Open Letter to Hillary Re College for All


And Hope over Nope

“Now personally, I don’t want to be paying for Donald Trump to send his kids and grandkids to college,” she said. “I want to pay to send your kids and grandkids to college.”

Yes, Hillary, I would be willing to pay for Donald Trump to send his kids and grandkids  to college-through my taxes and yours-albeit yours should be at a considerably higher percentage than mine! 2016-05-07 12.22.25 (640x360)

Yesterday Hillary came to the Town, Oakland that is, and I dropped by outside to see what was going on. One friend was standing outside with a handmade sign containing a list of complaints against our presumptive nominee and a few young folk were chanting “Bernie,”and I mean a few, five or six. I heard someone got thrown out for some kind of heckling but altogether, judging from the selfies, a good time was had by most. 2016-05-06 15.10.37 (387x640)

Local reporter and father of the darling Silas-who was featured in a photo in the pages of our paper formerly known as last week-Matt Artz covered her comments. She took a hit at Bernie once again since he has a viable campaign operation for the California primary-when and where I will cast my vote for him for the last time.

Now, let me state again to the chagrin of my most purest of friends, that I will vote for the woman when November comes (but not in the June primary–Bernie !) I may even find myself campaigning for her but I wish she would stop making it so damn hard!

Ok, here I won’t go into her hawkish bona fides, perhaps the most horrendous part of her record, most recently in Honduras, murder capital of the world, in no small part thanks to us, the US. I admit that I try to not read all the lurid details of her dealings with corporations, I don’t blame her for husband’s love of mass incarceration, etc, because I believe all the Republicans, not just Trump, are evil and promote cruelty towards anyone who hasn’t been lucky or  who doesn’t look like them-I need to be able to vote for her.

I’m honestly so frustrated with these tirades against the so-called far left ideas of Bernie’s that I’m reduced to sputtering. But I’ll give it a try.

Dear Hillary,

I’m a single mom whose kids attended public school all their lives. They struggled with a barely funded system where everyone tries to get into the right elementary school, you know what I mean, the ones in the white neighborhoods whose parents can afford amenities like a school counselor or librarian (now even having a school library is a privilege not a right.)

They both went away to HBCUs, you know, historically Black universities and colleges, but you knew that acronym right? I paid for housing and living much as I could though I’ve never even made what is now considered median wage-still working at 69 btw–but they took out loans and I took out loans. My son went to law school, looks like he’ll be paying them back the rest of his life.

I came to California when it had truly free higher ed which has been gone since Reagan, of course, but unlike many countries that didn’t include rent and food and living in California was never cheap.

So let me explain something-In case you’ve noticed California still has a rep as a place of innovation and forward thinking due in no small part to our once free higher education guarantees. There was no means test for those guarantees. And why would there be?

Do we have a means test, in other words, a sliding scale of charges for our K-12 program? Our public libraries? Well do we? When  you drive on the highway, have we instituted a sliding scale cause Donald Trump can afford to pay?

How about social security? Many have argued that it should include a means test and that wealthier people don’t deserve it? Do you think for one minute that social security would have survived if it were just for the poor?

So here’s the first problem I see with your plan. In our country where white supremacy informs all our decisions, including who is the deserving poor and that resentment trickles down to all in need-college assistance for the poor would be ill-funded and subject to immediate defunding at the first sign of distress. Americans would resent it because someone they didn’t like might get it. They would resent it because they got it and it would be seen as a handout, charity, a dirty word in our society since its founding.

Of course, a college funding program would also preclude free egalitarian universities where everyone is on a equal footing which would look something like our public schools are supposed to look. So that’s truly utopian, I guess, though some countries seem to have those kinds of schools where no matter your color or parents’ level of income, you get a k through 12 school that’s clean and safe and all decked out with the latest books, computers, and unleaded paint, etc. But that’s the subject of a whole other column, er, letter.

