The presumption during the Democratic primary had been that Hillary was conservative and Bernie Sanders was pulling her to the left. That’s not the Clinton I know but I understand why others might think it. So far, she’s largely been judged by the men with whom she associates. Her record, however, shows a quest for economic equality and justice that began in her early days as a public defender. She is no more an elitist because she was well paid for her speaking engagements than is Susan Sarandon who is well paid for her acting.
Gideon Lewis Kalls makes a similar point in his article, “Could Hillary Clinton Become Champion of the 99 Percent?” (New York Times Magazine, 7/14/16, pgs. 32-35, 47.) After the “Occupy Wall Street” movement fizzled, Nobel laureate economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and others formed the Roosevelt Institute (Click) to take up the cause. Since that time, they have been working with Hillary Clinton to rewrite rules governing the economy. Many of the their objectives have not only been embraced by the candidate but have made their way into the into the Democratic platform. As Kalls suggests, “…Hillary Clinton’s economic sympathies might ultimately lie further to the left than skeptics supposed.” (Ibid pg. 32.)
Why did the Roosevelt Institute choose to work with Clinton and not Sanders? They admired her record of persistence. Since she carried universal health care to the Congress as First Lady, Republicans have perpetually punished her for her audacity. Still she has shown resilience and refused to back away from her goals. In her, the organization saw “this candidate, of all candidates [as] unlikely to respond to public hectoring or ultimatums.” (Ibid pg. 32.) In Sanders, they saw “personal iconoclasm and moral purity, ” qualities that “didn’t lend themselves to governance.” (Ibid, pg 34.)
I believe the group was right in their decision. As Erik Hoffer pointed out in The True Believer, neither idealists nor gadflies make good leaders. Politics requires pragmatism and a willingness to see half a loaf as a start, not a defeat. The Tea Party folks have shown us the folly of unyielding principle. That path leads nowhere. Governance is a messy business. It requires compromise and even the willingness to take a step backward at times. Fortunately for the country, Clinton has stamina, ideals and she will stay the course.