A People's History of the United States, Chapter 24, The Clinton Presidency, Zinn Howard, hypocrisy, corruptness, the Clinton administration, manipulators, politicians, election campaign, myth of political prosperity
It is no secret that most politicians make vows to the American people in order to get elected and oftentimes they will say certain things to please the public as well. It is one of the reasons politicians have a reputation as manipulators. It is this topic that Zinn starts the chapter off with and spends a good amount of time pointing out Bill Clinton's trail of broken promises. A myriad of examples are listed in which Clinton said one thing to the American people but upon further inspection, he often either didn't do what was promised or did something completely different. One of the most notable statements is Clinton's promise for "change" during his campaigns, which Zinn argues did not happen.
[...] Instead, Clinton's policies benefitted those who were privileged but ruined the lives of many who were poor, minorities, or immigrants. His “toughness” on crime led to an America which has the highest prison population in the world. People and their desperation were silenced by being locked up, forced further into poverty by the welfare reform, or deported. Despite this, a positive arose with the development of alternative media sources and the activists who demonstrated the need for change during a time where of the government and media chose to be complacent. [...]
[...] Additionally, major corporations gave more money to the democratic party that ever before. Zinn compares Clinton's presidency to a Republican one, saying “Clinton showed himself no more likely to appoint liberals than the Republican Gerald Ford had in the seventies” (Zinn, 645). When it came to deciding appointees, decisions were made so that they were acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats. Some might refer to this as good bipartisan politics, however Zinn shows contempt for this political practice saying “ he surrendered again and again to caution and conservatism, signing legislation that was more pleasing to the Republican Party and big business than to those Democrats who still recalled the bold programs of Franklin Roosevelt” (Zinn, 643). [...]
[...] The Clinton administration was reluctant to raise taxes on the superrich and raised taxes only by a few percentage points, which Zinn refers to as “ a pitifully small step in view of the need” (Zinn, 664). Ultimately, Zinn mourns for the change that was promised that could have been made under the Clinton presidency. His tone comes across as almost seething when he says “Instead of giving out contracts for jet bombers and nuclear submarines, contracts could be offered to nonprofit corporations to hire people to build homes, construct public transport systems, clean up the rivers and lakes, turn our cities into decent places to live.” (Zinn, 665). [...]
[...] “They sought to keep their power by diverting the anger of citizens to groups without the resources to defend themselves” (Zinn, 647). When a politician, political party, or government chooses to do this and shift the blame, they create a scapegoat for their own failures. In this case, Clinton diverted the blame to criminals and immigrants. Using these subjects as scapegoats is particularly distressing because criminals, while in prison, do not have the right to vote. Similarly, illegal immigrants do not have the right to vote. [...]
[...] The decision of their fate becomes determined by the silent majority who have been taught to demonize these “criminals” and “illegal immigrants”. He did this by passing the “Crime Bill” of 1996, which emphasized punishment on crime instead of prevention, and resulted in extending the death penalty to more offenses and funded million to the building of new prisons. Immigrants were blamed for taking jobs from Americans and thus faced harsher treatment. Legislation was passed with revoked welfare benefits from both illegal and legal immigrants. [...]
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