Hillary Clinton made an economic speech today and in it she listed many views that were very Progressive including wanting to prosecute both individuals and their Wall Street companies for criminal actions. It would be hard to press a better button for the base of Progressives in the Democratic Party…and she certainly knows that.
Faced with strong popularity growing for Bernie Sanders’ opposing campaign, it isn’t surprising to see this strategic move to “out-Bernie” Bernie but the real question that arises is, if it is so effortless for Hillary to drastically change her more conservative stances she held until very recently, coincidentally, in a primary where Progressive stands would be most beneficial, just how genuine and permanent are these changes of opinion?
The place to begin is with the fact that Bill and Hillary Clinton are very close and entwined with Wall Street. The Clinton Foundation is an enormous entity that endlessly seeks huge sums of money and Wall Street has been a very generous contributor. Chelsea Clinton worked for a hedge fund firm and her husband ran one so its even in the family. Wall Street remains a big financier of the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign.
So one would reasonably ask, if Wall Street continues to be close with Hillary and donating to her while she continues to attack them in speeches…do they know something that Progressive Democrat voters may not know? If her threats to go after Wall Street haven’t made Wall Street come out against her or hesitate in backing her, wouldn’t it be fair to assume that they may have a reason to not be too concerned by what she is saying?
It is a standard cynical practice in the Presidential race, for candidates to pander to their base in the primaries then when they get to the general election, they move to the middle on issues. It’s also a standard in each party that in their primary, the front runner will often try to move farther to the right in the GOP and farther to the left in the Democratic Party to try and take the wind out of the sails of their primary challengers.
It is the way the game is often played but that doesn’t mean it is ethical. It is in fact purposely lying to the very people who decide who they want to represent their views as their party’s candidate. But lying has been institutionalized in our democracy so the public has basically been told not to whine after the fact when they’ve voted for a candidate who tricked them (Scott Walker’s political career is based primarily on this).
At this point, it is challenging to put aside the concern that Hillary may have reassured Wall Street that she will be speaking out against them to win the primary but that they shouldn’t take it seriously because she won’t actually follow through with the attacks if elected.
Even if this was the case, there is the possibility that despite the best made plans…going too far down the populist road may make it too politically difficult to turn back. So if Hillary had intended to deceive Democratic voters about her true views of Wall Street, if that expectation is cemented in place, not just by Dems but by independent voters who could help elect her in the General Election, she would have a more difficult choice to make. Reverse her course on reigning in Wall Street and risk losing a bid at a second term at the hands of voters who feel betrayed or staying the course and being abandoned by Wall Street in her re-election fundraising.
Doing the right thing can often be much more difficult than doing the wrong thing. Standing up to Wall Street is difficult for a politician, pretending to do so with a wink and a nod is easy.
One would hope Hillary is earnest in her stands to hold Wall Street criminally accountable and strongly regulate them. Whether it was originally intended or not, hopefully the importance of doing the right thing by standing with 99.9% of Americans and opposing the destructive power and greed of Wall Street would end up prevailing.