One of the biggest (of many) problems with US political culture is that Americans know very little about political cultures outside the US.
As a case in point, let us turn to a tweet by Yahoo Politics Editor-in-Chief Garance Franke-Ruta.
According to Franke-Ruta, there’s “very little room to” the left of Hillary Clinton.
No, this is not satire.
I’ve seen a lot of absurd statements from fellow journalists on Twitter, but this one may very well take the ludicrous cake.
The speech to which the Yahoo Politics chief is referring is the first address Clinton gave as a Democratic presidential hopeful, on the afternoon of 13 June, in New York City. CNN notes that, in her speech, “Rather than delving into policy specifics, Clinton unveiled a laundry list of issues that her campaign says she’ll address in-depth.” Politicians like Clinton tend to avoid policy specifics, as, when they inevitably lie later, upon being elected, it is much more difficult to hold them accountable. If they campaign on constantly shifting vacuous populist rhetoric, rather than on solid policy promises, they can get votes without technically lying.
What are the issues she said she would address? CNN reports “increasing the minimum wage, offering paid family leave, implementing equal pay legislation and protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace,” as well as “offer[ing] tax benefits to companies that invest in long-term growth in the United States, and penalize those that shelter money overseas.”
Offering tax benefits to corporations who invest in long-term domestic growth (whatever that tangibly even means) is apparently as far left as one can go, according to the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Politics.
CNN also points out that
What Clinton didn’t address stood out, too. The day after House Democrats rejected the free trade agenda of the current Democratic president, Clinton didn’t mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While she attacked hedge fund managers, she used the words “Wall Street” just once, despite her proximity to the financial district, and didn’t identify bad actors by naming specific people or firms.
Because Hillary Clinton has no interest whatsoever in clamping down in any way on the very same Wall Street that has coddled her so favorably and enthusiastically.
Clinton said she wants Supreme Court justices “who will protect every citizen’s right to vote rather than every corporation’s right to buy elections”—but she herself gets millions upon millions of dollars from the very corporations on which she is betting to win her campaign.
The Tiny US Political Spectrum
Absurd statements such as these, claiming there’s “very little room to” the left of Hillary Clinton, serve as an abrasive reminder that the mainstream US political spectrum goes from the far-right to the center-right and ends there.
There is nothing that puts Hillary Clinton on the Left. Nothing. She is objectively a firmly center-right politician. Her neocon-like, pro-war foreign policy is unwaveringly right-wing; her economic policy, love of corporate power, and obedient acquiescence to Wall Street is decidedly rightist; and her social policy is centrist (and constantly fluctuating based on polls).
The cornerstones of ostensibly “progressive” Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s “grassroots” campaign are corporate funding and unpaid labor.
Such a preposterous statement from the editor-in-chief of a leading US media publication makes me recall a quote by historian Vijay Prashad, who said
If the Democratic Party were in any other country in the world it would be considered a party of the far right.
The Democratic Party in Europe would be a far-right party. It’s pro-war, it’s anti-union, it’s anti-civil liberties. I mean, Obama’s assault on civil liberties is worse than Bush. It’s an enemy of the press. It’s used the Espionage Act to shut down whistle-blowers, which are the lifeblood of a free press. It has assassinated American citizens. I mean, at what point do you say enough?
And, of course, Assata Shakur infamously remarked
I have never really understood exactly what a ‘liberal’ is, since I have heard ‘liberals’ express every conceivable opinion on every conceivable subject. As far as I can tell, you have the extreme right, who are fascist racist capitalist dogs like Ronald Reagan, who come right out and let you know where they’re coming from. And on the opposite end, you have the left, who are supposed to be committed to justice, equality, and human rights. And somewhere between those two points is the liberal.