July 30, 2016
After the Conventions
by Robert Kropp
While it seems implausible that investors concerned with environmental and social justice will vote
for Donald Trump, some of the positions take by Hillary Clinton during her years of public service
Amid the bombast and outright demagoguery of last week's Republican National Convention, one
surprising addition to the party's platform stood out: its apparent support for reinstating the
Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
The Glass-Steagall Act prevented commercial banks from
acting as investment banks as well. It was repealed by President Clinton and a Republican Congress
in 1999. its repeal allowed for mergers in the financial industry that led a consolidation in which
the major banks became too big to fail.
Elsewhere, although Republican presidential
candidate Donald Trump spoke out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the writers of the
platform decided to remove all references to it, because “we have some senators who are running
across the country that were in support of it at one time,” a Republican delegate was quoted by Politico
Otherwise, the platform—as well as the ugly rhetoric persistently uttered by the
party's candidate—leave little if anything for sustainable investors to support. Even as the
climate crisis becomes a matter increasingly impacting the lives of more and more global citizens,
the party persists in maintaining the fiction of climate denial. The frankly immoral growth of
wealth inequality will be ignored, with the nominal leader of the party too busy celebrating some
illusion of superiority on the basis of largely inherited wealth. And his rhetoric around refugees
and immigration in general is simply too repugnant for a global citizen to consider.
party platform unveiled at this week's Democratic convention takes a markedly different approach to
the issue of climate change. “Climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers and
defeatists in Congress to start listening to science,” the platform states; and, as sustainable
investors have been arguing for years, “Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between
protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs.”
Also, with the federal minimum wage
languishing at a mere $7.25, Democrats call for an increase of it to $15; a standard first set
forth during the primary campaign by Senator Bernie Sanders, and one to which presidential nominee
Hillary Clinton was slow in coming around. And during the hard-fought Democratic primaries, Clinton
reversed her previous position on TPP and came out against it; incidentally, she was a champion of
the treaty while serving as Secretary of State.
However, when the platform was drawn up,
efforts by Sanders delegates to include opposition to TPP were blocked, ostensibly due to the fact
that it is supported by President Obama.
Both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns agreed on
platform language calling for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall; because of Clinton's
historically cozy relationship with Wall Street banks, successful reinstatement will at least
temper concerns that she will fail to rein in the excesses that brought down the global economy in
Of course, sustainable investors and others possessing a global sense of social
justice will be watching the oft-repeated observations about Clinton's positions on global
conflict. From her vote as Senator in favor of the Iraq invasion to her enthusiastic support for
regime change in a number of countries, the charge has been made that she “never met a war she
didn't like.” But the importance of the issue transcends mere anecdote, and representations of her
positions can be read at On the Issues.
Because of the surprising strength of the candidacy of Sanders, Clinton tacked to the left on
many issues—such as TPP, for example—during the primary season. Many of the positions were
subsequently captured in the party's platform. But it is plausible to assume that like most
Democratic candidates before her, Clinton will assume the support of the left and tack back to the
right in order to pick off moderate Republicans appalled at a Trump candidacy. Particularly in the
areas of global conflict and wealth inequality, proponents of social justice will do well to keep
her stated positions during the primaries in mind, and ensure that her Presidency does not become
the neoliberal platform that leftists fear.
Unless voters are willing to risk their votes
on a third-party candidate in an election that could be closely contested, the choice seems
obvious. Despite her flaws, Clinton has the experience to be President. Her opponent is a disaster.