Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Real Liberal

Hillary ClintonMatt Yglesias reminds us of something important, Hillary Clinton Has Always Been to Obama’s Left on Economics. This is part of Clinton’s branding campaign. And I have always accepted this. One of the narratives to come out of Bill Clinton’s presidential tenure that I think is actually true is that Hillary was the more liberal of the two. Of course, it was generally presented as, “Bill Clinton is extremely liberal but Hillary is a radical.” Neither of those statements were true, but I think they got the ordering right. I don’t think that Hillary Clinton would ever have ended welfare as we know it.

Now I understand that Hillary has always come off as something of a war hawk. But is she any worse than her husband or Barack Obama or George W Bush? More to the point, could she possibly be as bad as the Republicans running for president? The only candidate for whom a case could be made would be Rand Paul. And he has shown himself to be easily pushed towards a more arrogant and belligerent stance. And let’s not forget that George W Bush ran on an isolationist policy — he wasn’t going to get involved in any “nation building.”

But the truth is that I don’t care. Regardless of what presidential candidates say about foreign affairs and the national security state, the moment they get into office, all the generals and spooks take the new presidents aside and explain that if they don’t continue on with business as usual, there will be a terrorist attack and the president will be blamed. I’m not sure if this is done out of actual concern or in a coercive way, “Nice country you got here; it’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.” But the end result is the same.

None of this really matters to me. I am liberal right down the line, but the truth is that without economic justice, pretty much everything else is worthless. Racism wouldn’t have a tenth of its power if the nation had relative economic equality. Racism is fed by rich people convincing poor white people that their problems are due to poor black people. That doesn’t mean that I don’t fight against racism — including my own — but it does mean that I am focused on economic issues. If there were actual populists in this country — economically liberal and socially conservative — I might have some trouble knowing who to vote for. But as it is, the people who are terrible on social issues are also terrible on economic issues. When it comes to the Democrats, they tend to be good on social issues and okay on economic issues.

Yglesias noted:

The truth, however, is that on the kind of pocketbook issues Clinton spent most of yesterday’s speech discussing, she’s always been on the left wing of the Democratic Party. She’s been in the public eye far too long to have avoided inconsistencies over the years. But in positional terms, somewhat to the left of Obama — or Bill Clinton — on economics is where she’s been this whole time.

Yglesias went on to note that Clinton ran to Obama’s left on economic issues in 2008 and that she was the head of the leftist wing in the Bill Clinton White House. None of this makes me want to abandon my support for Bernie Sanders. I was just going over his page at On the Issue, and there is remarkably little that I disagree with. But the bottom line is that Hillary Clinton is a perfectly acceptable Democrat. And she has potential to be a great president. People should stop saying that she’s just pretending to be liberal to get the nomination. She really is a liberal.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

7 thoughts on “Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Real Liberal

  1. People should stop saying that she’s just pretending to be liberal to get the nomination.

    In 2008, she not only didn’t pretend to be a liberal, she actively ran away from the term. I remember, in one of the debates, she was asked if she was a Liberal and she answered to the effect, “I call myself a Progressive.” She wouldn’t even say the word “liberal”, which the Republicans had successfully made a 4-letter word by then. (I was also annoyed that none of the Democratic candidates would mention President Bush by name, preferring instead to simply call him “the current administration”.)

    Back in the 1990s, I admired her, but in the 2000s and beyond, not so much. I’ll vote for her, but I was surprised when I realized that the Democrats don’t seem to have a deep bench of candidates at all. Sure, Bernie Sanders is great and Elizabeth Warren (if she were running) would be great, but I don’t see them or O’Malley or any other Democrat as being viable candidates.

    • That was the way then. It has only been in the last five years that the word “liberal” has made a comeback. Until then, it was all “progressive.” There’s no doubt that Clinton is a politician. I’ve always felt that her vote for the Iraq War was totally political and that she didn’t believe in it.

      I don’t accept that the Democrats don’t have a deep bench. There are enormous numbers of people who just won’t run because they know this is Clinton’s year. Regardless, it isn’t like the GOP has a deep bench. What do they have? Jeb Bush who hasn’t been in office in forever and who has a family problem? Scott Walker who is hugely unpopular in his own state and who wouldn’t win his own state if he gets the nomination? Marco Rubio? I just don’t see much in terms of accomplishments from any of them. The Democrats also have Senators and governors who haven’t particularly distinguished themselves. As for viability: pretty much no one is viable until they start running. I certainly think that Al Franken would be a viable candidate if he ran. So would Joe Biden for that matter. The reason there are so many Republicans running is because there really aren’t any differences between them. So why not Bobby Jindal? He’s as good as Bush or Walker or Rubio. Not one of them has a major policy disagreement.

      • I’m kinda shocked Biden isn’t running. Maybe he has enough integrity not to ask for donor money when there’s pretty much no chance he’d get the nomination.

        Franken seems just too grounded for the kind of ego it takes to imagine oneself as Leader Of The Biggest Military In History. You kinda need several screws loose in your brain to wanna be President. I very much admire much of what Lincoln and FDR did, but they were slightly maniacs in a way.

        • I think Biden would run if it weren’t for Hillary Clinton. I don’t know what Franken thinks. He may be happy where he is. I do agree that you have to have a screw loose to want to be president. Hard to say.

      • Senator Franken put the kibosh on his run by having that book Why Not Me

        And if you don’t have a built in huge name ID, it requires a great deal of catching fire-a big reason that Sanders caught on like he did is there is a lot of people in the Democratic Party who don’t want Clinton for this reason or that and they don’t like politicians who focus group.

        As for being nuts to run-yes, you do have to be slightly mad. This is an insanely difficult country to government with how many different opinions we have just on what a car costs (I did a case on that recently.) So if we agree on anything is a miracle.

        • I think it is more that all the big players decided not to run because Hillary was unbeatable. Of those who ran, Sanders was by far the biggest. And anyone was bound to get a quarter of the vote. Sanders has managed to do a lot better than I had expected. I do greatly fear that if Sanders won the nomination, the party elites would treat him like the Labour Party is treating Jeremy Corbyn. That is: they would cut off their nose to spite their face. There’s a much bigger tendency toward this on the left than on the right. And it is a particular problem here because the US doesn’t have a leftist party. We have a conservative and a moderate party. Not that Sanders is actually a leftist; but he’s clearly enough of one to terrify the New Democrats.

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