What Makes Hillary Clinton A Democrat?
Thursday evening at the Las Vegas town hall, Nevada Democrats boo-ed Hillary Clinton when she accused Bernie Sanders of not really being a Democrat (video above). That's an interesting statement and it depends what you mean by "a Democrat." On one level she's correct. Bernie is an independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party. He founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was elected its first chairman. When the Democratic Party used to run candidates against him, they were also right-of-center establishment candidates who, like Hillary, were, at best, better than Republicans on most issues. When she talks about being a Democrat, she isn't talking about embracing a set of values and principles; she's talking about being a member of a fairly arbitrary professional, career-oriented team of insiders with a tent that is so huge and flexible that it encompasses anything and everything, rendering the tarnished party brand increasingly meaningless. According to the latest Gallup survey, only 30% of voters self-identify as "Democrats" (in the Hillary sense of the word)-- the exact same number who identify as Republicans. 37% of voters self-identify as independents and the majority of those independents embrace progressive values.
Bernie was born in 1941 and Hillary was born in 1947, so neither was alive when President Franklin Roosevelt made his famous "I welcome their hatred" speech, referring to Wall Street banksters, at Madison Square Garden in 1936. "We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace-- business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering," he told the assembled Democrats. "They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-- and I welcome their hatred."
Bernie was born into a family in working class Brooklyn on the left of the political spectrum. FDR's speech was part of his formative natural environment. A decade after it was made, Hillary was born into a conservative Republican family and her formative natural environment abhored every word Roosevelt spoke. In 1960, as a young teen, she worked on the Richard Nixon campaign and in 1964, age 17, she worked for the Barry Goldwater campaign. Goldwater was the Ted Cruz of his day; she wasn't volunteering to work for a John Kasich or a Jeb Bush. She has admitted that Barry Goldwater's radical Conscience of a Conservative was politically formative in her political development. The following year she went to an uber-elite 7 Sisters college, Wellesley, and served as president of the Young Republicans. She described herself as "a mind conservative and a heart liberal" and she eschewed the radicalism of the '60s, preferring, she has said, to work within the system. In 1968-- aged 21-- she was working for Nelson Rockefeller's election when she finally noticed her political party was a den of racists and that was the year that she finally left the Republican Party. The inherent conservatism she got from her family and her environment is as strong as ever and FDR's "we know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob" doesn't ring the same bells for her that it rings for people who grew up as Democrats and whose DNA includes the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt values. Her instincts are conservative and so is her record and if her stated positions seem progressive in 2016, it's because she's running a Democratic primary against Bernie Sanders. Nothing she says rings even slightly believable.
Like Arizona Blue Dog Kyrsten Sinema, she may be instinctively progressive on women's issues but she's instinctively conservative on everything else. She has been "forced" to change her positions-- if not her mind-- on virtually every single issue important to Democratic voters-- but when she finally gets around to it, it has taken years and it's only when the progressive positions are watered down and absolutely politically safe. She is the opposite of a leader; she's a follower. She's the opposite of an agent of change. She's a linchpin of the Establishment and a protector of the status quo. She is the wrong candidate for the Democratic Party at a time when the people of this country have made it completely clear they are repulsed by the establishment. If she is the nominee, the outcome will be a President Herr Trumpf. This morning a new poll shows Bernie pulling ahead of Hillary in Colorado, where Democrats caucus in just over a week. He now leads her 49-43%. In the last polling-- which was more a name recognition poll-- she lead by 28 points. She can still be stopped. She must be, for the sake of the country.