The problem Clinton strategist must face is how to pilfer from Trump at least a portion of the white working class of the Rust Belt and how to contend for a slice of the independent voters. Not an easy task, not so much because of the character of a candidate like Clinton, who is struggling to assert herself and make her way, but for features tied to her personality, her history, her choices, her liabilities (real or imagined) and probably also with open or shrouded forms of misogyny.
There is another issue, perhaps more important. There is a fundamental problem for the Democratic Party, which makes it difficult to challenge someone like Trump. It can be synthesized in the participation of another New York tycoon, Michael Bloomberg, ten times richer than Trump, at the convention in Philadelphia. A presence far from random on the Wells Fargo stage in Philadelphia.
According to Lee Drutman, quoted by the conservative commentator Reihan Salam on Slate, the Democrats have replaced the Republicans as the party of the most affluent Americans. The researcher of the think tank New America says that back in 2012, Barack Obama won a share of voters in the income bracket above $220,000 higher of that obtained by Mitt Romney, and it was the first time since 1964 that the top 4 percent of the income scale supported a Democrat more than a Republican.
Now, just for this fact reducing the Democrats to the party of Bloombourgeoisie, as Salam claims, is an oversimplification, but it is an image that gives an account of a political force, however well perceived, rightly or wrongly, by the electorate opposing New York and liberals, which was considered as focused on their rights to building a society at least a little more fair, as was in the original DNA of Roosevelt’s party.
Is it paradoxical that a billionaire like Trump can be the champion of the interests of the impoverished middle class? It is, but it’s true.
And this is the reason the candidacy of Sanders would have a logical sense in today’s environment, effectively countering Trump’s claim to represent workers and families in crisis areas of the country, and at the same time dragging young voters and voters who have been absent at the polls for a long time. The polls gave him a wide lead over The Donald, more than Clinton’s.
It didn’t happen. In fact, now it’s mainly up to Sanders to start the Herculean task of fighting for the votes of workers in high-risk territory — swing states, particularly in the Rust Belt.
His role will be even more crucial than Obama’s. Obviously the outgoing president was the star of the convention. Obviously he will lend a hand to Hillary in the campaign, along with Bill, Joe Biden, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, the leaders of the party and the show biz celebrities.
But there is also the risk that a too close link to Obama offers to his opponents — and Trump has already used it — the argument that a possible election of Clinton would be a third Obama term. This accusation, combined with the argument she is not going to be elected as an individual but as a couple with Bill, is a blatant form of the lowest rank of misogyny. But, as we learned during the primaries, it is a line of attack that works, not only among conservative voters, but also in electoral areas on the opposite side.
Beyond the criticism and poison, Clinton, with her inaugural speech, is facing a difficult test, after which the specific profile of her candidacy must be obvious and clear, especially in the field of international policy. It is the most difficult part of her much-anticipated inaugural speech. Her reputation as a “hawk” continues to create mistrust among voters and progressive activists. For some, that is their main objection to voting for her.
The fact is that she faces an isolationist and non-interventionist opponent. Regardless of the calculations that dictated his position, and however much he will really keep his promises if he is elected, it seems secondary to a good number of voters of both parties. In certain democratic electoral areas, it could be a good reason to stay home on Nov. 8, if Clinton does not give the answers that these voters expect.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Your weekly briefing of progressive news.