LAWSON: Stop venerating Hillary Clinton

Recent discoveries about Clinton make her an unworthy figure of idolization

op-Clinton-CourtesyWikimediaCommons

Hillary Clinton should not spare criticism because of her political authority. 

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

On Sep. 20, fellow Opinion columnist Thomas Ferguson highlighted the importance of welcoming prominent speakers on grounds, regardless of their political affiliation. According to Ferguson, by censoring diverging viewpoints, the University would effectively eradicate opportunities for intellectual discourse. The obligation to engage critically with varying viewpoints necessitates the analysis of the credibility and esteem of every speaker, not just those with political beliefs divergent from from the University’s majority. In light of former DNC chair Donna Brazile’s allegations against Hillary Clinton, we must cast a critical eye to the apotheosized former Secretary of State before her appearance at the University’s Women’s Global Leadership Forum from Nov. 13 to 14. 

In an excerpt from her book published in Politico, Donna Brazile, a long-time supporter of the Clintons and establishment Democrat, challenged the legitimacy of the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. The context — a Democratic National Committee swamped in debt from former President Barack Obama’s wasteful campaign spending and then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s ineffective budgeting. The solution: Relying on Clinton for a bailout, and in exchange giving her control over the funding, money and strategy of the DNC. On top of that, “Hillary for America,” or HFA, would exercise hiring power over the party communications director. A memo published by MSNBC corroborates Brazile’s claims of collusion between the HFA and the DNC in the form of a Joint Fund-Raising Agreement over a year before the start of the Democratic primary.

These recent accusations make U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’(I-Vt.) tendency to cry “favoritism” throughout the campaign anything but paranoid. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, identified Wasserman Schultz’s partnership with the Clinton campaign several times only to receive the label of a conspiracy theorist and criticism for endangering the Democratic Party’s chances of winning the general election. The DNC’s continual denial of HFA’s interference in the Democratic primary is ironic in the context of the party’s readiness to accuse the Russian government of intervening in favor of President Donald Trump during the general election. 

In order to uncover if the primary was rigged or simply swayed, we must look to the deal in context of its outcome. Whether or not Sanders could have won the primary had Clinton lacked a foothold in the DNC is debatable, with some news sources claiming that her influence made a decisive difference and others pointing to her position as a frontrunner before the primaries began. What we do know is this: The 2016 Democratic primary was more competitive than predicted at the outset. In the context of a highly contended election, Clinton’s control over DNC finances and strategy may have altered the Democratic nominee, and consequently the victor of the general election. Given Sanders’ popularity in states traditionally blue states — namely Michigan and Wisconsin — some analysts suggest Sanders may have beaten Trump.

While the legality and effectiveness of Clinton’s deal with the DNC remain contentious, its immorality is clear. According to Brazile’s report, the fundraising contract was “not illegal, but it sure looked unethical.” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took the accusation one step further, by describing the primary as “rigged” against Sanders. The DNC’s attempts to keep the deal hidden from other party members also point to its questionable ethicality. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, went as far as to claim that the deal went “skirted federal election law,” and accuse the Clintons of money laundering. 

In response to these charges, many in the Clinton camp have argued that Sanders signed a similar deal with the party. Taking a closer look at the Sanders deal, however, reveals the extreme inequality in influence each candidate held. Sanders’ contract excluded clauses giving him power over finances or hiring — two crucial aspects of Clinton’s deal. Moreover, the Sanders campaign never actually put their contract into effect. The pervasive favoritism shown by the DNC to Clinton before and during the primary is undoubtedly a stain on the country’s democratic process.

At the national level, the federal government has the obligation to dispel rumors of criminal activity within the DNC. The Federal Election Commission, Department of Justice and FBI should launch an investigation to ensure that money laundering played no role in determining the Democratic candidate. Going forward, another potential solution lies in real campaign finance reform, and not just their proposal as a political instrument. Both dominant parties have an obligation to be transparent and honest about their budgeting. Moreover, the United States should take a closer look at the role of money in elections and the ramifications of having only two opposing parties.

On an individual level, Americans should be wary of whom they venerate. We should hold political leaders — especially those who have been monumentally influential in modern politics — to a higher standard. Clinton is an easy figure to idolize, as the first woman to be nominated as a presidential candidate from either of the major parties. The tendency to view her as an infallible leader should be resisted in favor a more holistic view of her negative impact on the inner-workings of the Democratic party. 

Charlotte Lawson is an Opinion columnist for the Cavalier Daily. She may be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com

Correction: The column previously stated Bernie Sanders is a Democrat. He is an independent. 

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