Now that Jeb Bush has officially announced his intention to run for president in 2016, the most corporate-funded presidential election in history is set to begin, headed by two prospective frontrunners with eerily familiar names. It’s Bush versus Clinton—again! With third party candidates certain to be relegated to back alleys, we see, yet again, two of the prized families of the great American oligarchy being trotted out as namesake party spokesmen and women. Their purpose: to create manufactured consent for a failed two-party system while furthering a pre-scripted, nationalist, and corporatist narrative.
Are there some differences between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush? Absolutely. Women’s rights are up there on the list, as Jeb Bush has an appalling history in that realm. While we are sensitive to the reality of Supreme Court nominees and the politics of personal identity, there can be no delusion that the most toxic dangers to our country are large sweeping economic and geopolitical doctrines that consolidate wealth into the hands of the rich elite, who promulgate wars abroad. Even on issues like the environment, while Clinton has a better record than Jeb, her support of corporations and trade agreements that derail environmental progress completely cancels out her hollow sound bytes about renewable energy.
The two candidates are almost identical on the major issues poisoning our republic.
1. They both have blatantly corrupt corporate ties
Like virtually all mainstream politicians in Congress, both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are beholden to corporations. This goes beyond simply receiving campaign funds from super PACs. We’re talking the marriage of corporate interests with the government’s foreign and domestic policies, from the military industrial complex to Big Pharma and “too big to fail” financial institutions. As we work our way down the list, corrupt corporate ties will resurface, but for now, let’s simply list these two politicians’ major corporate ties.
Jeb Bush has actually consulted 15 companies, seven of them for-profits: InnoVida Holdings, for which Bush was a board member and consultant, paid him $15,000 a month before collapsing into fraud and bankruptcy (the company’s CEO, Claudio Osorio, is serving 12½ years in prison); five of the companies for which Bush served on the board (or as adviser) have faced class action lawsuits. Some of these cases are ongoing and involve fraud or environmental damage.
Hillary Clinton’s corporate ties include her six-year stint as director of Wal-Mart, during which time the company aggressively fought to destroy union activity. In more recent times, Hillary showed her colors most spectacularly by hiring a former Monsanto lobbyist to run her campaign. She is also exceedingly cozy with some of the more corrupt Wall Street entities, which we’ll get into later. For now, suffice it to note that the Clinton Foundation has received donations of anywhere from $250,000 to $5 million from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America.
2. They are both major war hawks
In today’s America, anyone elected president who doesn’t want to go the way of John F. Kennedy has to serve the interests of the military-industrial complex. Even ostensibly non-hawkish presidents like Barack Obama (who won a Nobel Peace Prize shortly before authorizing military drone strikes that have killed almost 2,500 people) must keep the war machine going.
Hillary Clinton doesn’t even try to disguise her support for on-going war. Her complete embrace of what The Nation calls “destructive nationalist myths” has earned her the label of a “war hawk”. The moniker is well-deserved. She was a vocal supporter of the second Iraq War in 2003, despite the lack of clear evidence that military action was necessary (and, of course, we now know that the entire justification was a completely manufactured web of lies bent on taking advantage of the fear people felt after 9/11). She also supported military strikes on Afghanistan. These two wars took the lives of 174,000 civilians.
Despite finally admitting her vote for war was a mistake, Hillary has not lessened her push for war. As Secretary of State, she was instrumental in facilitating the use of U.S. airpower to decimate Libya. She then did virtually the same thing in Syria. “The results have been anarchy, sectarian conflict and opportunities for Islamist extremists that have destabilized the entire region,” The Nation observed.
Jeb Bush, of course, supported all of the aforementioned wars and military actions with extreme bravado, then had the extra audacity to claim everything had gone decently in Iraq until Obama ebbed the surge. Hisrevisionism and whitewashing over the decimation of Arab nations post-9/11 is nothing short of pathological.
3. They both support the Patriot Act and NSA mass surveillance
Both Clinton and Bush supported the Patriot Act from the day it was secretly drafted, only days after 9/11. They both voted for its reauthorization in 2006.
This unconstitutional bill granted the government unprecedented powers of civilian detainment, as well as access to private data. When the FISA laws were updated by the Patriot Act, programs like PRISM enabled the NSA to collect millions of phone records from Americans with no suspected ties to terrorism.
Hillary Clinton has expressed concern over privacy issues, but when she has had the chance to take a real stand on them, she has consistently avoided doing so. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush applauded President Obama’s expansion of NSA surveillance, proclaiming: “I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced.”
Fret no more, cynics of the American political system. When it comes to the erosion of civil liberties, bipartisanship is still possible.
4. They both support fracking
This one may strike some as surprising considering Hillary Clinton has a fairly good record (maybe a C+) on environmental issues. Unfortunately, the fact is that both candidates support hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a practice used by oil and energy companies to extract gas and oil from shale rock by directing a high pressure stream of water, sand, and chemicals underground. The practice wastes incredible amounts of water and may contaminate groundwater with carcinogenic chemicals. Recent studies have also shown that fracking causes earthquakes in normally stable regions.
