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July 30, 2016
After the Conventions
    by Robert Kropp

While it seems implausible that investors concerned with environmental and social justice will vote for Donald Trump, some of the positions take by Hillary Clinton during her years of public service merit scrutiny.


Amid the bombast and outright demagoguery of last week's Republican National Convention, one surprising addition to the party's platform stood out: its apparent support for reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.

The Glass-Steagall Act prevented commercial banks from acting as investment banks as well. It was repealed by President Clinton and a Republican Congress in 1999. its repeal allowed for mergers in the financial industry that led a consolidation in which the major banks became too big to fail.

Elsewhere, although Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the writers of the platform decided to remove all references to it, because “we have some senators who are running across the country that were in support of it at one time,” a Republican delegate was quoted by Politico stated.

Otherwise, the platform—as well as the ugly rhetoric persistently uttered by the party's candidate—leave little if anything for sustainable investors to support. Even as the climate crisis becomes a matter increasingly impacting the lives of more and more global citizens, the party persists in maintaining the fiction of climate denial. The frankly immoral growth of wealth inequality will be ignored, with the nominal leader of the party too busy celebrating some illusion of superiority on the basis of largely inherited wealth. And his rhetoric around refugees and immigration in general is simply too repugnant for a global citizen to consider.

The party platform unveiled at this week's Democratic convention takes a markedly different approach to the issue of climate change. “Climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers and defeatists in Congress to start listening to science,” the platform states; and, as sustainable investors have been arguing for years, “Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs.”

Also, with the federal minimum wage languishing at a mere $7.25, Democrats call for an increase of it to $15; a standard first set forth during the primary campaign by Senator Bernie Sanders, and one to which presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was slow in coming around. And during the hard-fought Democratic primaries, Clinton reversed her previous position on TPP and came out against it; incidentally, she was a champion of the treaty while serving as Secretary of State.

However, when the platform was drawn up, efforts by Sanders delegates to include opposition to TPP were blocked, ostensibly due to the fact that it is supported by President Obama.

Both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns agreed on platform language calling for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall; because of Clinton's historically cozy relationship with Wall Street banks, successful reinstatement will at least temper concerns that she will fail to rein in the excesses that brought down the global economy in 2008.

Of course, sustainable investors and others possessing a global sense of social justice will be watching the oft-repeated observations about Clinton's positions on global conflict. From her vote as Senator in favor of the Iraq invasion to her enthusiastic support for regime change in a number of countries, the charge has been made that she “never met a war she didn't like.” But the importance of the issue transcends mere anecdote, and representations of her positions can be read at
On the Issues.

Because of the surprising strength of the candidacy of Sanders, Clinton tacked to the left on many issues—such as TPP, for example—during the primary season. Many of the positions were subsequently captured in the party's platform. But it is plausible to assume that like most Democratic candidates before her, Clinton will assume the support of the left and tack back to the right in order to pick off moderate Republicans appalled at a Trump candidacy. Particularly in the areas of global conflict and wealth inequality, proponents of social justice will do well to keep her stated positions during the primaries in mind, and ensure that her Presidency does not become the neoliberal platform that leftists fear.

Unless voters are willing to risk their votes on a third-party candidate in an election that could be closely contested, the choice seems obvious. Despite her flaws, Clinton has the experience to be President. Her opponent is a disaster.

 

 
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