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Missed Opportunities at the Democratic Debate


After putting the Benghazi e-mail issue to bed with an exasperated quip and that now famous handshake, Senator Bernie Sanders could have seized the opportunity to immediately follow up with something like this: “Secretary Clinton, what Americans should be hearing is that the four Americans killed in Benghazi shouldn’t have been there in the first place, that they were there by virtue of yet another terribly flawed policy that you fervently supported.

I derive no pleasure from pointing out that throughout your career, hawkish military intervention has invariably been your preferred option. Yes, Colonel Gaddafi was a brutal dictator, but he posed no security threat to the United States. Your advocacy on behalf of bombing Libya made a bad situation irretrievably worse, leading directly to a failed state, horrific refugee problems, extreme danger for the remaining civilians, a raging civil war, and a power vacuum quickly filled by a new ISIS franchise plus other assorted jihadists.

From your vote for George W. Bush’s morally indefensible invasion of Iraq to your cheerleading on behalf of the disastrous U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan, there is compelling evidence suggesting that a Clinton presidency would make America much less safe. Going further, as these debates unfold, the record will show that in both foreign and domestic policy you’ve primarily represented the One Percent or more precisely the one-tenth of the One Percent. Of course, that’s entirely your prerogative but voters should have access to the facts before signing on to your presidency.

My fellow Americans, I know that mentioning “class” is a taboo topic within polite company. But you’ve heard me characterize our political system as broken, totally dysfunctional and only representative of millionaires and billionaires. During this campaign I’ve been reluctant to attach human faces to this class and those working on their behalf.

Put in the most straightforward language I can muster, our nation’s financial aristocracy depends on people at the highest levels of government they can trust to protect their interests. For this service, they’re highly rewarded while in office and more so afterwards.

My opponent’s Senate voting record fits this profile as does her corporate lobbying as Secretary of State, membership on corporate boards including anti-labor Wal-Mart, the stench of favor-seeking foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation and the obscene sums of money flowing into her campaign coffers from plutocrats, pooh-bahs and polluters. And it raises this fundamental question: Is there any reason for voters to believe that as president she could serve two masters?

Most Americans understand that our political system is rigged. Aside from some headline grabbing squabbles over marginal issues, there’s a broad “non-partisan” agreement about the priority of aiding the business class and safeguarding the American Empire. Only the self-deluded will deny that at the upper echelons the two-party system has morphed into one. This explains the absence of meaningful choices in our presidential elections. I believe it also explains the passionate, grassroots support for my candidacy. It’s one which speaks directly to the fears, anger and palpable feeling of betrayal experienced by people across this country.

Finally, some of my closest advisors cautioned me against raising these issues tonight, that doing so might do irreparable harm to my chances, not least because the corporate mass media will put a negative spin on them. Well, so be it. This might cost me the nomination but there are more important things than personal advancement at any moral cost. The American people deserve to hear some truth telling for the first time in a decade. In the remaining debates that’s what I will continue to do. That’s why I’m running for the presidency of the United States.”

Prof. Gary Olson is a member of the Political Science Department at Moravian College in Bethlehem. Contact: olsong@moravian.edu

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