conservatives alike. And, considering her opponent is Donald Trump, a man seen by millions of women as a misogynistic loudmouth, she has done this quite successfully.

But beyond the political window-dressing and empty rhetoric, Clinton’s record on women and families should not only lose her the support of American women, it should qualify her as one of the most anti-woman candidates in history. For while modest progress has been made toward some semblance of gender equality, it is the actions of Clinton herself that have done more than any other single individual to harm women and families. Slick public relations aside, Hillary Clinton may very well be the most anti-woman candidate in generations.

Hillary’s Relentless Attack on Women and Families

“I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st Century.” So said Hillary Clinton in a 2011 interview with Newsweek. And this quote, among many others, has been trumpeted by Clinton supporters as the revelation of the angel of feminism, the gospel according to Saint Hillary. But in probing a little more deeply, some disturbing questions emerge which seem to cast doubt on her commitment to the rights of women and girls, both in the 21st Century, as well as at the end of the 20th Century.

As First Lady, Hillary Clinton, along with her then President husband Bill Clinton, did more than anyone to make the lives of poor and working class women and girls all the more precarious. Perhaps no single action taken by the Clintons did more to harm women and families than the evisceration of welfare. As part of a deeply cynical, and unconscionably reckless, strategy to win over racist white voters, the Clintons set their sights on Black and Latino women and children, portraying them as parasitical exploiters of hard-working whites.

After having supported her husband’s goal of “ending welfare as we know it,” Clinton was instrumental in ginning up support for the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). This bill, passed with the support of a right wing Republican Congress, effectively ended welfare programs designed to provide real assistance to women and children in desperate need. And, despite countless experts denouncing the law, including a close friend and former assistant secretary of social services at the Department of Health of Human Services, Hillary continued to defend it. Speaking of the destruction of welfare, Clinton told the Gettysburg Times in 2002, “Now that we’ve said these people are no longer deadbeats – they’re actually out there being productive – how do we keep them there?”

Such callous disregard for the reality of poverty and the difficult circumstances in which millions of women and children live demonstrates precisely what sort of “feminist” Hillary Clinton is: a neoliberal corporate exploiter without a penis. For Clinton, what matters is not the material reality of women’s lives, but rather how best to exploit them for political gain. As feminist scholars Alejandra Marchevsky and Jeanne Theoharis noted:

“[PRWORA’s] legacy still ripples through the country, where families remain as poor as—or, in many cases, poorer than—before, but with one crucial difference: Today, the “reformed” welfare system provides little safety net, and no hand-up. Instead, it traps poor mothers into exploitative, poverty-wage jobs and dangerous personal situations, deters them from college, and contributes to the growing trend of poor mothers who can neither find a job nor access public assistance. It is our failed social policy—not simply the recession—that is responsible for crisis-level poverty in the United States.”

Of course, such painful realities are taboo subjects for the devout adherents of the Gospel According to Hillary, where the sacred scriptures tell of a crusading archangel come to Earth to protect the downtrodden women from the oppression of patriarchy. Perhaps church dogma will need to be updated to account for the fact that Clinton’s welfare “reform” reduced the percentage of households eligible for assistance from 68 percent to 26 percent, while the value of a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) check has dropped by 20 percent. Of course, the Church of Latter Day Corporate Feminists will ignore these, and myriad other, statistics which demonstrate that rather than a champion of poor women and families, Hillary has been one of their main antagonists.

But Hillary’s vicious assault on women and families goes far beyond just the gutting of welfare. Indeed, the development of the mass incarceration state and prison-industrial complex is intimately tied to the policies of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Hillary was the leading edge of the campaign to pass her husband’s infamous 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (aka the “Crime Bill”) which disproportionately targeted people of color and led to the rise of the mass incarceration state or, as Michelle Alexander famously dubbed it, “The New Jim Crow.” Writing in The Nation in 2016, Alexander explained that the Clinton Crime Bill was responsible for:

  • the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history
  • the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine, which produced staggering racial injustice in sentencing and boosted funding for drug-law enforcement
  • the idea of a federal “three strikes” law
  • a $30 billion crime bill that created dozens of new federal capital crimes
  • the mandating of life sentences for some three-time offenders
  • authorizing more than $16 billion for state prison grants and the expansion of police forces
  • African Americans constituting 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they’re no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs
  • A 50% increase in African American incarceration by the year 2000

While Alexander was highlighting the racial disparities and continued oppression of Black America thanks to the Clintons, embedded in that very same analysis is the obvious fact that Clinton’s Crime Bill devastated Black and Latino families, locking up millions of fathers (and mothers), breaking apart families, displacing children, and doing irreparable harm harm to a generation of minority women and children. And, as if the social impacts weren’t enough, Clinton was quick to refer to the children of these families as “superpredators,” a remarkable two-for-one comment which demonstrated both Hillary’s racism and anti-minority family outlook.

