According to some, Hillary Clinton is nothing but a DINO. Now while that could mean she’s a t-rex, what it actually means it that they think she’s a Democrat in Name Only.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means that the people who are calling her that are convinced that she’s not a true Democrat. They think she’s basically a Republican who claims to be a Democrat because reasons.
This should be a fairly easy thing to prove when you think about it. All you have to do is look at a mix of Hillary’s voting record in the Senate and her promises on the campaign. Plus you can add in what she did before she got elected to the Senate. When you add up all these things, you find someone who isn’t a DINO, but is, rather, a pragmatic left-leaning Democrat.
BEFORE THE SENATE
The first most of us knew about Hillary’s politics was when she came along in 1994 to push for single-payer health care. Yes, let me remind those of you who have forgotten, or who weren’t alive at the time, that Hillary was a big proponent of single-payer health care reform. This was, of course, blocked by Republicans, and no small number of Democrats, and that was the end of that until the ACA came along. Even that isn’t single-payer, but it’s a start.
Before that, Hillary…well, let’s take a look at this list of accomplishments published by the Daily Kos. I’ll cut off the parts that happened after she joined the Senate.
•First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College.
•President of the Wellesley Young Republicans
•Intern at the House Republican Conference
•Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School
•Editorial board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action
•Appointed to Senator Walter Mondale’s Subcommittee on Migratory Labor.
•Co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
•Staff attorney for Children’s Defense Fund
•Faculty member in the School of Law at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
•Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic.
•First female chair of the Legal Services Corporation
•First female partner at Rose Law Firm.
•Former civil litigation attorney.
•Former Law Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law.
•twice listed by The National Law Journal as one of the hundred most influential lawyers in America
•Former First Lady of Arkansas.
•Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983
•Chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession
•twice named by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America
•created Arkansas’s Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth
•led a task force that reformed Arkansas’s education system
•Board of directors of Wal-Mart and several other corporations
•Instrumental in passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program
•Promoted nationwide immunization against childhood illnesses
•Successfully sought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institutes of Health
•Worked to investigate reports of an illness that affected veterans of the Gulf War (now recognized as Gulf War Syndrome)
•Helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice
•Initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act
•First FLOTUS in US History to hold a postgraduate degree
•Traveled to 79 countries during time as FLOTUS
•Helped create Vital Voices, an international initiative to promote the participation of women in the political processes of their countries.
Ok, yes, the Young Republican stuff is awkward, but a: Republicans were a different breed back then (bear in mind it was a Republican who created the EPA), and b: we all have our experimental phase in college. And I could do without her being on the board of Wal-Mart.
Otherwise, what I see here is someone who, again, has stood up for liberal causes, defended the rights of women and children, and has a great educational background. All of this points to someone who has been generally liberal and, at her worst, a left-leaning centrist.
None of this is the behavior of a DINO.
But, hey, let’s take a look at what she did once she was actually in a position of power.
IN THE SENATE
Hillary served in the Senate from 2001 to 2009, when she left to become Secretary of State. During that time, what was her voting record like? Did she vote with Democrats, or did she vote with Republicans, or was there a mix?
For information on that, let’s turn to Roll Call, and see what they show for her voting record.
During her time in the Senate, which overlapped exactly with George W. Bush’s time in the White House, she voted the way he wanted 252 times and opposed his wishes 259 times – meaning she supported the Republican president 49 percent of the time. Only 11 fellow Democratic senators who participated in a majority of the Bush era’s presidential support votes – which CQ Roll Call defines as roll calls where the president’s views were clearly expressed in advance – bucked the Republican president more often than Clinton did.
So that shows someone who was frequently willing to vote with what the President wanted, but voted against him more often than not. Not by much, but still. We also see that only 11 other Senators stood up against him more than she did.
Now you might still think this is pretty extreme, but do try to remember, if you can, what it was like in the first couple of years after 9/11. The nation in general was willing to support pretty much anything that Bush asked for. This wasn’t a good thing, mind you, but it is what happened.
