Hillary Clinton is forging her own path to the White House. And it diverges sharply from her husband’s 1992 strategy. Then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton ran away from his party’s liberal positions and supported positions more likely to appeal to the nation’s middle and blue-collar electoral bloc-more cops on the street, traditional marriage, etc. Hillary Clinton has a different strategy. Move further to the left and embrace President Obama’s progressive agenda. The only thing she opposes him on is free trade.
This is quite a shift from the Clinton plan of 07-08. She and her team planned to win the White House by campaigning on pragmatic centrism and experience. A young, upstart US Senator from Illinois made sure that ship sailed. Now, Clinton has decided to gamble on the nation’s changing demographics and fully embrace virtually every progressive policy proposal brought forth of late (some championed by the same former Senator who beat her).
Last month Hillary embraced Comprehensive Immigration Reform aka “amnesty” for illegals. She has hinted she supports debt free college though Bernie Sanders seems to have stolen that campaign point. She full throatily endorsed abortion rights in her campaign rollout and has moved unequivocally leftward on gay marriage.
Such policy embraces have helped Hillary fully embrace Obama’s legacy. Yet, short of support for not repealing the ACA the President’s legacy looks increasingly mixed. Under the President the party has been decimated at the state and local level. For example, for the first time since the late 1980’s the GOP controls the majority of local offices in dark blue California. While the ACA did pass and remains the President’s signature domestic policy achievement other major efforts have fallen flat. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Bill has not prevented banks from continuing to acquire toxic assets, the Fed’s o% interest rate for years has hurt millions of Americans trying to save and the centralization of student loans has not prevented student debt from eclipsing $1 trillion.
Worse, the President’s legacy on foreign policy and economic performance is far from stellar. Highlighting such a struggle was this year’s 1st quarter GDP report which showed the economy shrunk 0.7%. And while the unemployment rate has fallen under Obama’s tenure it has done so at an unsteady pace. More importantly, average wages have barely budged since Obama took office. This is an economic legacy Hillary will have to deal with.
On foreign policy Obama’s legacy was always tied to Clinton. Her tenure as Secretary of State under the President ensured as much. Since OBL was killed in 2010 the President has an abysmal record. The attack on Benghazi was only the start in 2012. Since that time the Syrian Civil War has created a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, the rise of ISIS has weakened the Iraq government and fueled a secretarian conflict regionwide. The latest, a nuclear deal with Iran, looks worse the more we learn about it. At this point the deal seems to rely more on the Iranians words than ink on the contract.
These are all the things that Clinton will have to grapple with come 2016. Not only that but she will also have to find a way to mobilize the Obama coalition without Obama being on the ticket. If anything, the 2010 and 2014 midterms proved how much of a challenge that can be. With Bernie Sanders pilfering progressive support from her in the primary she will likely come out the victor but pushed so far to the left any Republican candidate looks moderate by comparison. This will further ensure Clinton has to rely on an unreliable majority-minority, upscale-downscale coalition to win the White House while Republicans will rely on winning blue-collar voters in key swing states.
All in all, considering Obama’s pitiful legacy, Hillary’s embrace of it and her far left policy positions I have to like the GOP’s chances.