Hopes were high among liberals and progressives in January 2009 as this country’s first African American was inaugurated President of the United States. Barack Obama had run his campaign around a simple slogan, “change,” and for many of us who voted for him, that meant charting a new course away from the horrendous failures of the Bush administration toward peace and prosperity. It didn’t take long, however, for us to see that our hopes were once again misplaced.
In the early months of 2009, anticipation turned to trepidation as Obama began announcing his new cabinet, and we saw positions being filled by long-time Wall Street insiders, well-connected Washington bureaucrats and political cronies, none of whom could remotely be considered “agents of change.” Instead of a new direction, we were treated to a new face continuing many of Bush’s worst national and international policies.
Fast-forward to 2016. In this election cycle, it’s a race between a particularly repulsive Republican, Trump and the Democrat who could be the first female President in U.S. history, Hillary Clinton. That sounds good on paper, but once again, what is being billed as a historic moment in this country’s history is turning into a win for the status quo, business-as-usual crowd that actually runs America. The only difference this time around is that we progressives have no illusions about Clinton’s establishment leanings, despite the requisite liberal rhetoric of the campaign season.
Do I sound cynical or realistic? Exhibit A: Clinton chose as her running mate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, a moderate Democrat who has supported, and recently voted for, the onerous TPP agreement. Exhibit B: Just yesterday, Clinton named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be chair of her presidential transition team, the position that will oversee the selection of thousands of presidential appointments should Clinton win the election.
So what’s the big deal with Salazar? Well, as a Senator and Interior Secretary, he continuously demonstrated he was a friend to big oil, gas, and the mining and ranching industries. He opened the Arctic Ocean to oil drilling and played Michael Brown with his botched response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. On top of that he is an ardent supporter of the TPP and fracking. In short, Salazar is an old school corporate shill disguised as a Democratic politician, and Clinton’s choice for one of the most important positions on her transition team.
The national media is doing its job by perpetuating the myth that American voters have a real choice in this presidential election, and contrasting an obvious nutcase like Trump against Hillary surely helps reinforce that narrative, but reality is quite different. Whether Hillary or Trump is elected President, the powers behind the scenes will continue to implement the military/industrial/media agenda at the expense of democracy and the economic future of the 99 percent. Hillary is already indicating the direction she wants to take this country as President, and it is a ruinous, if familiar, path of greed, war and environmental decimation.