In a relentless campaign to make sure no Latino community in the United States is left un-Hispandered to, last Friday Hillary Clinton stopped in El Barrio in New York and won a game of dominoes — sort of.
As anyone who’s seen the video and played a game knows, “La Hillary” claimed victory with an illegal move, placing the 3-side of her last tile on a 3-side that was out of play. In a piece yesterday, Marlena Fitzpatrick —one of my partners in prose and, as it turns out, a dominó dominatrix— explains all that was wrong with Hillary’s winning technique:
From the 30-second clip, many rules are broken, just to let her win as capicú — which she clearly doesn’t.
Although I must recognize she probably isn’t aware of all the rules, the mere idea of pretending to win for the sake of a photo-op is degrading to the community and ladies like us, who took time to study the game and respect the rules. … The childlike ‘ooooh!’ choir by spectators and players alike is reminiscent of the condescending cheer men would erupt in whenever we laid a matching tile. For women like me, it’s about dominating the game and changing the gender bias of the sport. Earning a capicú takes skill, strategy, practice, mental endurance and cultural respect.
Hillary secured the capicú (along with the victory) by breaking all the rules, and with the help of accomplices willing to break said rules, too. But, then again, breaking the rules to achieve set objectives has been Hillary’s M.O. for quite a while. For Hillary, the end usually justifies the means.
One stark example of Hillary’s consequentialism is Honduras, where in 2009 the right-wing legislative and judicial branches of government conspired to remove the leftist president via a banishment executed by the Honduran military. Most of the Western Hemisphere, including the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, and the Caribbean Community, condemned the coup unequivocally and demanded the reinstatement of the deposed President Zelaya as a prerequisite for the impending presidential elections. Hillary, then the secretary of state, ignored the rest of the Americas and went about restoring order with the coup regime in power. As for the unconstitutional removal of a democratically elected head of state, Hillary laid out the extent of her concerns in her most recent memoir: “We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.” In Honduras, Hillary was willing to secure her coup —and her capicú— by any means she could get away with. And get away with it she did, to the detriment of a still green democracy as well as the loss of hundreds of lives.
Hillary wasn’t the sole author of the Honduran coup, of course. In fact, she may not have known it was going to happen—though the close ties between the U.S. State Department and the Honduran government, especially the Honduran military, make Hillary’s claims to ignorance unlikely. Still, there’s no denying that Hillary signed off on the coup, thus giving the coup regime the U.S. stamp of approval. And any action backed by the might of the United States becomes nearly as irrevocable as the laws of thermodynamics (unless your Cuba in 1961, or Venezuela in 2002). Hillary’s support for the coup regime in the months following Zelaya’s ouster not only kept the pipeline of military aid from Washington to Tegucigalpa flowing, it also sent a clear message to the rest of the hemisphere: the golpistas in Honduras may be SOBs, but they’re Hillary’s SOBs.
Now the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary finds herself in a new game of dominoes with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who’s built a mass movement behind his candidacy by appearing to be the impossible: a people’s politician. Bernie’s expressed desire for carrying out a “political revolution” —”a new New Deal” that would radically reform (another oxymoron) U.S. society and its economy, establishing economic rights that ensure every citizen has access to a quality, debt-free education and a job that pays a living wage, among other not so radical ideas— is run-of-the-mill throughout Latin America, where every election cycle promises the advent of at least one populist pretender to the highest office. Nonetheless, Bernie’s message has served him well, as he’s now in a dead heat in the polls with Hillary, the former heir apparent to President Obama.
Sanders has won eight of the last nine state primary contests, though you wouldn’t know it by the allotment of delegates. In Wyoming, for example, where Bernie beat Hillary by more than 10 points, the former first lady received 11 delegates to Bernie’s seven, owing to the state’s four superdelegates who’d previously pledged their votes for Hillary. The shadiness behind the Democratic Party’s nominating process hasn’t gone unnoticed by Sanders’ supporters, who rightly cry foul at the fact that their candidate was already 440-plus delegates in the hole long before the primary season opened in February. It’s safe to say that if and when Clinton wins tonight’s New York primary, there will be talk about her “comeback” and how she is closer to the nomination. Even Joe Scarborough, the co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and former Republican member of the House of Representatives, has blasted the blue team for what he calls a “rigged” system.
Again, such tactics are much too familiar for the peoples of Latin America. Whether it’s the coup regime in Honduras dismissing uncooperative judges, or Peru’s electoral tribunal disqualifying candidates who threatened the presidential bid of the spawn (and protégé) of a former dictator, or Haiti’s former pop-star president slapping together an election in the hopes of ensuring victory for his handpicked pop-star successor—the average Latin American voter has experienced only travesties of democracy.
Lest any reader complain that I’m being unfair in pinning all the faults of the Democratic Party squarely on Hillary’s shoulders (after all, it isn’t her party) I’ll point out that Hillary and her husband have been prominent members of the party establishment since the nineties, having orchestrated its rightward shift in the late 80s. Plus the party’s chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is widely known to be a close ally of Mrs. Clinton. Predictably, the relationship between the two ladies has led to a few irregularities in this year’s nominating process, as Congresswoman Schultz uses nearly every resource at the party’s disposal to secure her gal the nomination in July. On the bogus business of superdelegates, Schultz explained their allotment as a way of making sure Democratic voters don’t nominate the wrong Democratic candidate. Thus spoke the establishment—firmly in Hillary’s favor.
And thus Hillary and her accomplices are in the midst of carrying out yet another coup, only this time against the voters. Democracy is usually a roll of the die, as matters are left to the will and whim of the people. But Hillary has a record of not wanting to leave political issues to chance, or the voters.
She’s going to get her capicú.
No matter what.
Hector Luis Alamo is a Chicago-based writer and journalist. You can connect with him @HectorLuisAlamo.