Unintended consequences. I believe when it’s all said and done that Bill — and by proxy Hillary — Clinton’s biggest political blind spot is their complete inability — feigned or otherwise — to acknowledge the unintended consequences of their actions. Whether it’s repealing Glass-Steagall, the infamous “welfare reforms,” or the sweeping crime bill he signed into law during his presidency, there has been real, demonstrable collateral damage created by some of the key decisions and policies he put in place, but as his interaction with Black Lives Matter protesters in Philly showed, he’s either unwilling or unable to admit those consequences.
White Privilege, they name is “William Jefferson Clinton.”
What else but white privilege would explain the fact that all these later homey can’t just admit that while he may have had good intentions, the crime bill has been used with such ferocity, such tenacity, and such zeal that it has created a hulking, heaving incarcerated state in this country, and that disproportionately, young black men have felt the sting most? What else but privilege would allow the Clintons to focus only on the “tough on crime” aspects and not on the horrific collateral damage the policy cost? What, I ask, is it then, if it’s not privilege? Because I would think that having just a passing relationship with a member of the African American community would help someone see the unavoidably negative consequences that mass incarceration has had.
The thing is, it’s not like I believe Bill is a closet racist. He’s clearly not. But what’s also crystal clear is that the old politician in him will never die. Unlike Jimmy Carter, Clinton doesn’t have the moral fiber needed to admit he was wrong, or at least partially wrong. Instead, he gave them Slick Willy Philly Style, and it just doesn’t sit well with me. The man is able to point out the mystical craziness of Trickle Down Economics, but he can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to mass incarceration? Bullshit. He’s just not willing to take the fall for it, and he never will be.
The funny thing to me is that hardcore Clintonites are still going to wag their finger and insist the Clintons are more in-tune with the black community than Bernie Sanders is. When in point of fact this is just another example of the huge generational divide that is roiling within America’s left-leaning movement. Bill and Hillary seem completely oblivious to the fact that there is one, and perhaps two generations who have seen firsthand the effects of mass incarceration, not from the high-level, 50,000 feet perspective you get when you’re the Commander in Chief, but from the perspective you get as a child, growing up and watching fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, grandfathers and friends swooped up in thrown behind bars, many times for non-violent drug related crimes that were mostly being perpetrated because there was literally no other financial ladder available to them.
It’s the absolute zenith of white privilege to sign a policy into law that — unintentionally or not — caused the kind of damage that mass incarceration has to the African American community and then proceed to lecture those who have been so devastated about it like they weren’t living the goddamned consequences the whole time. And I’m sorry, but when Bill referred to everyone who got arrested and sentenced under his policy murderers and drug dealers, he sounded exactly like the bombastic, out of touch, bewigged bastard on the Republican side. I am positive some true, hardened criminals were locked up for a long time thanks to Clinton’s initiatives, but I am also positive — because I’m not blind and I use the Internet every day — that there were millions who should have been given community service or better yet rehab and were put behind bars instead.
I wonder if the Clintons realize that every time a white cop shoots an unarmed black kid and the local District Attorney lets him skate that they had a hand in it. Because they did. Clinton’s criminal justice “reforms” helped push the narrative that only criminals think cops shouldn’t be just a little bit above the law. It’s all part and parcel. We made a huge mistake in this country in the 90’s and we overreacted to a legitimate concern about crime. The issue I have with Bill and Hillary is less that they made the decisions they did and more that they are choosing to ignore the consequences unless they were good.
That’s called “dishonesty,” by the way, in case you’re keeping score at home.
Perhaps I’m wrong though, and maybe it’s not white privilege. Maybe it’s elitist privilege. Maybe it’s political privilege or executive privilege. Whatever the case, it’s a privileged existence when you get to sign sweeping bills that cause all kinds of damage outside the scope of your intentions and then not even look that damage in squarely in the eye. It’s a privilege, truly, to not ever face judgment or consequences — unintended though they may be — while others have paid the price with their lives and freedom.
So let me just amend my previous statement.
Privilege, they name is “William Jefferson Clinton.”