Perhaps real women and children don’t fit into Hillary’s conception of “feminism”? Or, better still, perhaps the real question should be: feminism for whom? Clinton’s domestic track record demonstrates that it is affluent white women who truly are the focus of her brand of corporate neoliberal feminism.

For Clinton, the great triumph of feminist action is not the empowerment of working class and poor women and families, but rather the entry of elite white women into the ruling class. One might call it Feminism for the 1%.

No wonder Madeleine “500,000 dead Iraqi children was worth it” Albright remarked in February 2016 that there was “a special place in hell” for women who don’t support Hillary Clinton. Albright may very well be projecting here as, if there is a hell, her seat at the VIP table is undoubtedly already reserved. Maybe she’ll keep Hillary’s seat warm for her.

Imperial Feminism: Hillary’s Bloody Hands

Clinton hasn’t only built her “feminist” credentials on the oppression and suffering of women and families in the US; her foreign policy achievements have managed to kill, maim, and otherwise destroy the lives of millions of women and children around the world. Such is the record of the corporate imperialist Clinton.

During her husband’s presidency, Hillary was a vocal advocate for the barbaric sanctions regime, as well as the No-Fly Zone and other belligerent actions taken by her husband against the Iraqi Government of Saddam Hussein. In fact, many experts have noted that the Clinton Iraq policy essentially laid the groundwork for George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. In particular, Hillary was a leading proponent of the sanctions which, according to the UN, killed roughly 500,000 children.

And, of course, there’s Hillary’s infamous support for Bush’s Iraq War when she was a Senator from New York. Clinton explained to the Council on Foreign Relations in December 2003, “I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote….I stand by the vote.” Of course this was in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and subsequent capture of Saddam Hussein, a time when one could still justify support for a war that, just a few years later, proved to be politically unpalatable, to say nothing of it being an egregious war crime, as we all knew from the beginning.

And Hillary was not perturbed in the slightest at the hundreds of thousands of women and children whose lives were irrevocably destroyed by the war and its aftermath, one which is still being reckoned with today.

Hillary and Bill – the power couple tag team of Washington – also led the charge to bomb Serbia in 1999. During the 78 days of “Operation Allied Force” more than 2,000 civilians were killed, including 88 children. Naturally, this was of little consequence to the great feminist heroine Hillary who, according to biographer Gail Sheehy, proudly proclaimed “I urged [Bill Clinton] to bomb [Serbia]. The barbarism and sheer viciousness of someone who gleefully takes credit for the deaths of scores of children and countless thousands of women should give anyone who believes in the Hillary the feminist mythos serious pause.

Who could forget Libya? In the war championed by Hillary Clinton, who is regarded by experts as being the loudest voice in favor of regime change against Gaddafi and the destruction of the country, tens of thousands of women were raped, lynched, and murdered by the glorious “rebels” (read terrorists) backed by Clinton and her imperial coterie. Perhaps the great feminist hero could speak to the children of Misrata, Sirte, and Bani Walid who have now grown up without their mothers and fathers, and explain to them just how “worth it” the war was. Maybe Clinton could look mothers in the eyes and tell them how the deaths of their children from war, disease, and terrorism is a small price to pay for the foreign policy objectives of Washington.

And let us not forget about Honduras, the country suffering under a right wing dictatorship helped into office by then Secretary Clinton. Hillary brazenly, and rather despicably, took credit for her handiwork in her autobiography Hard Choices where she explained that, “In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico… We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of [elected President Manuel] Zelaya moot.”

Indeed, Clinton was instrumental in bringing the right wing coup government to power. And that government today carries out systematic oppression of women and indigenous communities throughout the country. In a high profile assassination, renowned indigenous activist and feminist Berta Cáceres was gunned down by assailants tied to the government installed by Clinton. In fact, Cáceres herself called out Hillary Clinton prior to her death. In a 2014 interview, Cáceres said:

“We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it. It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, ‘Hard Choices,’ practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country. The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here she [Clinton] recognized that they didn’t permit Mel Zelaya’s return to the presidency.”