That leads me to another little thing, why would you seek to lead the Democratic Party, a party you claim is against all that Trump and those other nasty little men the Republicans put in office, promote a mean-spirited plan that pits us against Trump’s grandchildren? How Trumpian is that?! What if Trumps’ kids decided not to pay for their children’s education, should we punish them for that?  Once again , how-trickle-down-resentment, how Trumpian is that?

It’s quite one thing to use the anger many of us (including me) have against the 1% to attack their plans to make all our lives harder. And it’s another thing to assert that free higher ed is some far out idea that only silly people believe in despite the fact that many countries, even those not overly wealthy, provide it and healthcare and childcare-when you know how doable it is!! As Secretary of State, you did travel a bit, am I right?

Is it because you don’t think you can convince Americans that paying taxes for something you can see and use instead of weaponry and bank bailouts is just too much work.? Or is it a cynical ploy to make Bernie appear less pragmatic than you? But free public university and college education is the best way to build a future for our kids, it’s a viable economic plan. You, who have details on the tips of your fingers, can certainly make a case for higher ed for all.

Maybe the problem is that your class doesn’t want its taxes raised so that my class of folks can attend college without bankrupting our future, maybe they want us indebted and servile forever. I hope that’s not it, but I have to consider that. It’s also true that poor people are more generous than the rich-watch them tip and give to panhandlers if you don’t believe it.

Bottom line, Hillary, you won’t inspire the young or their parents by telling us we can’t do what we want for our children because someone elses children might benefit too. Just stop it. That’s not the kind of world we want.

We want a larger vision, not a shrunken one. We want a better world, not a slightly improved one. As someone else put it, we want Hope not Nope.I know I need to vote for you in the fall—so stop making it so damn hard!

Oh,by the way, Happy Mother’s Day!



Another Mother for Hope




10 Comments on "Open Letter to Hillary Re College for All"

  1. Zipporah Collins | May 7, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Reply

    Bravo! ********************************* Zipporah W. Collins 768 Peralta Avenue Berkeley, CA 94707-1842 510-524-2481 phone 510-684-0142 cell 510-527-4155 fax


  2. Tim Spencer | May 7, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Reply

    I understand your concerns but I do not agree with your ideas.
    I believe that college should be accessible to all that can and want to attend. Free education is unsustainable. Yes, a few countries still do. I have been there and spoke with many political and educators. They believe it is not sustainable in the long term.
    Instead of giving something away, what about if we make it reasonable priced?
    Compared to other states, what we pay in taxes is absurd! And that’s no even enough to make college education is free. In general, I don’t believe in free. People perceives free as invaluable and usually he quality goes quickly down. It’s free so why not?…
    I just want to voice my concerns about free education and fairness. I have seen amazing individuals have great lives because of hard work and perseverance. Many times they thought about quitting and leave stress free because of he high and rising tuition costs. At the same time they value what was given. They clearly stated that a much cheaper education, but not free, will encourage bright and willing students to rise up.
    Tim S.

  3. Dear Pamela,

    Thank you for your perspectives and your ability to articulate them. The key is to restore the wealth to the people, stop a system where 1 family owns more than 40% of the rest of us, and use that wealth to provide the basics to folks in our country, where well over 20% of the kids go to bed hungry (a world-wide, sad embarrassment).


  4. Great response, Pam. Thanks!


  5. What is it about Clinton, then, that makes you want to vote for her? She’s a hawk and a compliant friend of the corporate elite. Her best ideas are those that she’s taken from Sanders and repackaged into a “doable” agenda that (one can reasonably wonder) she may never pursue. Is it just because she’s a woman (Sanders is good on women’s issues, too)? Is it because, as a newly-arriving Boomer elder/retiree (like many of us), you think her “continuity” is less risky to your financial future (401k, pension plan, social security, etc.) than Sanders’ plan to root out corporate domination of our politics and economic affairs? Is it that “political revolution” was just a fanciful expression we Boomers used in our youth, not something to be pursued with our next-youngers (GenXers and Millennials whose very future depends on breaking the stranglehold of corporations on our civilization and the planet)? Is it because Trump is a dangerous buffoon, maybe even a “fascist,” and Clinton is the lesser evil?

