Matt 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 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.