During a keynote speech at the National Clean Energy Summit, Clinton made it clear she wanted strong regulations on fracking, but as Secretary of State, she was responsible for promoting the practice in countries like Bulgaria, which are unlikely to enforce regulations. As it is, fracking is barely regulated in the United States.
5. They both support the Drug War
Hillary Clinton has been very vague—even evasive—about her stance on the Drug War. She supports the use of medical marijuana in some cases but has consistently spoken out against the decriminalization of marijuana, particularly in the lead-up to the 2008 election. She also made a mind-numbingly strange remark in regard to the black market trade, saying drugs couldn’t be legalized because “there’s too much money in it.”
Jeb Bush has virtually the same history and position: support for marijuana use in extreme medical cases but absolutely no support for decriminalization. When push came to shove on an actual ballot initiative, Bush lent his support to opponents of a legalization bill.
Meanwhile, $3.6 billion is spent each year busting and prosecuting people for pot possession, ruining lives and families over a natural herb that has never caused a death. With black people four times as likely to be arrested over marijuana, the issue is a socio-political travesty.
6. They both aggressively support big banks and bailing them out
Unfortunately, despite the fact that their reckless derivatives trading nearly caused a complete global economic collapse, big banks and financial institutions have the complete support of both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.
Interestingly, if you remember Bill Clinton’s presidency, you may consider that it was his move to dismantle the Glass-Steagall Act, undoing the regulation of derivatives. His henchman on the repeal was former Goldman Sachs CEO Robert Rubin. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly signaled she will not change course on financial regulation. In fact, in 2013, Goldman Sachs paid her $400,000 for a speech in which she said that progressives and their anti-Wall Street rhetoric are “foolish.”
Meanwhile, the Bush family has a long and sickening history of colluding with big banks, starting with George H.W. Bush running a deregulation task force with a former Merrill Lynch CEO. The lax policy of bailing out banks has continued unabated. Jeb Bush is on record as a huge supporter of bailouts for the Big Six banks that collectively rig our economic system.
Any disagreement between Hillary and Jeb over this issue during the debates will be for show only—they are both puppets on strings when it comes to the banks.
7. They both support Monsanto and GMOs
This one is fairly obvious, seeing as Clinton hired a Monsanto lobbyist to run her campaign. She’s also a supporter of GMOs, which some evidence shows could be harmful to humans yet are found in the vast majority of the American food supply. Jeb Bush is also a GMO supporter and even opposes GMO labeling. Clinton has been unclear on her position on labeling but supports the idea of selling the whole idea to the public in a different context. During a speech, she openly brainstormed ways to use different kinds of propagandistic rhetoric—such as “drought-resistant” instead of “genetically modified.”
The support both candidates lend to Monsanto is deeply troubling as the multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation has monopolized the seed and food supply across the world withherbicidal and pesticidal toxins. They also use heavy-handed legal tactics and litigation to force local farmers to comply, even to the detriment to their communities.
8. They will both spend billions on the upcoming election
Hillary Clinton has openly stated her goal of raising $2.5 billion for her upcoming presidential campaign. To put that in perspective, in 2012, Obama and Romney combined spent over $2 billion, which is bad enough.
Jeb Bush and the GOP will, of course, match or surpass this number, which means the 2016 presidential election could cost $5 billion dollars. Meanwhile, most Americans are in debt and 14.5% of the nation—45.3 million people—live in poverty.
With super PACs and Citizens United allowing for a virtually unrestricted flow of corporate money into our elections, we are now seeing the full effects of a corporatocracy running our “representative democracy.”
9. They both support the secretive and dangerous TPP agreement
Though initially voicing her support for the ominous trade deal at least 45 times while Secretary of State, Hillary has backed off of her support for the TPP now that it’s become politically advantageous. Basically, she is still politically flip-flopping and will likely continue to do so a through the election.
Given that Clinton was a gung-ho supporter of NAFTA (an agreement that is almost universally agreed upon as being responsible for millions of jobs lost and higher income inequality), it is highly unlikely she will take a stand against TPP. If passed, it would essentially allow corporations to decide trade laws in private tribunals and strip down both worker’s rights and environmental protections. To her credit, Hillary has voiced concerns—and if she reverses course, I will be the first to gladly eat my own words.
Meanwhile, Jeb Bush openly supports the agreement, which, one shouldn’t forget, is so pernicious it was kept secret for years. We only know about it because of a WikiLeaks cable. Bush once said, “We must push privatization [of government] in every area where privatization is possible.” TPP would accomplish that with extreme measures.
10. They both support the death penalty
This one may be surprising as well. Not for Jeb Bush, as he is a proud executioner. This was especially true in his earlier days, before he leaned back to the center of political posturing. He once clearly stated his plans on the death penalty: “I want to accelerate, not slow down, the enforcement of the death penalty in Florida.”
In her earlier years as a constitutional lawyer, Clinton fought against the death penalty and the corrupt criminal justice system. In more recent years, she has lent it her “unenthusiastic support.” We will see if she hedges on this in the primaries, where she will face staunch death penalty opponent, Bernie Sanders.