By The Progressive on April 23, 2008

In her victory speech in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton seemed to be channeling John Edwards, talking about her grandfather who worked in the Pennsylvania lace mills, and acknowledging a debt to her working class forbears. "I carry with me not just their dreams but the dreams of people like them and like you . . . people who embrace hard work and opportunity," she told the crowd.

Never mind that Hillary is the Wellesley-educated daughter of a prosperous, Republican family in Park Ridge, Illinois. She's been milking that working-class connection throughout the long second act of her campaign.

"I'm in this race for you, to fight for everyone who's ever been counted out," she said, after taking the stage to the strains of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down."

Hillary implies in her "I'll fight fer you" speeches that she won't back down because of her progressive values and her drive to serve the needs of America's forgotten lower middle class.

One unintended consequence of the long primary campaign is that Hillary has switched from the "inevitable," pro-military, establishment candidate to a presenting herself as a scrappy populist challenging the powers that be.

As John Nichols has noted in the Nation.

She has been campaigning lately as if she were not just Edwards but Ralph Nader, bashing NAFTA, talking about America's loss of "economic sovereignty" to trade deals that let multinational corporations run roughshod over U.S. workers and the environment, and warning that the trade deficit with China gives that country too much power over our financial system.

Of course, the record doesn't stand up to these claims: Hillary was a booster of NAFTA during the Clinton years, her records as First Lady show. And her husband gave us Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China.

There is something profoundly dishonest about Hillary's pitch that she is staying in the race for all those families whose homes have been foreclosed on or who work the night shift and worry about paying for college. The truth, which she herself acknowledged in the last, disreputable debate, is that her positions on the issues are not all that different from Obama's. Unlike Edwards, who, as long as he stayed in the race, played an important role by bringing up the issue of poverty and the corrupting influence of money in politics, to the other candidates' chagrin, Hillary is hanging in there for one reason only: her own desire to win. All Presidential candidates are driven by ego, of course. But some can credibly tap into the desires of a constituency that isn't otherwise represented.

Who really believes that Hillary will govern as the progressive she has recently morphed into during the campaign?

Obviously, she was persuasive enough to Pennsylvanians to get a 10 point victory over Obama. But that was after a campaign where she attacked her opponent on nonissues like flag pins and attenuated ties to 1960s radicals.

She may yet prove that she is meaner, tougher, and more willing to try anything to win than Obama. But the idea that, in doing so,- she is championing the interests of anyone other than herself is transparently false.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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