That same article does add that Bernie Sanders voted with Bush only 32 percent of the time, however it’s important to remember that he was only in the Senate for two years of Bush’s administration, and those two years were long after the love affair had ended.
The article also shows Clinton voting the party line very frequently.
On the 1,390 votes she cast in which most senators from one party voted differently from most senators across the aisle, Clinton went against the Democratic grain only 49 times – yielding a 96.5 percent party unity score. That is identical to the number during those years for John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic nominee and Clinton’s successor as secretary of state.
Just nine of the Democrats who participated in most of that period’s party unity votes toed the party line more regularly — and the Senate Democratic average was significantly lower, 88 percent, a reflection of an era when many of the party’s senators survived politically in “red” states by routinely bucking the leadership. (In the two years they were together in Senate, Sanders’ number was 97 percent.)
So she voted the party line 96.5% of the time during an era where the average Democrat voted with the party “only” 88% of the time. So she’s a DINO how, exactly? And you’ll notice that her average is only half a percent less than that of Sanders during the time they were both in the Senate. That’s pretty damn good. In fact, to be honest, even I was surprised by how consistently she voted with the party.
But, you might cry, she’s beholden to special interests! Is she, though? More from Roll Call’s article.
She voted the way big labor wanted 95 percent of the time and cast ballots the way social and economic liberals had hoped 90 percent of the time — as calculated by averaging her eight annual scorecards on key floor votes identified by the AFL-CIO and Americans for Democratic Action. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the personification of modern mainstream liberalism, yielded average percentages just a point or two higher.
On the other hand, Clinton managed to side with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on 46 percent of the votes it cared about when she was a senator, and even backed the American Conservative Union position about once in 12 votes. [Ted] Kennedy, by contrast, sided with the chamber a substantively lower 38 percent of the time and voted the ACU position no more than once every 50 roll calls.
Now there’s a bit more to unpack here, so let’s take these two paragraphs separately.
In the first, we see that she was extremely pro-union, which is certainly a sign of a good Democrat, and, as the article says, voted the way social and economic liberals wanted 90 of the time.
Admittedly, this isn’t 100%, but to me what this shows is someone who is more than willing to toe the party line, and show a commitment to her beliefs, but is also willing to be pragmatic and understand that compromises sometimes have to be made. And let’s remember that “compromise” isn’t a dirty word; it’s the basis for solid democratic government and something the Founders wanted us to have. If you don’t compromise, you get shit like the current Republican party.
As for the second paragraph…for those who don’t know, the US Chamber of Commerce is a private, pro-business, organization that generally supports Republicans, though it does also occasionally support conservative Democrats. She also voted along with the American Conservative Union sometimes, and while I’ve never heard of them, I don’t think it takes too much imagination to believe that I probably wouldn’t like them.
There’s no way around this; it’s problematical, especially if your real problem with Clinton is her economic stance.
However while this voting record reveals someone who is pro-business (and there’s no crime nor shame in that, since businesses are what keeps our country going), it also shows someone who, as the first paragraph points out, supports labor and the middle class.
That’s very important. As Lincoln pointed out, labor exists independently of capital, and deserves the greater consideration. She supports labor way more than she supports business, and so I think she shows a healthy balance here. Of course, I also don’t think free trade, NAFTA, or the TPP are bad things, and if you do, and you’re a liberal, bear in mind the millions who have been lifted out of poverty by these agreements.
I think when we look at Hillary’s record in the Senate, we see someone who is a pragmatist who is, occasionally, willing to compromise and keeps her eye on the big picture. I also see someone who protects labor, and votes the party line significantly more often than not, but who, from time-to-time, also votes in favor of business and trade, which I don’t consider to be automatically terrible.
In all, though, I think we can agree that her record in the Senate shows someone who is far from being a Democrat “in name only”, and is rather just a solid Democrat.
So that’s what she did in the Senate, but let’s take a look at what she promises to do as president, and see if she’s a DINO there.
