Photo by Jose Luis Magana.
This month, Hillary Clinton added another notch in her Presidential endorsement belt, with the Human Rights Campaign’s executive board unanimously voting to endorse her campaign. The HRC is one of the planet’s largest LGBT advocacy groups, and wields considerable influence thanks to its strong corporate ties, effervescent donation pool, and lobbying activities. It’s like Monsanto for gays.
One would be forgiven for thinking the HRC’s Twitter page had been hacked by Clinton’s press office. Since their endorsement last week, the HRC has dedicated almost all of its Tweets to lauding Clinton for her hard work in the name of LGBT equality, joining the ranks of Planned Parenthood, which has also incorporated its Twitter page into her campaign. Planned Parenthood declared their love for Clinton ten times in a single day last week, while the HRC had the nerve to demand that LGBT people pledge allegiance to Clinton. The two organizations seem to be vying for mother’s love like jealous children.
One can hardly stomach the sycophants any longer, nor can one tolerate their refusal to engage with their non-corporate supporters who disagree with the endorsement:
Feminists 4 Bernie (@Brains4Bern) January 19, 2016
.@HRC "Fought for us"? What has H done that Bernie hasn't (besides be 40 years late to the party)? Check your @ replies. We feel betrayed.—
Danielle Muscato (@daniellemuscato) January 19, 2016
Hopefawn Levenson (@tehmimzy) January 19, 2016
Aaron Lerma (@airbearlerma) January 19, 2016
If we follow the HRC down its jaded path of non-thought, we must accept that LGBT people owe allegiance to Clinton’s campaign because of her tireless work in the name of human rights. But we are also obliged to scrub her record clean of any inconvenient statements or votes, a mucky exercise that both organizations have readily undertaken in the process of their endorsement.
We are not, for example, permitted to question why Clinton arrived at the equality party almost forty years after Bernie Sanders did, nor are we permitted to ask why she consistently supported the most pernicious anti-gay policies in government (exhibits A and B) right up until the late 2000’s. One could ponder whether it is right to support a candidate who, in a career that spans decades, has only been in favour of same-sex marriage for less than three years.
Let us accept that HRC speaks on behalf of all LGBT people for a moment, and let us also accept that we have no right to challenge their board’s endorsement. But why, if I may be so bold, did they reach the conclusion that Clinton, not Sanders, is the right choice for the White House, when the latter is also in favour of outright LGBT equality and was in favour of it long before the former was?
Well it’s simple: Both Planned Parenthood and the HRC have endorsed Clinton on the basis of an extremely narrow criteria, and have opted for image over substance.
When considering which candidate to endorse, organizations often judge candidates based on how much they would help or harm the organizations’ specific causes. This should hardly be a point of contention: Planned Parenthood deals with access to healthcare for women; they’re not going to judge a candidate first and foremost on their Arctic drilling policy. Nor would Greenpeace necessarily demand to know a candidate’s tax reform plans. But by sticking to this narrow litmus test and ignoring other policy areas – as both PP and the HRC have clearly done – one runs the risk of harming the very people one is supposed to be helping.
For one thing, minorities are not aliens from the planet Oog, sent here to observe and gather data without getting involved in day-to-day living. Minorities may experience flavours of hardship that their straight, cisgender and male counterparts do not, but they also experience the same hardships that non-minorities do too. The bank accounts of gay people were not able to miraculously fend off the 2008 financial crisis. The legs of female soldiers in Iraq were not super resistant to IEDs.
If Clinton is right that “gay rights are human rights”, then a candidate’s specific policies towards minorities cannot be the only important factor. Other policies matter, or else all we need to do is hand out marriage licenses to gay people and shout “go on now, be free!” as they dance away into the sunset. The fight for equality does not end when the Supreme Court hands us a victory.
To that end, even if one takes PP and the HRC’s narrow criteria at face value, the endorsements simply make no sense. Take Planned Parenthood’s mission statement, which nobly demands that women have the freedom to police their own bodies. Why then, would PP not endorse Bernie Sanders, who believes in a single-payer healthcare system? Misogynistic pro-lifers may be a threat to a woman’s autonomy, but so is money, and the barbed-wire barriers in front of hospitals are fundamentally financial as well as social.
One can debate the specifics of Sanders’ plan, and ask whether it is viable, but PP has skipped that discussion, ignored his policies entirely, and opted instead for Clinton’s meagre additions to Obamacare instead.
That leads us to the crucial question: Why? Why go straight for the first Democratic candidate who isn’t as dangerous and unhinged towards minorities as Donald Trump? Why must mainstream liberal organizations always turn off their brain when faced with information that contradicts the viability of their candidate? Where is the critical thinking?
A possible conclusion is that PP and the HRC are corrupt institutions that, as Michaelangelo Signorile points out, have traded their endorsements for “access to the White House” and promises of proper funding. This is certainly true in the case of the HRC, whose President once worked inside Bill Clinton’s administration and who personally raised funds of $100,000 for Clinton’s 2008 campaign – a campaign where she was against same-sex marriage. Griffin seems to steer his organization in the direction of money and showbiz, not principles, to the point where he will even shower an anti-gay candidate with money in return for praise.
In short, it would be no stretch of the imagination to suppose that Clinton has privately assured PP and the HRC that they will want for nothing if she is President.
If this is the case, the thinking behind the endorsement is clear: PP and the HRC can rest assured that a Clinton Presidency will not harm their organizations’ financial standing, and they will be spared the effects of her wider foreign and domestic policies. Sure, she may wreak havoc on the poor and working class in America, but what do the board of directors at the HRC care?