    Are these the reasons that compel your support of Clinton despite her serious flaws and despite the mounting evidence that Sanders can more readily beat Trump (and that Clinton might not even do that)?

    I ask because you are a blogger, you have readers, you are part of professional and political circles with influence and you have family (I’m assuming) that respects your opinion. And the California primary is June 7 with the last date for online registration (and the option of changing registration to Democrat so as to participate in the closed primary) is May 23. If you want to make a real difference in this election, now is the time to act. Very likely, a Sanders victory in California will drive elected and super delegates, alike, to reassess Clinton’s coronation, and it could set up a Trump v Sanders referendum on the basic content of America’s next social contract. A Sanders victory in November would steal the Presidency from the corporations and their neoliberal/imperialist policies, crucially resetting global power at this critical juncture in world affairs.

    Necessarily, Millennials and GenXers must look farther ahead than we aging Boomers, but we too have a stake and, nevertheless, must put our children and grandchildren first. Someday, they will ask if we stood up to the old, dilapidated, dysfunctional regime or not. And, if not, they will wonder whatever happened to that fervent mantra of Boomer youth: Change the World!

    Although there likely will be other chances (2020?), we have the chance to win now. This is no time to dawdle with Clinton. I urge you to reconsider and do everything you can to move voters to Sanders in the three weeks remaining.

  6. Steve, thanks for the blog/response. I guess I confused you by not clearing stating that I’m voting for Bernie in the primary, something I’ve said many times in previous blogs–but I fixed that just now. That doesn’t mean I see a path to the nomination at this point nor do I believe polls about who could win in November that have been taken in May!
    At one point I was very afraid of the reaction of even centrists Dems not to mention Republicans, towards Bernie but now I’m concerned that the Dems are presenting an option that seems too safe to a populace that wants something new, just dunno though, not as certain as you or some other folks about how things will look then.
    I will say that Obama was in some ways, our best chance at change in our hawkish, imperialist ways, as he is the only president in the last century or so who had actual experience living in other cultures and an understanding that not everyone thinks we’re the best there is. And, the deep state got to him, too, and controls much of his foreign policy. While I think that Hillary has the worst instincts towards foreign policy, I doubt Bernie could do more than Obama.
    Thanks for asking about my family. My daughter is a Hillary supporter and my son is for Bernie. My brother listens to Limbaugh and one of my cousins’ believes that Obama is trying to impose Shariah law. Not much I can do there.
    By the way, if Hillary is the nominee, who will you be voting for in November?

  7. Pam, I apologize in advance for the length of this response. You and your readers are forgiven (by me!) if you don’t want to go on. But your questions are good ones, and they provoke a serious response.

    I think your point about Obama succumbing to the deep state is a good one. I have no idea how a President fights the deep state, yet, I’m certain, if we’re to build a better civilization based on a new social contract that subordinates corporate prerogatives to human necessities, then the President must find the wherewithal to break the power of the deep state, the military-industrial complex and the long-established imperialist lie that it’s us against them (aka, American Exceptionalism). The really good news is that today’s generations all grew up largely aware of these problems, and their leaders — Sanders most prominently — know what we’re up against. I found it hugely refreshing that Sanders called Israel’s response to Hamas rocket fire “disproportionate.” Right there is a step in a new direction (tiny step, but a sharp departure from US (and Clinton) orthodoxy). And he said no more US troops on the ground in Syria. And, Iran and Russia must be part of any Middle East peace process. I think he sees the struggle ahead and is preparing himself to take it on. More important than his clarity is the bedrock clarity now dominating the mainstream of American politics: the war on terror was (is) a failure; keep US troops at home; question Israel; expose the security state and corporate malfeasance (Snowden, Panama Papers, Anonymous, etc.). Overcoming the deep state will be a huge and decisive battle, but one for which the public and Sanders are well-prepared (all the more so after Obama’s failure). Winning the US Presidency on an explicitly anti-corporate and objectively anti-imperialist platform is a revolutionary salvo not seen in America since FDR’s election in 1932. These are uncharted waters for contemporary corporate capitalism, and it is more vulnerable than at any time in our lives.