This is pretty easy to source. We’re going to go to her campaign website, where, really, I don’t actually need to click on any of these headings to know that she’s promising quite a lot to please any Democrat.
What’s not to like if you’re a Democrat? Hell, what’s not to like if you’re a centrist, or a moderate Republican? There are two screens like that, full of excellent ideas. Let’s pick just a couple and a bit deeper.
Here are the bullet points on higher education:
Costs won’t be a barrier
Every student should have the option to graduate from a public college or university in their state without taking on any student debt. By 2021, families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities. And from the beginning, every student from a family making $85,000 a year or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public college or university without paying tuition.
All community colleges will offer free tuition.
Everyone will do their part. States will have to step up and invest in higher education, and colleges and universities will be held accountable for the success of their students and for controlling tuition costs.
A $25 billion fund will support historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions in building new ladders of opportunity for students. Read Hillary’s agenda to support HBCUs and minority-focused institutions here.
The one-quarter of all college students who are also parents will get the support they need and the resources they deserve. Read more about Hillary’s plan to support student parents here.
I think that’s all pretty fantastic. Yes, Sanders wanted free college from start to doctorate, and I’d like that, too. We can have that in time. But for now, I think this is a more realistic goal, and let’s be honest; most people aren’t going to do more than four years. If you’re a liberal, what more do you realistically expect at this point? Hell, let’s honest here: even this is going to be a challenge to get through congress. But it’s an important step.
Let’s take a look at what she says about student loans.
Debt won’t hold you back
Borrowers will be able to refinance loans at current rates, providing debt relief to an estimated 25 million people. They’ll never have to pay back more than 10 percent of their income, and all remaining college debt will be forgiven after 20 years.
Delinquent borrowers and those in default will get help to protect their credit and get back on their feet.
To reduce the burden for future borrowers, Hillary will significantly cut interest rates so the government never profits from college student loans.
Hillary’s plan will crack down on predatory schools, lenders, and bill collectors.
A new payroll deduction portal for employers and employees will simplify the repayment process—and Hillary will explore more options to encourage employers to help pay down student debt.
Aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to defer their loans with no payments or interest for up to three years. Social entrepreneurs and those starting new enterprises in distressed communities will be eligible for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness.
Hillary will take immediate executive action to offer a three-month moratorium on student loan payments to all federal loan borrowers. That will give every borrower a chance to consolidate their loans, sign up for income-based repayment plans, and take advantage of opportunities to reduce their monthly interest payments and fees.
That’s all pretty decent. Now it doesn’t include writing off all student loan debt, but why should it? People took out those loans (myself included, who owes about $44,700 and hasn’t even graduated yet), knowing they’d have to repay them. If you don’t want to pay, don’t take out the loans.
There have been problems in the past with the way the payment schedules have been handled, and the interest and repayment amounts have been pretty steep. Obama has done much to alleviate that. Hillary promises to continue this trend, while also eliminating tuition costs for most Americans.
What more do you want?
Let’s have a look at another issue. Jobs and wages.
As president, Hillary will:
Launch our country’s boldest investments in infrastructure since the construction of our interstate highway system in the 1950s.
Advance our commitment to research and technology in order to create the industries and jobs of the future.
Establish the U.S. as the clean energy superpower of the world—with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of her first term and enough clean, renewable energy to power every home in America within 10 years of her taking office.
Strengthen American manufacturing with a $10 billion “Make it in America” plan.
Cut red tape, provide tax relief and expand access to capital so small businesses can grow, hire, and thrive.
Ensure that the jobs of the future in caregiving and services are good-paying jobs, recognizing their fundamental contributions to families and to America.
Pursue smarter, fairer, tougher trade policies that put U.S. job creation first and get tough on nations like China that seek to prosper at the expense of our workers. This includes opposing trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that do not meet a high bar of creating good-paying jobs and raising pay.
Commit to a full-employment, full-potential economy and break down barriers so that growth, jobs, and prosperity are shared in every community in America.