It would be impossible to catalog all of Hillary’s crimes against women and children in this short piece. One should remember the children of Haiti living in inhumane conditions thanks in no small part to the continued exploitation of their country by the likes of Bill, Hillary, and the Clinton Global Initiative. One should remember the children of Afghanistan living with what peace activist and frequent visitor to Afghanistan, Kathy Kelly, describes as permanent post-traumatic stress disorder. One should remember the women and children of Sudan who died after Bill Clinton deliberately bombed a pharmaceutical factory in that country, thereby depriving women and children of much needed medicines. And Syria. And Venezuela. And Pakistan. And Iran. And Russia. And Ukraine. The list goes on and on.

And let’s recall also Hillary’s support for the Obama Administration’s policy of child deportations. What a champion of the rights of children. Do you wonder if Hillary loses any sleep over the fates of thousands of children from Honduras, El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America, knowing that she is directly responsible for their suffering? And how about Hillary’s cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia, the world’s most oppressive country for women?

Far from being a feminist, Hillary Clinton is a serial exploiter, and serial killer, of women and children; her track record speaks for itself. The ongoing economic oppression and suffering of women and children in poverty can be directly traced to Hillary’s “pioneering work” as an advocate for the welfare reform now almost universally seen as a disaster for poor women and children. Clinton’s record on children in other countries is equally disturbing.

In short, Clinton is no feminist, at least not in the real sense. She is not interested in true empowerment of women, only in the empowerment of herself. And she cares not a whit how many women and children will be trampled along the way.

Corporate imperialism is not feminism, even when done by a woman. Hopefully more American women will realize that before it’s too late. Needless to say, Hillary’s betting that they won’t.

CounterPunch Radio – Nicholas Schou

August 8, 2016 at 2:41 PM

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Listen to CounterPunch Radio (Ep. 52) with Nicholas Schou

This week Eric sits down with author Nicholas Schou to discuss his new book Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood. Eric and Nick explore the history of CIA manipulation of the media going back decades, and how it has evolved into the propaganda consensus we see today. The conversation touches on everything from Nicaragua and the Reagan counter-revolution to the sycophantic relationship between Hollywood and Langley. From Robert Parry to Robert Kagan, from South Vietnam to Baghdad, the story of CIA information warfare is a long and sordid one, and Schou’s new book is an important contribution in telling it.

NYPD Commissioner Bratton Resigns, Takes Job With Pro-Clinton, Pro-Israel Firm

August 8, 2016 at 2:29 PM

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NEW YORK — (Analysis) New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton formally announced his resignation on Tuesday, marking the end of a tumultuous second term as the NYPD’s top cop.

Bratton, largely seen as the architect of the “broken windows” law enforcement strategy that targets low-level offenses in order to stop larger offenses, has been heavily criticized by social justice advocates, who have charged that Bratton’s tactics amount to a targeting of people of color who are then saddled with criminal records, promoting further problems for themselves and their families.

While Bratton touts his record on crime – NYC has seen crime, especially violent crime, continue to drop to record lows under Bratton – he has a much more dubious record when it comes to police-community engagement. If anything, Bratton has become a lightning rod for criticism, especially in the wake of the 2014 murder of Eric Garner by NYPD officers, none of whom faced any criminal repercussions. Bratton faced similar criticisms in his other positions, including in Los Angeles and Boston, where he was sharply criticized for many of the same policies.

His resignation provides yet another scandalous example of how Bratton represents the very worst of the political establishment in the United States. While some will be celebrating his retreat from public office, it is critical to note that Bratton has accepted a job with Teneo Holdings, a consulting group closely linked to the Clinton political machine, as well as Israel and its lobby.

And it is here, at the crossroads of the national security state and the political ruling class, that Bratton will continue to protect and serve — the interests of the elite, that is.

Behind the curtain at Teneo Holdings

Teneo Holdings may ring a bell for political junkies, mainly because of the controversy that erupted in 2013 after it was revealed that Huma Abedin, the top aide to Hillary Clinton and wife of disgraced New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, had failed to disclose that she was simultaneously employed by the State Department and as a consultant for Teneo.

Of course, it wasn’t simply the lack of transparency that was of concern, but rather the obvious conflict of interest for a State Department employee with access to top level cabinet officials in the Obama administration to be representing outside interests. Indeed, this sort of highly unethical move by a close Clinton confidante is really par for the course for Hillary (and Bill) whose unethical dealings include overseeing arms deals to Clinton Foundation donors, appointing Clinton Foundation donors to key State Department positions, andraising money from individuals closely connected to foreign governments, among others.