    So, of course, I’m very happy to learn (to be corrected in my misguidedness) that you’re supporting Sanders in the primary.

    The question of what to do in the general election (if Clinton wins the nomination), IMO, is not ripe for determination. One reason is the obvious: why discuss scenarios that may never actually come about? Better to keep the focus on the present winning possibility. But, it seems to me, discussing what one should do if Clinton wins actually helps clarify the nature of the present situation and its evolving implications. So, let me be clear: I will not vote for Trump, but neither will I vote for Clinton. Here’s why:

    In the 1850s lead-up to the Civil War (which broke out soon after the 1860 election of Lincoln), slavery loomed over both the 1856 and 1860 campaigns, but, frequently, candidates, fearing its power, kept it back-burner in their politics. Nevertheless, slavery — its rejection by most Americans and its avid defense by Southern slaveholders — forced itself into politics, breaking up traditional alliances, ending the decades-long existence of one political party (the Whigs) and spawning two new ones (the Know-Nothings and the Republicans). We’re at a similar juncture again, but now the huge background issue is corporate domination of human life.

    Trump (instinctively, but less consciously) and Sanders (very consciously) recognize the seismic quality of today’s political conflicts, but Clinton — like, unfortunately, Obama before — does not recognize (or refuses to recognize) the fundamental issue. She and Obama apparently feel that more of the same is good enough, not only for the immediate crises at hand, but also for the future of civilization as we know it. Because she is so out-of-step, I find it difficult to see how Clinton (even if she manages to defeat Sanders’ surging momentum and win the nomination) mounts a fall campaign that resonates with voters. Frankly, I find it easier to see a Trump campaign resonating, since he is unbound by ethics from simply ignoring his own past statements and saying whatever he thinks works to win votes in the general; he will get increasingly populist (learning from Sanders), appear surprisingly liberal at times, bury (with a compliant corporate media in tow) his past inflammations of minority and women fears and stress his apparently genuine anti-war sentiments. I’d never vote for him, but the fact is, many, many Americans will, probably enough to defeat Clinton (especially after Trump and the Republican PACs pound her for three full months).

    Clinton is so bad that her nomination by the Dems is likely to spark a variety of political reactions. Predicting politics is hopeless, but here’s a few scenarios. Let’s assume that Sanders is dissatisfied with Clinton (like much of the movement that propels him), and, even if formally given, his support is half-hearted. Unsatisfied with Clinton and Trump, maybe the corporate elite back an independent (Blomberg?). The Green Party, coming to its senses and realizing its opportunity at relevance, offers Sanders its top-of-the-ticket with Jill Stein accepting the VP role. Third parties and independents could proliferate at the state and local levels as well. With the fundraising and political power of both PACs and social media now well-proven, all kinds of electoral scenarios are possible. It’s hard to say, now, what a progressive voter should do.

    And, sure, everything could fizzle and settle into one more routine, wasted election before everything explodes in 2020. But, even if that is the case, why vote for Clinton this time around? The only plausible justification (from the left) is (a) Trump is a fascist and (b) Clinton is a liberal on domestic social policy. I’ve already implied (let me be explicit) that Trump is a careerist, a huckster, a hustler and not a serious political reformer (much less a serious political revolutionary). But I do not believe he is a fascist. Marx (I paraphrase) said history repeats, first as tragedy, then as farce. I think that is where civilization has come with fascism. Not that there aren’t real genocidal forces in particular situations, but too many people “get it” for that to work across the board. You just can’t export all the immigrants and keep them out with a big wall. So, even Trump at his worst is bearable (and I’ve already said that, for instance, his inclination against war abroad could be useful), though we would have a battle on our hands. But the fact is, Clinton would also be a battle on our hands. Yes, she’s liberal on social issues (not so much as Sanders), agreeing in principle even if she always mitigates with her “practicality” concerns. And she might get far less liberal once in office. But, the domestic front shouldn’t really be our chief concern; rather, her catering to corporate interests in the global economy (“free trade,” Panama tax sheltering, etc.) and her embrace of drone warfare and regime change programs overseas present a far greater danger.

