Hillary Clinton and My Visa Bill

A longer version of this article appeared previously on the Huffington Post.

I just got my Visa bill for my final election donations -- all those click-and-donate appeals in my email box and on the Web. I gave more than I thought I had, more than I'd intended to spend, and more than I'd ever given before. You make enough $25 to $50 contributions, and soon you're talking real money, a tenth of my annual income.

But I feel just fine about my giving -- doing my part to help Democrats in close races, even if they ultimately went the other way. However, what doesn't please me, in fact disturbs me immensely, is discovering that Hillary Clinton raised $52 million dollars for her Senate campaign and allied leadership PAC, HILLPAC. She spent $36 million of it on a race that she could have won staying home in her pajamas, not spending a dime. Now she's sitting on a $13.5-million-dollar war chest, which she'll roll over to her presidential campaign.

I know political money is hard to raise, particularly with the new contribution limits, and that some of Hillary's spending went to build a grassroots donors' list that she'll tap in the future. But according to the wonderful site of the Center for Responsive Politics, the entire Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised only $107 million, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign $103 million. Hillary spent a third as much as either of these, more than any candidate in America, for a race that was never in doubt. She did distribute $2.5 million to various Democratic institutions and candidates, but imagine if she'd transferred $20 million into the dozen Congressional campaigns that Democrats lost by margins as close as a few hundred votes. Or into Harold Ford's Senatorial campaign, to close the gap between the $10 million spent by Ford and the $15 million that Republican Bob Corker spent.

Hindsight's always easy, but by late summer it was clear that the Democrats had a huge opportunity and were scrambling for the funds to respond to it. A few more ads would almost certainly have tipped the balance for some of the under-funded candidates who came heartbreakingly close. That's why so many of us were digging deep to contribute, and then digging deeper, even when it hurt. Evidently Hillary had other priorities.

When Bill Clinton first surfaced as a leading Presidential contender, I asked a mutual friend what he thought. "He's smart," said my friend. "He reads good books. He wants to do the right thing." Then he paused and said, "But he won't go to the mat for anything except his own political future." To me, that was Bill's core flaw (even more than his pursuit of Monica Lewinsky). Hillary seems to share Bill's hunger for power. You can always rationalize dubious choices by the good you'll do when you gain just a little more clout, and I'm sure she truly believes her candidacy will benefit the United States. But she had a chance to make a major difference in this critical election -- and she blew it.

Hillary is far from the only Democrat vulnerable to the charge of hoarding scarce resources: As of mid-October, John Kerry with $13.8 million in his campaign account, and Evan Bayh had $10.6 million. But Kerry transferred over $3.5 million to Democratic candidates and used his networks to raise almost $10 million more. Between his inept 2004 campaign and the damage done by his foot-in-the-mouth military joke-telling, I don't want him as a Presidential candidate; but compared to what Hillary transferred from five times the resources, Kerry at least dug deeper to help. I have even more respect for potential contenders like John Edwards and Wesley Clark, who campaigned throughout the country to support Democratic candidates, but did relatively little fundraising for their own campaign committees and PACs, mostly to maintain basic infrastructure. Their top priority was to help other Democrats to win this 2006 election

I'm sure Hillary would say she did all she could, and then some, and she definitely lent major star power to the campaigns and fundraising efforts of many worthy candidates. But I think about all the ordinary citizens who gave more time and money than anyone would have expected and as a result made a critical difference. In comparison, Hillary falls short. The money she spent may have gained her a few extra points of electoral margin in a race she won by 36 points, and buttressed her already massive frontrunner status. But it did nothing to increase the Democratic victory. Those of us at the grassroots aren't going to stop volunteering and donating merely because some of our most prominent political leaders fall short. But it's a measure of their character that I hope we'll remember when the Presidential primaries begin.
ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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