fresh voices from the front lines of change







A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton did a well-staged, two-day swing through Iowa, meeting with small groups of people and some media along the way.

Afterwards she said we have some great ideas for a better future. She’s right about that, and she’s right that this campaign — and every piece of our political system, from the courthouse to the White House — should be about everyday people.

But this campaign is also about Clinton and whether she’ll stand with us or cozy up to the corporate class. She’s said “the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top” — but she neglects to mention that many of her friends and big-money donors were the ones who stacked it.

When push comes to shove, will Clinton merely reshuffle the deck and make our lives just a little less worse? Or will she stand with everyday people and go toe-to-toe with the corporate and political elite to fundamentally rewrite the rules of the game?

Lots of people are wondering, for good reason.

Iowa CCI Action Fund members and our friends at National People’s Action Campaign have held dozens of meetings with tens of thousands of people across the country the past two years. Here are some big-deal issues we’ve been hearing about that Clinton must tackle head-on if she wants to stand with everyday people.

Trade: Right now, President Barack Obama is pushing hard for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal — negotiated behind closed doors with giant corporations — that would lower wages and working standards and weaken food safety and environmental protections worldwide. It’s a bad deal for everyday people, which is why the president is seeking “Fast Track” authority to ram this trade deal through Congress with no amendments and no discussion by those we send to D.C. to represent we the people.

TPP would create a race to the bottom and hurt working folks from Cedar Rapids to Singapore, while padding corporate profits. Does Clinton oppose the TPP and Fast Track? And will she outline a trade policy that puts workers, family farmers, consumers and our environment before corporate profits?

Water and Our Planet: Recent events in Des Moines, California, and elsewhere have demonstrated, again, that we’re in a clean water crisis. Big ag and corporate polluters have abused our natural resources and are denying everyday people access to safe drinking water under the ruse of “feeding the world” and “getting rid of burdensome regulations.” Will Clinton stand up to corporate greed that ravishes our planet, and assert that clean water is a fundamental human right? Will she take on the oil industry, speak forcefully on climate change and push for locally controlled and managed wind and solar energy?

Income and Taxes: Income inequality is rampant. Reversing it will take bold leadership. Clinton says that workers aren’t seeing the reward of hard work and productivity in their paychecks, but does she stand with low-wage workers —here and across the country — who want to raise the minimum wage in a meaningful way through the “Fight for $15” movement?

Clinton also acknowledges the insane wealth of corporate CEOs and hedge-fund managers, but does she support a Robin Hood Tax on high-frequency financial transactions that would provide stability to the markets and raise much needed revenue to invest in our aging infrastructure? And will she push for higher taxes, in general, on the super-wealthy?

Clinton — and all candidates who want our vote — must move beyond generalities to address these and other critical issues. Talk is cheap.

We want — and need —bold action that puts “people and our planet first.”

Originally posted in The Des Moines Register.

HUGH ESPEY is executive director of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund. Contact:

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