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Is Hillary ready for today's America?
by Thanos Kalamidas
2015-04-14 10:07:33
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Nobody was surprised with Hillary’s announcement. Now the next question is if the Americans want another Clinton under today’s circumstances for president, despite all the enthusiasm with her announcement.

There is a lot of talk lately on how Europe with all its problems reminds the same continent in mid-1930s when populists, nationalists, fascist and Nazi movements were rising. A Europe suffering under unemployment, chronic economic recession and poverty. While most are right saying these things about Europe, from this side of the ocean USA also reminds more and more mid-1930s.

hillary01_400The economic recession is global and even though Obama administration has managed to avoid big hiccups – and all despite Republicans often unethical tripping – the crisis is still here. The Americans might have left Iraq and Afghanistan but new fires seem to rise here and there, all of them demanding US involvement and certain problems with certain nations don’t seem to go away doesn’t matter what diplomacy does.

But even though serious, everything seems like business as usual. What has changed the last decade is the social behaviour of the Americans or at least it looks that it has changed from this side of the Atlantic. Suddenly old prejudices, discriminations and passions we all thought were left in history, reborn and not only reborn, they seem to divide today’s America deeply.

Fifteen years ago we all talked about the rising Islamophobia, today we are talking about hate. Hate that doesn’t discriminate - actually it is the only thing that doesn’t discriminate at the moment. The murder of another black man or woman in USA from the police has become news as usual for this side of the Atlantic.

News about discrimination for race, faith or sexuality have become mainly US news nowadays. While we are talking about disagreements between EU member states – a purely union of independent countries with independent internal, defence and foreign policy - in US it looks like some states of the federation are acting mutiny. There are states in USA that not only disobey the federal laws, ignore the president and the congress all the high court, but they also paraphrase articles of the constitution giving meaning that contradict the founded laws of the USA.

The opposition party, in this two party democracy – to be honest I never understood how a country with a two party system can accuse another country with one party system as anti-democratic, but this is a different conversation – holds over 45% of the voters; nearly half of the population. This party instead of practicing what an opposition should practice - control of the government, obedience to the laws and the constitution - has turned into an extremist partisan party that has employed every single trick to boycott the federal government. And they do so with a scary fanaticism like they act against occupational army.

They didn’t only oppose the US government in its negotiations with Iran, they intentionally tried to boycott everything endangering a war with uncontrollable consequences not only for USA but for the whole world. They got involved in the Ukrainian conflict befriending with the most extreme and neo-Nazi elements of the Ukrainian opposition with unknown till now consequences but definitely having a share in the continuing crisis.

They have created the most prejudice and discriminating laws covering them under religion just like radical preachers do in Afghanistan and Syria. Actually their latest manufacture, “the freedom of religion law” is one of the most discriminating laws in modern history compared only with sharia laws. And the homophobic element is only the peak of the iceberg. The same law can be used against Muslims tomorrow, Jews after and then against anybody left-handed. They have open Pandora’s Box and they don’t know how to close it now.

And this are just examples. A nation that still doubts if their president had the right to be a president, still considered for some enemy. I was reading the other day an article which called Barack Obama a dictator, his policies Nazi and the Obamacare a Nazi creation. The effect to give health coverage to the poor a Nazi creation? Do these people know what they are talking about? Only the fact that they have the right to say and right things like that isn’t it enough proof that democracy is still there?

Rand Paul has been GOP’s champion in discriminating and racist comments but the rest of the republican leadership follows very close. It suddenly seems that Sarah Pallin has become the American politics rule and not the exception. And that scares everybody. Because the American president’s influence expands globally.

From this side of the ocean it looks like the next American president is going to get over a deeply divided country with serious social problems – without including economic problems, unemployment, homeless - and the tendency of some for isolation while they want to expand even by force dominance, however schizophrenic this might sounds. Is Hillary ready for that? Can she unite or she will further divide? Are the Americans ready to stand up and stop this schizophrenic situation? Do the Americans want a president who might stop all that? And do they want Hillary to be the one? And if not, what’s the alternative? Rand Paul?

It is nearly twenty years since Bill Clinton was president of the USA. The last eight years USA had its first black president and is heading for its first woman president. But is that all the Americans except from their presidents? To be the first black or the first woman? While in the meantime from a champion of human rights they evolve as a society into a global negative example of hate?

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Emanuel Paparella2015-04-14 13:03:09
Some will answer the question in the title of the above political commentary by pointing out that Hillary Clinton is as ready as she’ll ever be; that she has been preparing for the US Presidency all her political life and has learned enough from her previous mistakes not to repeat them, but alas that would be equivalent to sidestepping the question to merely deal with the strategic and the tactical aspects of the campaign, while avoiding the deeper philosophical nuances. But actually that is not what the question is all about; it has to do with whether or not she is prepared to confront the challenges to democracy and the common good and even the very idea of federalism and union (as we read in the Federalist Papers) confronting the US today.

The comments above are quite punishing, to be sure, and some may retort that while focusing on various current negative traits, among which the issue of racism still not solved in the US, it does not present the whole picture, but then again what good are friends if they do not tell the truth to each other; if they are merely interested in flattering each other and presenting half-truths, and reduce an alliance to a mutual admiration society?

I for one prefer to assume that those friends and allies on the other side of the Atlantic tell us frankly what the picture looks to them from that side; we should also assume that they do so out of a common concern about the future of democracy in the world, and it is this: should Democracy disappears on both sides of the Atlantic, dark times will surely follow that may make the so called Dark Ages look like a picnic in comparison.

To return to Hillary Clinton? Is she ready for the challenge? That remains to be seen. Mayor of New York Di Blasio (who was her campaign director when she ran for senator from New York) said it best, in my opinion, when he said that he is still waiting for a vision to be clearly enunciated. A vision, that is, of an America concerned with social justice and not only domestically but globally. As of now, there has been much lip service to the plight of the middle class by progressives and liberals; a middle class whose wages have stagnated for the last thirty years or so, not to mention income disparity, and distributive justice, but the vision which the people hunger for is still missing; words always sound inauthentic if not accompanied by action and practice. Will Hillary Clinton become their champion, and not only on paper?

To answer another of the corollary questions above as to what is the alternative to Hillary Clinton, there is actually an alternative voice of which Europeans may or may not be aware, and it sounds much more convincing and authentic than Hillary Clinton's, so far anyway. I refer to Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts who has spelled out the solution to the above mentioned economic problems eloquently and convincingly giving no quarter to the Wall Street crowd and special interests who created the recession and then were bailed out by the tax payers and hard working people of America. She says she is not interested in running for President, but she will at the very least make sure that Hillary Clinton deliver on her expressed concerns for the middle class and the poor of our country. As mentioned, it’s a little too early to fully answer the question. It remains to be seen. Meanwhile we could do much worse than remember the famous warning of Thomas Jefferson that “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

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