Monday, May 18, 2015

WAPO: Hillary "Running as the most liberal Democratic presidential front-runner in decades"

Guest post by Lysis

From today's Washington Post:
Hillary Rodham Clinton is running as the most liberal Democratic presidential front-runner in decades, with positions on issues from gay marriage to immigration that would, in past elections, have put her at her party’s precarious left edge.
The moves are part of a strategic conclusion by Clinton’s emerging campaign: that it can harness the same kind of young and diverse coalition as Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012, bolstered by even stronger appeal among women.
Her approach — outlined in interviews with aides and advisers — is a bet that social and demographic shifts mean that no left-leaning position Clinton takes now would be likely to hurt her in making her case to moderate and independent voters in the general election next year.
This is a markedly different approach from her cautious 2008 campaign, and according to her current staff, reflects her belief that the more progressive positions are also the more practical solutions:
The campaign’s overall calculus relies on a mix of polling — including both internal and public surveys — internal focus groups and what advisers described as gut feelings about the national mood. It also reflects what Clinton backers say are her firmly held personal convictions and her pragmatism.
“Her approach to this really is not trying to take a ruler out and measure where she wants to be on some ideological scale,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said. “It’s to dive deeply into the problems facing the American people and American families. She’s a proud wonk, and she looks at policy from that perspective.”
“People often talk about the electorate moving left,” said Clinton senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan. “I think it’s more that the electorate is just getting more practical. For Hillary Clinton, that matches her evidence-based approach. The arguments that persuade her are evidence-based and progressive.”
There are still some unanswered questions, most specifically in the areas of trade and foreign policy, where she will still need to prove her progressive bona fides:
Senior campaign officials acknowledged that trade is a divisive and fraught issue for Democrats and for her. Clinton’s past support for the Pacific free-trade pact makes her current silence awkward at best, but her advisers are gambling that the issue won’t leave an enduring rift within the party...
“If Clinton and other candidates are not seen as standing with Warren on the [Trans-Pacific Partnership] trade deal and a number of other economic issues critical to working families, it could create an even greater sense of urgency” to get Warren into the race, said Gary Ritterstein, an adviser to the support group Ready for Warren.
But when Republicans are reduced to trying to convince the left that our front-runner isn't liberal enough, it's a clear sign that the country's national mood has moved in favor of progressives:
“Clinton’s already moved her position leftward on numerous hot button issues to the base, including immigration, gay marriage, Wall Street and criminal justice reforms,” conservative America Rising PAC director Colin Reed wrote in a position paper Friday.
“Clinton’s moves reinforce all her worst attributes as a candidate and hurt her image among voters of all stripes,” Reed said. “Progressive voters know that she’s not truly one of them,” while swing voters “see a desperate politician staking out far-left positions that are outside of the mainstream of most Americans.”
Clinton is gambling that those far-left positions are really the new center in American politics, and coupled with demographic changes in the electorate, she'll have more than enough voters to push her well past the finish line.

Crossposted at Daily Kos

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