    IMO, either a Clinton or a Trump Administration will be a dysfunctional nightmare (in part, of course, because neither will have majority support of the Republican-controlled Congress). Rather than a settled return to normalcy, the next four years (under either of them) are far more likely to careen from one crisis to the next, setting up a contentious 2020 election in which the movement that this time propels Sanders challenges Clinton in the primary (remember “Clean Gene” McCarthy’s challenge of LBJ in 1968).

    The bottom line is this: None of the generations that signed onto the New Deal (an excellent social contract for its time) is still alive today. Neither is the New Deal; we no longer have a social contract. Instead, we have a cross-generational demand for some kind of new contract that asserts human interests over corporate interests and offers a real way of enforcing the new order. Until that fundamental issue is resolved, we are in an 1850s or 1930s kind of time, and political stability is impossible. I think Millennials and GenXers understand this intuitively (since their future depends on it), but Boomers, despite being the original authors (back in the Sixties) of today’s complaint, are but slowly coming around. If Boomers were already solid, Sanders would win the nomination, and we could all get on with the real fight with corporate capital. Since Boomers aren’t fully onboard, Clinton may squeeze out a victory at the convention (maybe even in the fall), but the trend toward political revolution is irreversible.

    So, I’m waiting to see what I will do in the fall. We’re just at the beginning of something really big, with unforeseeable twists and turns ahead. Let’s ride it and see how it plays out.

    Thanks for listening. Best regards.

    • Ok, Steve, I don’t believe some of your premises-Bernie can win, HRC is almost as evil as Trump, Trump is not a facist, who cares, white supremacy, yes, he’s into that! (Plus this is your birthday so I’m sure you have better things to do than read this.) I was just listening to Jeremy Scahill on KPFA talking about Bernie’s support of Bill Clinton’s blockade of Iran, the beginning of the war against that country. He also endorses the drone war and the kill list according to Scahill. Nevertheless his mild comments about Israel were a real break with the old neocon line and very valuable in their own right.
      On the other hand, Bernie would not sanction talk of reparations any more than HRC which means he still doesn’t get the importance or depth of white supremacy to determine this country’s answer to everything. However, I do believe that he is trying and is supported by the young who do get it.
      It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which Bernie gets the nomination so that is where I am now, focusing on the fall while I support and flyer with my club, the Wellstone Club, for Bernie in the primary whose politics are much more attuned to the needs of the majority of Americans.
      I’d like to be as magnanimous as you about foreign policy though I don’t know how Bernie would protect the children of Syria but I am first and foremost a mom. I could not countenance a one party rule of this country, with the Congress, the statehouses, the presidency AND the Supreme Court in the hands of the Republicans. I won’t sacrifice my kids’ present needs for some future revolution. I don’t blame the Boomers most of whom were never engaged in radical politics, or the Gen Xers, most of whom are engaged in careerism, or the Millennials who give me the most hope, although like Boomers, only a percentage are engaged thoroughly.
      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again then won’t spend more time on this, I don’t have a hero in this race. I don’t for a minute believe that my advocacy of a national figure makes that much of a difference compared to my advocacy in my hometown and that is hard enough. It is always fun to expound on these things but rarely as useful as struggling on the day-to-day, rough and tumble of local politics. If more folks would get engaged on the ground where they live, we’d make the change we want to see in the future. The Republicans already learned this lesson, when will we?

  8. OK. I agree. Let’s let it play out and re-engage when events on the ground warrant.

  9. Yes and Happy Birthday!

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