Continue reading the article here

Hillary Clinton and the Big (Neoliberal) Lie

August 5, 2016 at 8:59 PM

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This election season has brought to the surface an issue that, until recently, seemed to have become a neoliberal sacred cow, the holy writ of the lords of capital: free trade. And while this cornerstone of US economic hegemony has come under fire from a deeply reactionary, and to varying degrees racist and xenophobic, perspective, as expressed by Donald Trump, it has nevertheless sparked a much needed conversation about free trade and its destructive impact on both the American working class, and the Global South as well.

But free trade having become a campaign issue has also spotlighted for the umpteenth time the breathtaking hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton who I have previously referred to as the high priestess of the Church of Free Trade and Neoliberalism. For it is, in fact, Hillary Clinton who has for more than two decades been one of the loudest and most resolute voices championing neoliberalism and free trade. And still, despite her record, Clinton today presents herself as a friend of the working class. The same working class that has been all but eviscerated by the policies she herself has supported.

This is, of course, not to say that Trump is somehow the great defender of workers and the poor – his long track record as a predatory, racist real estate developer illustrates his complete lack of concern for oppressed communities and workers. Still, like a sadistic dentist, Trump has deliberately struck a nerve in the body politic of the US. For Trump has managed to eschew the typical right wing cultural wedge issues of gay marriage, abortion, and the like in favor of the core economic concerns of the working class.

Whatever one’s opinion of Trump, one can say with certainty that his reintroduction of the free trade into the national conversation has forced Hillary Clinton onto the back foot.

Hillary Clinton, NAFTA, and the Attack on American Workers

“I think that everybody is in favor of free and fair trade, and I think that NAFTA is proving its worth.” Or so Hillary Clinton said in 1996, more than two years after the North American Free Trade Agreement was enacted under her husband’s administration. At the time one could still labor under the illusion – or perhaps it was delusion? – that NAFTA was going to benefit workers in the US, Canada, and Mexico by allowing for the free flow of goods (and capital) leading to decreased prices for many consumer goods. Indeed, that was precisely the mythology that was peddled at the time.

While it’s true that many experts and workers alike, especially those on the Left, were deeply suspicious about the inflated claims of the glorious benefits of the NAFTA utopia of the future, the concept was made into policy, and the policy translated into a grim reality for US workers. As the Economic Policy Institute noted in 2013:

By establishing the principle that U.S. corporations could relocate production elsewhere and sell back into the United States, NAFTA undercut the bargaining power of American workers, which had driven the expansion of the middle class since the end of World War II. The result has been 20 years of stagnant wages and the upward redistribution of income, wealth and political power.

Without question, NAFTA was a direct assault on the US working class. Its repercussions are still being felt today. As the Economic Policy Institute further explained, NAFTA had four major negative impacts:

  1. The loss of at least 700,000 jobs due to production moving to Mexico. Some of the heaviest losses were felt in California, Texas, Michigan and other manufacturing-dependent states, particularly those in the Rust Belt.
  2. Allowed employers to drive down wages, slash benefits, and undermine and destroy unions. Because capital could always threaten to simply close up shop and move to Mexico, workers had little recourse but to accept the assault on their standards of living.
  3. It devastated the Mexican agricultural and small business sectors which led to the dislocation of millions of Mexican workers and small farmers, many of whom were forced to migrate to the US in search of work, thereby creating the immigration “problem” that Trump and his reactionary base have seized upon.
  4. It was the model free trade agreement, the blueprint upon which others were based. It laid the foundation for the neoliberal trade model wherein capital reaps the benefits while labor shoulders the costs.

Obviously, one could point out myriad other negative effects of NAFTA. But perhaps even better than that, one could simply take a drive down Interstates 80 and 90 – crossing through New Jersey, upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, etc. – and get off almost anywhere and see the impacts for one’s self. Countless shuttered factories, depressed and often nearly abandoned towns and cities, and populations blighted by unemployment and the social breakdown that goes with it. The bleakness of the post-NAFTA industrial landscape is difficult to articulate, and is often completely hidden from view, especially for many working people in the population centers on the East and West coasts.

And this depression, both economic and psychological, is what Donald Trump has rather cynically exploited. The scapegoating of Mexican immigrants as economic parasites feasting on the blood of the American worker is a fairly predictable, though highly effective, means of marshaling support from the working class, in particular the white working class.

However, the political opportunism notwithstanding, it was not Donald Trump, but rather Hillary Clinton, who consistently was the unyielding supporter of NAFTA. As White House documents from the Clinton administration revealed, Hillary was one of the principal salespeople for NAFTA, going so far as to speak at a confidential White House briefing on NAFTA in November 1993, just a few days before it was approved by Congress. The documents also prove the fact that Hillary was, as John Nichols wrote in The Nation in 2008, “the featured speaker at a closed-door session where 120 women opinion leaders were hectored to pressure their congressional representatives to approve NAFTA.”

