How Far To The Right Will Hillary Pivot?
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.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:
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.