There’s a widely accepted assumption in the media that Hillary Clinton has to move left in order to consolidate her claim to the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination. She gave credence to that assumption recently when she burbled fulsome praise for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, probably he most threatening potential rival on the left, and then made some remark about corporations not being responsible for their success.
However, while the left wing of the Democratic Party was her natural home in her early days of Saul Alinsky, Vietnam and Watergate, her most sincere and winning base now is the center of her party. She will get most of the feminist vote, no matter what. Even another woman, like Warren, doesn’t have her unbreakable record.
Plus–labor. The unions are very frustrated with Obama and the way Republicans like Gov. Scott Walker have trounced public employee unions in the states, while the Obama Administration sides with environmentalists on major energy and other economic projects. Unions can make a huge difference in Democratic primaries.
She also will inherit the Obama base among blacks, largely because she had it to begin with in early 2008, until Barrack became a likely winner. She doesn’t need to move left to get their support. Elizabeth Warren or any other likely primary foe (including Joe Biden) lacks her appeal.
And she has huge support on Wall Street, where she is known as the “candidate from Goldman Sachs.” The immense power of Wall Street in the Democratic Party is slowly dawning on the middle class and working people generally (how times change!). Crony capitalism is a certain theme for Republicans. But until the summer of 2016, Clinton could benefit from the backing of Wall Street and Hollywood–and swamp her opponents in fundraising.
Meanwhile, the Republicans have damaged the Democratic brand in many states–such as Appalachia and much of the Middle West–by pro-growth economic policies and hostility to Obama’s hostility to energy development. So Democrats in those states will be looking for someone who can carry the ticket–and it won’t be Elizabeth Warren.
A “Clinton Democrat”, therefore, might well try to “triangulate” (in the old phrase) by advocating for pro-energy policies at the same time as she advocated for “real progress” on alternative fuels. She could argue persuasively (and please her big business/Wall Street friends) by calling for more infrastructure investments–roads and bridges, etc. Indeed, she could please the “builders” and the environmentalists at the same time by calling for a gas tax increase tied exclusively to transportation’s unmet needs. She could call for a buildup of the military, even while pledging to keep the country out of “new wars.”
I don’t know if this platform would win in a final election, but it would have a better chance than the left-ward program she is being urged to adopt.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Frank Plitt