Protesting the pro-fracker in Ohio

May 9, 2016

Ryan Powers explains why a small group of Ohio activists confronted Hillary Clinton.

TWENTY PEOPLE gathered to protest Hillary Clinton's campaign stop in Athens, Ohio, on May 3.

Though small, the protest showed the importance of building an alternative to the hopeless establishment politics that Clinton represents--and of taking on politicians who serve Wall Street rather than ordinary people.

Athens County's injection wells currently produce millions of barrels of fracking waste per year. Athens is also the poorest county in Ohio. So we are left asking: Who benefits from this environmental carelessness?

Follow the money: Clinton takes money from several fracking lobbyists. According to Greenpeace USA, Clinton campaign contributors include lobbyists from Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, American Natural Gas Association and WPX Energy, all of which are pro-fracking lobby groups.

Clinton has pledged to not ban fracking, and she promoted fracking all over the world in her role as secretary of state under Barack Obama. When the political leaders of the nation not only fail to fight for us, but actively fight against our interests, the path becomes clear: We must fight for ourselves.

Protesters confront Hillary Clinton in Athens, Ohio
Protesters confront Hillary Clinton in Athens, Ohio (ISO Athens)

Now that Donald Trump is the all-but-guaranteed Republican presidential nominee, the two-party stranglehold is about to get tighter. Already, progressives in Athens are calling on activists to support Clinton as the "lesser evil" to stop Trump. Anyone who dares to call for a break from the status quo and the creation of an alternative is accused of supporting Trump.

The problem is this: Pledging unconditional support to the same candidate who supports rich fracking companies at the expense of Athens County won't stop Trump. Such support only emboldens the Trumps and Clintons of the world to move further to the right.

In addition to those protesting Clinton because of her pro-corporate agenda, Clinton's stop in Athens also drew a protest of several dozen coal miners, who criticized comments she had made about wanting to put coal companies "out of business" as president. Clinton was forced to walk her comments back, saying she "misspoke."

But in addition to continuing to promote fracking, Clinton has provided few details on how her administration would meet her stated goal of generating enough clean renewable energy to power every U.S. home within 10 years of taking office--especially when it comes to creating green jobs or helping workers transition from environmentally destructive or struggling industries like coal.

Clinton's stop in Athens is a reminder of how far to the right U.S. politics has shifted--and why there's a crying need to rebuild the left through building grassroots movements.

Without independent action, we will continually get "lesser evil" Democrats such as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Most of the people who vote for such candidates want change, but they usually get more of the status quo--fracking, climate change, low wages, racism, sexism and student debt.

In the case of Bill Clinton, for example, the "man from Hope" funneled billions during his presidency into strengthening racist policing practices and laws so he could show that he was "tough on crime." He also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, which cost jobs in the U.S. and destroyed the livelihoods of many more Mexican workers and farmers--but was a boon to the profits of U.S. corporations.

Hillary Clinton's campaign is running on the politics of low expectations, but fighting together for change can be the start of building the politics of a better world. Corporate America has two parties of its own. It's time we start fighting for politics that represent our interests.

Further Reading

From the archives