Friday, May 06, 2016

How Far To The Right Will Hillary Pivot?


Trump has raised the prospect of trying to entice some Bernie voters who feel no allegiance to a corrupted and corporatized Democratic Party. The strategy makes sense on paper and Trump has even made some gestures in their direction, talking vaguely to Wolf Blitzer, for example about raising the minimum wage. And while there may be the tiniest handful of ill-informed Bernie supporters who gravitate towards Trump, I'd guess that for every Bernie supporter he gets, Jill Stein will get 10. Hillary will probably get the most and some will simply stay home or just vote in down-ticket races. Bernie voters' hatred of racism, sexism, xenophobia and ritualized ignorance will keep any significant numbers-- regardless of how much they detest the Clinton Machine-- from voting for Trump, even if Trump runs to the left of her on some significant issues. But, what if her strategy is, as some claim, to run to the right, a place the former Goldwater Girl's natural instincts would bring her anyway? Ryan Cooper, in fact, claimed yesterday she's falling precisely into that old school post-primary trap.

She's claimed all through the primary that she's "evolved" on core progressive issues that have found her over the years on the same side as Republicans. She was an anti-marriage equality crusader, a corporate trade agreement fanatic, bad on the minimum wage, an outspoken apologist for Wall Street criminality, a proponent of the Keystone XL Pipeline and on the wrong side of almost every issue that motivates millions of progressives. But intense, concentrated public pressure from Bernie has at least gotten her to mouth some concessions towards what most Democrats care about. I'm not certain how many people believe a word of it-- I don't-- but many Democrats are relieved she's giving them cover to vote for her. Cooper writes she may be about to blunder into losing whatever good-will she's created with those concessions by running to the right in the hopes of wooing anti-Trump Republicans.

First, it's unnecessary to win. The most well-tested electoral strategy for a Democrat would be to simply reassemble the Obama coalition of young people, white college-educated liberals, and minorities that delivered the presidency in 2008 and 2012. Indeed, as Jamelle Bouie points out, that coalition has only grown over the last four years-- and given Trump's staggering unpopularity among all those groups, it should be fairly easy to reassemble. Latinos in particular are chomping at the bit to vote against Trump; his deranged anti-immigrant xenophobia is sparking mass registration drives all over the country.

Second, Clinton should be more worried about her left flank. She has generally won minority populations, especially African-Americans, but Sanders has dominated among young people, and she needs those voters. This primary has had big ideological and policy differences, and while Democrats generally like Clinton, she clearly isn't the first choice of a big fraction of the party. Any sop to conservatives would risk bleeding left-wing voters who are already suspicious of her fairly conservative domestic record and hawkish foreign policy.

It would also, you know, be morally wrong to advance bad conservative ideas if it can possibly be avoided. Neocon elites are probably the likeliest faction to defect to Clinton, and what they'd want is blood-curdling aggressiveness overseas and Benjamin Netanyahu in charge of Middle East policy. That would be bad.

Finally, Clinton probably won't be able to get meaningful numbers of Republican defectors. She is absolutely loathed among the Republican base and has been for years and years. Reuters says 84 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Clinton, CNN has them at 85 percent. While she might get a few prominent neocons like Max Boot or Robert Kagan, they won't bring anyone over with them. And those few aside, the vast majority of the party will accommodate themselves to Trump eventually. It's happening already.

Besides, even if lots more conservatives came out for Clinton, the entire story of the GOP primary has been Republican elites completely losing control over the party. If they couldn't get conservatives to vote for Jeb Bush, there's little chance they'll get them to vote for someone they dislike much more than him.

Still, I doubt Clinton will be swayed by any of these arguments. Her substantive views on foreign policy at least are already pretty close to neocon ones-- witness her god-awful speech before AIPAC-- and the Clintons have a long history of rightward triangulation. She won this primary while defending military intervention, bashing social insurance, and invoking right-wing caricatures of Sanders as a tax-and-spend liberal. Maybe she'll even dust off her husband's old plan to privatize Social Security!

But all else aside, Clinton has still drawn the most unpopular general election opponent since the advent of modern polling, and so will be the heavy favorite almost regardless of what she says. We can only hope she doesn't abuse that power.
What ever she does, it's absolutely crucial for progressive voters to do whatever they can to help elect progressive candidates to the House and Senate. Some of the best places to invest resources are Grayson's Florida Senate race and the outstanding congressional primary campaigns being waged by Alex Law in South Jersey, Eric Kingson in Syracuse, Zephyr Teachout in the Hudson Valley/Catskills, Tim Canova in South Florida, Pramila Jayapal in Seattle, Dave McTeague in western Oregon, Lou Vince in Santa Clarita, Pat Murphy in northeast Iowa and DuWayne Gregory on the South Shore of Long Island. And you'll find them all on the same page... just click the thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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At 7:24 AM, Blogger Roger said...

I'm surprised that you're saying turning the ME over to Netanyahu is something that would attract neocon voters to her. She's already done that in her speech at AIPAC. She essentially groveled to Likud and promised to invite Bibi to the White House on Inauguration Day. Oh, and to support the illegal settlements, too.

At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillary will move to the right of even the Tea Baggers if it means she has a shot at winning the presidency.


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