Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders

February 13, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
With a backlog of the double-digit defeat in the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton bounced back with a renewed vigor and robust confidence during the sixth debate of the Democratic Party race and the second exclusively between Mrs. Hillary Clinton and Senator Sanders. The debate was held on February 11, 2016 at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Milwaukee is the largest city in the State of Wisconsin.
While both the candidates were quite aggressive and assertive in dishing out their plans and policies as the next president of the United States, Mrs. Clinton appeared to be more composed, persuasive and eloquent. She responded to the jabs of her Democratic opponent in a rather calm and unruffled tone. In response to the personal salvo from Mr Sanders such as “Secretary Clinton, you’re not in the White House yet,” Hillary chose to deflect it by ignoring those comments.
Comparing the merits of both the democratic contenders, one may point out that Sanders if elected would be a fresh entrant into the power corridors as well as occupant of the highest and most prestigious position of the president of the United States.
If elected, Mr Sanders would be the first Jewish president of the United States. Mr. Sanders is known as a proponent of socialism. He may face stiff resistance from well entrenched super duper private enterprises and business cartels in implementing his socialist agenda.
Understandably there could be hurdles in his way from the Congress where the Republicans most of whom are the sponsors of huge businesses and financial enterprises.
Even their Democratic cohorts may oppose Sanders’ agenda of change. Senator Sanders’ socialist manifesto encompasses no tax breaks to billionaires and “creation of millions of jobs for low-income kids so that they’re not hanging out on the street corners.”
In his debates Sanders’ entire focus has been on overhauling the economy, taxation on the affluent classes and expanding health-care. It means that in a capitalist economy based upon free enterprise, he wants to expand and enlarge the role of the government.
He aims at diminishing the overbearing influence of the huge business enterprises like Wall Street, Insurance companies, and banks as well as industrial and business cartels. He wants the Medicare and other social services to be under the control of the government; partially or wholly.
This is like a revolution although it cuts across the influence and rip- off of the wealthy classes and cartels. His plan to extend and expand the government network would entail huge additional government spending for which he would increase taxes on the affluent sections.
Mrs. Clinton if elected would be the first female president of the United States of America. She is a moderate and wants to bring about changes in the present set up of governance for which she claims to have ample experience and a package of far reaching reforms for the economic uplift of the country and for extending more benefits and services to the people.
In Mrs. Clinton reckoning, Mr. Sanders’ package of plans would cost the national exchequer additional trillions of dollars or 40 per cent over the existing spending. She alleged that Senator Sanders was not being truthful in revealing the cost of the programs such as his proposed expansion of government healthcare.
On the volatile issue of the immigrants both seems to on the same page. Both support a benign policy about immigration and maximum accommodation of the uprooted people from civil war ridden societies. But their perceptions and plans differ in regard to their settlement.
Mr. Sanders criticized Mrs. Clinton for telling CNN in 2014 that the children who entered the United States from Central America should be sent back, which was taken by the Latinos with a great deal of bitterness.
However, Mrs. Clinton clarified that she was not against the children coming into United States. She merely wanted to convey to the parents that they should not send their children to America alone who invariably fall into the hands of smugglers.
During their debate quite an interesting situation developed. The moderator of the debate asked both the contenders to name their role model leaders. Mr. Sander named Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. In comparison Hillary mentioned the legendary South African leader Nelson Mandela and Mr. Obama. This was interpreted as a race based choice: Sanders for white leaders and Hillary for none-whites.
Bernie Sanders is a very experienced person as a senator. In case of victory he would be one of the senior presidents. His advanced age (74) may hamper his decision making prowess. He is earnest about his ground breaking reforms. But first of all it depends on his being elected as the president. Secondly, would the ground realities be favorable for him to move forwards with his watershed program and policies?
On the contrary Hillary Clinton is relatively younger (68). She possesses a reservoir of experience first as the first lady and second as the secretary of state in foreign affairs. By virtue of her being the Secretary of State (2009-2013) during the first tenure of president Obama, Mrs. Clinton lays claim of having wider and extensive experience in the domain of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Sanders rebutted this claim of her by censuring Mrs. Clinton’s 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq and also being responsible for the consequent ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya. He alleged that her myopic and erroneous judgment on Libya and Iraq led to civil wars in those lands which are still raging.
Over the most pressing question of discrimination against African-Americans in employment, education, housing and the criminal justice system, Both Mrs. Hillary and Sanders seemed to be on the same page. Yet Secretary Clinton went beyond by denouncing the faith based discrimination especially against the Muslims whom she overwhelmingly portrayed as the first line of defense for the United States.
It appears that Mrs. Clinton is focused on reinforcing her support among the minority population to dilute the influence and relative popularity of Senator Sanders among the youth, minorities and underprivileged, low income groups and working classes.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog

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