Much of this isn’t entirely realistic. It’s extremely unlikely that large scale, high-paying, entry-level manufacturing jobs (like those much of America was able to get back in the fifties and sixties), are going to return to this country. It’s just not going to happen, trade deals or no. I also roll eyes at the “get tough on China” part.
But the rest of this is fine, as is her promise (not listed on the site, but made several times, including during her convention speech, and in fairness, it might be listed there and I just couldn’t find it), to push for a much higher minimum wage. That’ll improve living for most everyone.
Let’s have a look at one last issue: climate change.
On day one, Hillary Clinton will set bold, national goals that will be achieved within 10 years of taking office:
- Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of Hillary’s first term.
- Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
- Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.
Hillary’s plan will deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference—without relying on climate deniers in Congress to pass new legislation. She will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025 relative to 2005 levels and put the country on a path to cut emissions more than 80 percent by 2050.
As president, Hillary will:
Defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances that are already helping clean our air, save families money, and fight climate change.
Launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy, including for low-income families. Read the fact sheet here.
Invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs and careers. Read the fact sheet here.
Ensure safe and responsible energy production. As we transition to a clean energy economy, we must ensure that the fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible and that areas too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table. Read the fact sheet here.
Reform leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and waters tenfold within a decade.
Cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies have enjoyed for too long and invest in clean energy.
Cut methane emissions across the economy and put in place strong standards for reducing leaks from both new and existing sources.
Revitalize coal communities by supporting locally driven priorities and make them an engine of U.S. economic growth in the 21st century, as they have been for generations. Read the fact sheet here.
Make environmental justice and climate justice central priorities by setting bold national goals to eliminate lead poisoning within five years, clean up the more than 450,000 toxic brownfield sites across the country, expand solar and energy efficiency solutions in low-income communities, and create an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force. Read the fact sheet here.
Promote conservation and collaborative stewardship. Hillary will keep public lands public, strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, as well as harness the immense economic potential they offer through expanded renewable energy production, a high quality of life, and a thriving outdoor economy. Read the fact sheet here.
Seriously, what more do you people want? The only other person who stands a realistic chance of being elected is Donald Trump. He’s from a party that believes human-caused climate change is a fiction, and he personally has said he believes it’s a conspiracy by the Chinese. Do you really think that he’s going to be better on the environment than Hillary will be?
And honestly, what other Democratic positions do you want her to have on climate change, or on anything, really? What we have in this set of promises is a very bold, very liberal, but not overly so, set of commitments that any Democrat would be proud to run on. How does this make her a DINO?
When I look at Hillary’s record, I see someone who, in her youth, flirted with moderate conservativism before becoming a liberal. I see someone who is clearly now a liberal, and a solid Democrat, not a DINO at all.
I see as well someone who is a pragmatic person, and willing to compromise. Someone who is willing to settle for 50% of what she wants rather than ending up with zero. Compromise is essential in politics and while I might want Democrats in general to compromise a little less than they do, I recognize that we cannot, as Ted Kennedy said, allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.
I also see someone who is far more rational than Jill Stein. I see someone who believes in actual science, and doesn’t flirt with vaccine denial or belong to a party that thinks homeopathy is totally a thing.
Yes, Hillary isn’t going to legalize marijuana, pull back all our troops who are overseas, gut the military, destroy the banks, and bring about a utopia.
But what she will likely do is continue to allow states to legalize it. She probably won’t engage in any greater level of overseas involvement than Obama has. The president doesn’t control the size of the military or its budget; that’s all on Congress, and significant reforms to that entity are very unlikely prior to 2018. The banks will likely face stronger regulations and oversight than we’d get under Trump. And we won’t end up with a utopia, but I’m pretty sure the average American’s life will be better after four years of Hillary than it is now. I’m very sure it will be better with four years of her than it owuld be with four years of Trump.
Tomorrow we’ll venture into the world of Trump, and compare him to her, and see who you’d rather have in office. We’ll also delve deep into the mathematics (god help me), of why a vote for anyone other than Hillary amounts to a vote for Trump