Why Hillary Should Declare, “I’m Worth It”

Who can stand the sexist attacks on Hillary’s speaking fees?

The questions aim to make voters aware that, while not in office, Hillary accepted huge fees for speaking to audiences that included big banks.  Like many effective campaign tactics, however, questioning the legitimacy of her fees also serves other, less-than-creditable ends.  The questions implicitly cast aspersions on Hillary Clinton’s essential worth, on her value as a veteran stateswoman, and on the integrity of the speaking engagements themselves.  The issue is a classic ‘dog-whistle’ tuned to the frequency of the envious and chauvinistic.

The underlying assumption?  Something must be wrong because Hillary couldn’t possibly be worth that kind of money.  Thank god Hillary is running for office!  She’s giving us an opportunity to express our resentment toward women who defy social norms and out-perform men.  How dare she make that kind of money in one day?

What’s clear from Secretary Clinton’s responses is that she doesn’t feel guilty.  She doesn’t feel implicated in the banks’ decision to pay up to hear what’s in her heart and brain.  Thank goodness she isn’t apologizing for the very legitimate demand within the business community to learn from one of the nation’s most experienced leaders.

But Hillary, for the sake of all women struggling against their own glass ceilings, you must go a step further.  You must assert that your experience and perspective on American politics are unique, and that, in the eyes of the market, you deserve your fees.

You might lose the anti-capitalist vote, but you’d win the gratitude of millions of American women who are tired of being treated as though they can’t possibly be worth as much as a man.

7 responses

  1. Shouldn’t the question be why anyone is paid $335,000 for 20 minutes of their time when they claim to represent the interests of, among others, the 1.46 million US households who survive on $2 or less per day before government benefits?

    • Honestly, I think the question with respect to Hillary should be whether you think she has a good heart, and whether, were she elected, she would work to enhance the general welfare of ordinary Americans.

      Every figure wholeheartedly devoted to public service has to get his or her money from somewhere. After her last run for the presidency, Hillary Clinton and her campaign were deeply in debt. I think it is legitimate to give speeches in exchange for money, and I don’t see that as representing a ‘tie to Wall Street.’

      Most of our presidents have had considerable wealth, and many of those–think of FDR–have done a lot of good for the people.

      We’ll all be sunk if we fail to elect a president who can work with Congress. On the Democratic side, there is only one candidate who fits the bill.

      Thanks for writing in.

  2. And yet Hillary has been in public service for decades and, good heart or no, has been so at a time when the gap between the most well off and the worse off has massively increased. My comment isn’t a criticism of her per se, but rather a criticism of a system, for want of a better word, in which organisations and companies think that spending those sums of money to secure a speakers services is justifiable.

    Oxfam recently reported that the 62 richest people in the world now possess a combined wealth that is equal to that of half the world’s population. It’s certainly not equitable, it’s arguably unfair, and I’d go as far to say that it’s immoral. Hillary may be well intentioned but she is also part of the status quo and power arrangements that have created this imbalance. Is it right that the Clinton’s earned $153 million from speaker’s fee from 2001 to 2015, or 6,358 times the USA national annual median personal income for all individuals over the age of 18?

    I take your point that American politics at the national level is an expensive business but would say that the model currently followed is not the only model. As a nation you could, for example, provide public funding for presidential campaigning, legislate for national broadcasters to carry campaign broadcasts and national debates at zero cost to the public purse, and set a cap on the spending by all parties and candidates from both public and private sources.

    I’m also of the opinion that a democratic political system that could allow the same two families to hold the highest office for 28 out of 36 years from 1989 to 2025 is one that needs to be examined very closely.

    • To be honest, I’m glad Bernie Sanders is getting masses of people fired up about politics again. But electing Sanders president isn’t going to lessen income inequality. To do that, you need to have a long-lasting mass political movement. The people who have been most hurt by the center-right politics of the past 15 or 20 years need to get organized and stay involved, in a party that represents them. This is something that’s been missing from Democratic politics for decades. But do the Sanders fans have the conviction and discipline it takes to remake politics in this fashion? I sincerely doubt it. Occupy, for instance, came and went without producing a single leader or substantive systemic change. Important reforms typically take decades of slogging to accomplish. I doubt whether the starry-eyed people coming out for Sanders have that kind of steel in them.

  3. Indeed, Hillary is now taking a lot of heat about her speaking fees. Yes, I agree with you that a large part of it is for the reasons you mention. Sanders, however, has attacked her as being too cozy with big banks and therefore not true to herself when she tries to distance herself from them……………..By the by-a nice post and well written !

  4. Your view on the commitment of Sanders’ supporters may well be true. I’m from the UK so have no direct experience from which to make any comment on the popular mood in America at the moment, or the willingness of the American left to go the distance. Perhaps Sanders will not be able to effect meaningful change if he’s elected, perhaps the surge in political interest and activity will surge out. What is certain is that if people who want to vote for Sanders choose to vote for Clinton instead, because it’s a safer bet for a Democratic victory, there won’t be an opportunity for any of his programme to be realised.

    Perhaps we should also be speaking of income equity, rather than income equality. I have no issue with investors, business founders, and shareholders making reasonable profits, or in there being a gradation of salary related to the job role and level of responsibility individuals hold. What I disagree with is the massive imbalance between the highest paid and the lower paid in many companies.

    To give both Sanders and Clinton their due, they both have admirable aims on the issue of incomes. I’m perhaps more hopeful than you that change may be achieved more quickly. I’m minded of European co-operative companies for example who pay their lower paid employees at higher rates than market averages, and their highest paid employees at lower rates than their market equivalents. Due to high European tax rates the highest paid often receive little less take-home pay than their counterparts in limited companies who pay more tax on their higher salaries. Perhaps legislation or tax breaks could be introduced that encourage companies to adopt a co-operative model because it is more favourable to them.

    My opinion on Occupy is that it has achieved little because it represents so many diverse interest groups and organizations, each with their own agenda. For a protest movement this is fine, as it mobilizes more people. For an organization that hopes to achieve actual change, it’s a recipe for failure. I spoke to a number of Occupy supporters in London and Dublin and came away with the impression that, while passionate in their desire for equality and social justice, they had no substantive ideas on what should be done to effect change. Of course, this only reflects the conversations I had with a very small number of people from the total who were protesting.

    By comparison both Clinton and Sanders will benefit from representing a single programme, should either secure the Presidency. Hopefully this will allow them to make progress in years rather than decades.

    • Without any evidence of a larger movement consonant with his agenda, Sanders is actually misleading voters. His ideas have no prospect of being realized. He is not alone: most of the GOP candidates are also desperately promising the moon in order to get the voters behind them. Sanders has not been a leader or even an influential member of the Senate, where perhaps he has been wasting his particular political talents. It’s a shame he has not been working at the state level to organize support for a new party, or a new kind of Democratic ideology. But the problem is his ideology is not new; it’s a bunch of old proposals that have never gained traction in the mainstream.

      Unfortunately we live in the land of the almighty dollar.

      I appreciate your well-informed comments.