Clinton lobbied for NAFTA all throughout the halls of power in Washington, but also before the American people on television and in the major media. In short, NAFTA can be seen as one of Hillary’s crowning achievements; heavy is the head that wears such a crown.

Hillary the Hypocrite

Today Hillary Clinton shamelessly presents herself as a friend of working people. She trots out the elites of organized labor, concerned primarily with their own positions atop demoralized and fragmented unions, and trumpets their endorsements of her. And even these working class backstabbers have to grit their teeth and smile as they kneel before the high priestess herself in hopes of eight more years of privileged relations and fine dining.

But behind closed doors, everyone in America who even casually follows politics knows the truth: Hillary Clinton is a crusader for free trade and neoliberalism.

And that’s precisely why Hillary’s anti-free trade posture at election time is so deeply cynical, to say nothing of the insult to working people. In 2007-2008, in the midst of a hotly contested primary campaign against then Senator Barack Obama, Clinton repeatedly claimed that she was anti-free trade, and critical of NAFTA. In a debate in late 2007, Clinton admitted that NAFTA had been a mistake “to the extent that it did not deliver on what we had hoped it would.”

Of course, these were just the populist sentiments that Clinton knew she needed to utilize in order to deceive organized labor, and the working class in general, that she was an ally, rather than a devout worshiper at the altar of the god of neoliberalism.

After Obama became president and appointed Clinton Secretary of State she immediately reverted to being the great champion of free trade. Indeed, in her position as America’s top diplomat Clinton traveled the world preaching the gospel of free trade. And by this point she had a new holy scripture to tout: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Clinton unabashedly lied during Democratic national debates on the issue of the TPP, saying that she now opposes it, despite having been in favor of it as late as 2012 when she said the TPP “sets the gold standard in trade agreements.” While she now masquerades as a protectionist opposing a deal that would be bad for working people, she has demonstrated her unflagging support for this type of so called free trade in the past.

To get a sense of just how insidious the TPP is for American workers, and in fact citizens of every country involved in the deal, consider the words of the Grand Poobah of the American Left, Noam Chomsky, who correctly explained that the TPP is “designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity.” In his characteristically soft-spoken manner, Chomsky manages to encapsulate the overarching danger that the TPP represents. And in so doing, he further implies that Hillary Clinton represents a serious threat to American workers.

Similarly, as Secretary of State, Clinton vocally backed the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), hailing it as an “economic NATO”. Leaving aside the terrifyingly ironic turn of phrase, Hillary’s support of TTIP represents support for yet another massive free trade deal that would have serious negative effects on workers, and indeed the majority of citizens, in the US and Europe. As Politico noted, “TTIP covers around a third of global trade. It would create an open market of 829 million consumers and expand a trade relationship that’s already worth €2 billion every day.”

And, just as with the TPP, TTIP is as much a political and geopolitical weapon as it is an economic arrangement. While TPP is aimed at economically isolating China (despite the raving lunacy of Donald Trump who argues just the opposite, that TPP will unfairly benefit China), TTIP is directed against Russia in hopes of depriving Moscow the chance at deepening economic ties with Europe.

And this is precisely why Clinton is the darling of both Wall Street and the neoconservative establishment. From the right wing financier Koch Brothers’ admission of support for Hillary, to the obvious backing of George Soros, Warren Buffett, and countless other liberal (and some conservative) Wall Street ghouls, Clinton has the near unanimous endorsements of the One Percent. It should be added that she is also being supported by arch-neocons such as Max Boot, who described Clinton as “vastly preferable,” Robert Kagan who sees Hillary as “saving the country,” and Eliot Cohen who described Clinton as “the lesser evil by a large margin.”

The reason for the near unanimous support is simple: Clinton will deliver all the economic policies, including TPP and free trade, that the Masters of Wall Street demand. And she’ll do it all while coldly smiling at every worker she meets on the campaign trail. She will also pursue just the sort of aggressive and belligerent foreign policy that makes neocons salivate at the prospect of more and bigger wars.

Ultimately, Clinton represents the very worst of the American political class – a cynical manipulator whose thirst for blood and war is matched only by her thirst for power. Lies flow from her mouth into the US political scene like water into a vast ocean. And, like water, she erodes the once sturdy rock of the working class in the United States.