Now that Clinton is officially in the race, progressives need to steer her further to the left
If you’re a progressive like myself, you probably weren’t that moved yesterday when Hillary Clinton announced her second run for president. She’s a good politician from a well-known family, and she has a better chance than most of defeating any Republican opponent. But let’s be honest, she isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of a progressive candidate.
From what I can tell so far, Hillary Clinton is planning to run the same type of campaign as Obama did in 2012. She will frame the choice for voters as between Democrats who will focus on the middle class and Republicans who will continue to protect the wealthy. Why not, it’s a proven winning formula.
However, there are significant matters left over from Obama’s presidency that will require her full attention. Issues she may not bring up during her campaign unless she’s forced to by another democratic rival. These are issues that establishment politicians have a hard time taking a stand on because of a slight political risk.
Hillary has a lot of supporters, but if she wants to go all the way this time, she’ll need to listen to progressives as much as Republicans cater to the Tea Party. Let’s face it, a Clinton without a progressive agenda is just another Republican. If she want’s people like us to vote for her, or vote at all, she’ll have to earn it.
Scale Back America’s Role in the Middle East
We all know by now that during her stint as a senator, Hillary Clinton voted in favor of going to war with Iraq. A major foreign policy blunder. The bad news is she can’t really take it back and unfortunately for her, liberals have pretty good memories.
What Hillary needs to do is repair the damage by promising to bring the troops home. She needs to realize and convince the American public that we’re outsiders fighting in the middle of a brutal Islamic civil war.
It is not always in America’s interest to keep taking sides. When you need to choose between the two ultra conservative Islamic theocracies of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the United States only loses by getting involved.
Getting Money out of Politics
This one should be a no brainer for any candidate. 61% of Americans want to see money out of politics. Still, time will tell if Hillary or anyone else bothers to bring up this most important of issues. Campaign finance reform is not talked about nearly enough.
Clinton may bring it up in her campaign if, and only if, her opponent is a staunch foe of new campaign finance regulations, like Mitch McConnell. I fear this is one subject that all parties will remain silent about throughout.
This one is the big question. On one hand, we all know how close Hillary was to her donors on Wall Street. She is also married to the man largely responsible for deregulating the banks in the first place. On the other hand, Hillary and Democrats have another winning issue.
Regulating financial services and products is seen as either “important” or “very important” by more than 90 percent of American voters. Tighter financial regulations are not only needed, they are very popular.
If Clinton wins the Democratic Primary, it is possible she’ll promote this issue on the presidential campaign trail, particularly if she finds herself falling behind in the polls. It is a winning strategy after all. Whether or not she actually does something about it if she were to win the White House is another story.
Universal Health Care
HA! This most important of progressive policies won’t be mentioned once. Quite frankly it will be curious to see at what length Hillary Clinton will go to defend the ACA. And therein lies the problem. She’ll be spending so much time defending Obama’s signature healthcare bill that little time will be reserved for discussing how to improve it.
Tougher Gun Laws
Before day one, the NRA was already pumping out the fear. According to Wayne LaPierre, “Hillary Rodham Clinton will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair.” I guess that’s a subtle way of saying she’s coming for everyone’s guns. If only that were true.
The fact is, this is another winning issue that Democrats refuse to campaign on. Hillary won’t be any different. It doesn’t matter that 89% of American support universal background checks, 69 percent support banning the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons; 68 percent support banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines. In Hillary’s mind, the subject will still be too hot to handle.
It is important that progressives (better still, progressive candidates) challenge her and get her to talk about these issues, among others. Not just so she clarifies her position on them, but so we can hold her responsible should she follow in her husband’s footsteps down 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.