Even as Hillary Rodham Clinton vows to throw down the powerful and the rich elite 1 percent of the American population, she forgets that she is the front-runner of the group. While she talks about hedge fund managers paying less in taxes than nurses, she forgets the long list of Wall Street corporations which fund her. Open Secret, the website which collects FEC data, showed that Clinton contributors include Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley, to name a few of the financial institutions.
A recent study by Professor Benjamin I Page, Northwestern University and Professor Martin Gilens, Princeton University, found out that the U.S. is dominated by the economic elites and the powerful. The study, in fact, goes on to say that while the country does enjoy democratic features, such as elections and debates, it is now threatened by the rich people. They cited instances when economically elite Americans went up against a majority of citizens and emerged victorious. There is a strong status quo bias in the political system and the U.S. is slowly moving towards oligarchy. The top 1 percent will have their say and Clinton is backed by these people.
Was She Always Rich?
Clinton tells people that she was not born into wealth and neither did she marry into it. The couple did not inherit their wealth and on occasion they have said that they earned money the hard way: by speaking and writing. Bill’s own father was a traveling salesman who passed away before Bill was even born and his stepfather was a gambler and alcoholic. He got scholarships to study at the Georgetown University and University College, Oxford. He then went on to Yale Law school where he first met Hillary. Her father was a successful small business owner and she went on to study at Wellesley College and then at the Yale. While not rich, Hillary’s family was well-off.
Both, Bill and Hillary were not rich, but in 2012 when they disclosed their finances, Hillary’s net worth was found to be between $5 million to $50 million. This was the same Hillary, who had claimed that the couple had been broke and in debt, after leaving the White House in 2001. In the interim years, the couples net worth grew dramatically and the combined, as estimated by 24/7 Wall St. is roughly $55 million. It was after leaving office, that they struck gold as money started coming in from public appearances. Clinton cannot forget that she is now a part of the 1 percent crowd that consists of the affluent elites.
How Powerful is Hillary Clinton
Clinton was sixth on the list of Forbes magazine’s “25 most powerful women” in 2014 and the “most powerful woman in American history” according to Newsweek in 2013. When she became the first American woman to hold national office, she was hailed as a front-runner for the feminist movement. She has supported various women’s issues and human rights issues and in her roles as the First Lady and the Secretary of State, traversed the world. She is a well known name in politics. The best or the worst thing that has happened since, is that no other woman politician has been able to replicate her success.
Clinton now has a national presence. Her paid speaking work and autobiography have made her more popular. She is a serious contender in her second presidential bid as she is running mostly unopposed in the Democratic primary. She has almost become a brand now.
And Her Message Is
Clinton’s campaign message is still unclear. She says that she wants to “reshuffle the cards” so that they do not favor the rich, but she being funded by them.
People are left confused by what she actually means when she joins the populist call for inequality. Anything too radical, and she will be called a communist, like President Obama was when he launched Obamacare. Anything too soft and people will be unable to understand what she stands for, as is the case now.
Even as she slams corporate welfare and the elites, the forgetful Clinton needs to clear the air about her high speaking fees and her own income. She cannot, in all her right senses, stand against the wealthy, when her income exceeds that of some CEOs. If she hopes to become the first woman president of the U.S., she has to prove that she will not be a “Wall Street president,” but a leader of the masses. She needs to show people that she will lead the country away from oligarchy and build a world where overcoming inequality might actually become a reality and not just lip-service from a presidential candidate.
Opinion by Anugya Chitransh
BBC: Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy
OpenSecrets.Org: Hillary Clinton Donors
24/7 Wall St.: The 10 Richest U.S. Presidents
Politico: Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street backers: We get it
Photo Courtesy of Marc Nozell’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Screenshot of Campaign Contibutors Courtesy of OpenSecrets.Org