If Hillary had her way, voters would fall for her conflation of economic inequality and inequality of opportunity.
And enough of them might.
In an eye-opening piece, Hillary is this out of touch: The Democratic frontrunner doesn’t understand economic struggle — and never will, Les Leopold exposes how out of touch Hillary is when it comes to the struggle of every day Americans. Sometimes, Leopold explains, she cracks under pressure and inadvertently reveals her true self:
More importantly, that’s how Hillary can show how practical and realistic she is compared to pie-in-sky Sanders. It’s a smooth and satisfying pivot for a skilled politician until…until she says something so revealing, and so out of touch, it could cost her the New York primary and beyond. In an unguarded moment, she showed us how out of touch she is with income inequality: “I went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, making about $14,000 a year, so I couldn’t afford some big [student loan] payment every month.”
I’m hoping at least a few readers are saying to themselves, “But wasn’t $14,000 per year a nice income at the time?”
Indeed it was. Here’s Leopold on how nice it was:
Hillary thinks $14,000 a year, back then, makes her a young struggling post-grad? Maybe we need to jar her memory a bit: $14,000 a year was a very good income in 1973. Hillary then earned more 65 percent more than the median male worker ($8,453) and nearly 500 percent more than the median female worker ($2,823) according to census reports. Rather than struggling to get by, she had a very comfortable upper-middle class income.
Today, that $14,000 translates into $74,464 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s inflation calculator. That would place her in the top 8% of today’s income distribution.
Hillary Clinton was never a financially struggling college graduate, and she’ll never understand what struggling students are going through now. As Leopold explains in more depth, and I highly recommend reading the entire piece, Hillary’s statements and her worldview are a product of the environment in which she lived. Her friends from Yale and Wellesley were earning much larger incomes back in 1973, so, in her world, she was “struggling.” And that has continued to this day. The friends Bill and Hillary made in their years at elite schools have risen to great heights. She’s not going to throw them under the bus, Leopold points out:
These wealthy elites became the financial glue of Bill’s campaigns. That’s why we’ll never see the transcripts of her $225,000 Wall Street speeches. Those talks would show the side Hillary has trained herself to hide from the public. These elites are her friends, her supporters, her funders. Turning on them would be like turning on herself and all she’s become and wants to become.
Which really leaves her only one option when confronted with Bernie Sanders’ full frontal assault on economic injustice: make it into an issue of equality of opportunity. On this front, I think Leopold only gets it half right:
Instead, she makes a passionate plea for a world built on the kind of meritocracy that shot her to top. “Break all barriers” so that each of us can live up to “our god-given talents.” She wants rich and poor alike to join the race to riches. But she has trouble admitting the obvious; we never can start equally in a world run wild with runaway inequality.
She is incapable of understanding that wealth must be redistributed from her Wall Street friends, from her daughter, from her son-in-law, from Bill and from herself to the rest of America, if we are to reverse runaway inequality. That’s the barrier we must break.
Leopold is right that you can’t have everyone start equally in a world of runaway inequality. But even if you give a Hillary a pass and ignore this gaping flaw in her worldview, she’s still wrong, in my opinion. Social Darwinism is not made okay simply by making it “fair.” If over half the population is hanging on by its fingernails, or worse, is that okay simply because they had a “fair shot” at the outset? That’s tantamount to saying is if you’re not lucky enough to have been born with a big brain, or a great golf swing, or a fantastic singing voice, or some other talent, you’re destined to live a life of struggle in the wealthiest society in the history of the planet.
That’s a sick, screwed-up, privileged worldview. It’s a worldview too many in the White House have held, to the detriment of working-class Americans, for too long. And Hillary Clinton has told America that will continue if she’s elected. But she’s made it sound so fair-minded that voters are on the verge of being duped.
Here’s hoping they’ll listen more closely and think a little harder.