Note: this article first appeared in Daily Kos on April 17, 2016.
There is an epidemic affecting millions of people who once described themselves as “liberal” and/or “progressive”.
I call it “RCDS” — “Reverse Clinton Derangement Syndrome.” But while this epidemic has only recently broken out, this type of affliction is not new.
Many of us are already familiar with ODS: Obama Derangement Syndrome
This disease has led many GOPers to actually OPPOSE the legislation they had introduced or favoured, such as the ACA (which was a GOP idea first introduced as Romneycare). Watching Republicans tie themselves into pretzels trying to explain why Romneycare was good but Obamacare was a disaster was really interesting — likewise with Merrick Garland: praised by Orrin Hatch who implied that the GOP would vote for Garland but Obama would never nominate him and then … bam! Now they have to be against Garland.
There have been many instances where Obama has proposed something that had been pushed by the GOP but the Republicans then had to find some reason to oppose what they had previously favoured, or to favour what they had previously opposed. All due to ODS.
It is the same with RCDS
I am sure that many if not most Hillary supporters would be the first to say that the GOP is funded by Big Oil and Big Pharma and other special interests, and that they are corrupted this way and so represent those interests. Indeed, I am sure there are many diaries from a few years ago here on DK that decried the Big Money donations that were going to the GOP.
Look, we all know that 70% of this Corporate money goes to Republicans, and 30% goes to Democrats (Barney Frank says it is 80/20, but he exaggerates). Hillary supporters would maintain however that whilst the Republican recipients of Corporate largesse do the bidding of the Corporate donors who fund them, Hillary is somehow magically immune from their influence. This particular strain of cognitive dissonance is a hallmark of RCDS.
I am sure that the Hillary supporters were OUTRAGED when Dick Cheney held “secret” meetings with the energy industry “behind closed doors” and that many of them vehemently demanded that the minutes of the Energy Task Force meetings be divulged by the Bush Administration. But Hillary’s “closed door” meetings with Wall Street? Well, that’s a different KIND of Corporate meeting. A horse of a different feather.
Likewise, I am absolutely positive that many if not most Hillary supporters were strong proponents of a Single Payer healthcare system when it was proposed by Obama and was part of the Democratic Party Platform in 2008. But now they all are convinced that a Single Payer system will just “never, ever happen” and Bernie Sanders is “unrealistic” to even propose such a thing.
Fracking, as it now appears to Hillary supporters, is not such a bad thing after all — it just needs to be properly regulated.
Lifting the cap on Social Security — bad idea …. now.
Were today’s Clinton supporters less strident on gun control when Hillary was portraying herself as “Annie Oakley” (shooting ducks, etc.) to contrast herself with the “anti-gun” Obama of 2008? I would imagine so.
I am sure also that many Hillary supporters were — at least at one time — disappointed in President Obama. His promise to fight for a Single Payer system fell by the wayside; his promise to close Guantanamo never happened, even though he does have the power to do so.
And I know many “liberal” Democrats were disappointed that no one from the Bush-Cheney Administration were prosecuted or at least called to account for lying us into a war. The greatest and most devastating fraud ever perpetrated on the American people went without any public reckoning. But that is all water under the bridge now for RCDS sufferers. Clinton has said it was a mistake, and so that is that. We must, as Obama said, “look forward, not backward,” because bringing the matter up only casts shadows on Hillary Clinton’s infamous vote, and RCDS sufferers are now honour-bound to defend that vote in any way possible.
Likewise, I am sure that at one time many Hillary supporters were against big money in politics, and they felt that the Citizens United decision was incredibly injurious to American democracy. But we don’t hear much about that any more from Clinton or her supporters. Indeed, the subject of campaign finance is a taboo among those with RCDS, because the unlimited campaign donations that Hillary is able to bring in thanks to Citizens United and McCutcheon allows her to “help” down-ballot Democrats and Superdelegates, and this is a major point of contrast and an effective attack line against Bernie Sanders.
AND THE BIGGEST EXAMPLE:
The fact that the Obama Justice Department, the FBI and the Inspector General of the State Department (who was appointed by
Obama and John Kerry) are all part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy that is out to nail Hillary Clinton for no reason at all, and that she is being singled out by these Democrat-appointed operatives for no other reason than something John Podesta calls “Clinton Bias.”
Is there a cure for RCDS?
As Democrats we should extend our sympathy and compassion to those who live with RCDS every day. It cannot be easy to cling to these DLC-driven, centre-right corporatist beliefs in the face of the growing wave of insurgent progressivism both among Democrats and Independents.
We are already starting to see massive and epic FAILS among RCDS sufferers around Bernie’s tax returns, his putative “sexism” and his trip to the Vatican. The pathetic attempts to discredit, “disqualify and defeat” Bernie Sanders are blowing up and blowing back with increasing ferocity. W.B. Yeats could have said it: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” And indeed, this may be the way the world ends for centre-right DLC New Democrats and their corporate allies.
There is, in the end, only one cure for RCDS, and that is to finally give in, to let go, to surrender to the righteous cause and to finally embrace Bernie Sanders. And as Sanders supporters let us all do our part to support our benighted brothers and sisters even as we gently nudge them towards salvation.
Feel the Bern.
UPDATE 17 April:
There is an excellent article in The Guardian that covers this topic as well. Here is an excerpt:
The Clinton campaign has spent the last few weeks furiously pushing back at the criticism that she is influenced by the vast donations her campaign receives from backers in the oil and financial industries. Her supporters have been vigorously arguing there’s no evidence of a quid pro quo.
How quickly they forget. As journalist David Sirota reported earlier this week, in the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Clinton harshly criticized then senator Obama for accepting donations from oil and gas executives – and even cut a campaign commercial about it. The kicker? It was less money than Clinton has accepted from people working for fossil fuel companies so far this campaign season.
While Clinton called the suggestion that she might be influenced by the wealthy bankers who raise money for her campaign an “artful smear” in 2016, she also had no problem hurling even stronger accusations about Obama in 2008: “Senator Obama has some questions to answer about his dealings with one of his largest contributors – Exelon, a big nuclear power company,” she said. “Apparently he cut some deals behind closed doors to protect them from full disclosure of the nuclear industry.”
Then there are the closed-door speeches that Clinton gave for Goldman Sachs and other big banks after she left her role as secretary of state. While she has steadfastly refused to release the transcripts, she’s claimed it has never affected her position on the banks one iota. Which is fine, if that’s the principled stance you want to take, but it’s not one her party has had in the past. Mitt Romney was hit hard in the 2012 presidential campaign by Democrats for the speeches he gave to financial institutions.
So which is it? Are politicians corrupt (or susceptible to corruption) if they are giving highly paid speeches behind closed doors to financial institutions, or not? It doesn’t work both ways.
Clinton has also criticized the supreme court’s ruling in Citizens United by rightly pointing out that the original case was sparked by an attempt to air a documentary that was critical of her right before an election. Yet she has reaped the rewards from the ruling – possibly more than any other candidate – from myriad Super Pacs and outside groups that have spent heavily in favor of her candidacy.
The president of Citizens United even told the Center for Public Integrity last week: “Wouldn’t you know that Hillary Clinton has become one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Citizens United supreme court decision. It is an irony that is not lost on me.”