The 2016 presidential race, at least on the Democratic side, gives one a strong feeling of deja vu. 2008 with different faces, but very similar sentiments.
“I never caucused before,” said Christa Cronk, “I like Hillary and I’d love to see a female in the White House, but I think she comes from the same old establishment.” (2008)
“Yet many younger women who gathered did not share Ms. Dunham’s visceral enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton, saying that for most of their lives she has been a familiar fixture of establishment politics rather than an exciting new voice or an agent of change.” (2016)
Clinton now is like Clinton then and while she and President Obama had their differences on the 2008 campaign trail, they were and still are, both, clearly centrist Democrats.
She has stated “I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record of standing up and fighting for progressive values”, but her claim to being a progressive is pretty suspect.
On trade, in 2012 Clinton stated “This TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field”. Then during the first debate in 2015 she said she no longer supported TPP.
While candidates can certainly change their minds, her support as Secretary of State suddenly changing to opposition as a presidential candidate does seem to point out that she is only following the trend of growing negative public sentiment towards TPP so she can appear to be a “champion of the common folk”.
On Wall Street, well, considering her lavish speaking fees and her opposition to any meaningful banking regulation (remember President Bill Clinton effectively de-regulated the banks when he got rid of the Glass-Steagall act in 1999), she is hardly in a position to claim a progressive stand on reigning in the excesses of Wall Street. Has she been purchased by Wall Street? I doubt it, but by Wall Street standards the rental rates are minimal.
On Health-care, single payer is, in her book, “off the table”. She supports the Affordable Care Act, (a very weak first step towards universal coverage), which guaranteed the health insurance industry and big pharma not just a slice of the existing pie, but an even bigger pie paid for by the tax payers.
Her list goes on—, she is no progressive, but has managed to convince many that she is..
As Conor Lynch at Salon noted “Sanders was a true progressive when progressivism was out of style back in the ‘90s, while Clinton has become increasingly progressive as more Americans have shifted to the left”.
On trade, Sanders has opposed free trade consistently because it is not “fair trade” meaning it is not fair to the people, workers, or the environment. It does, as he notes, work really well for corporations and the 1%.
On Wall Street, his tag line, “ If banks are too big to fail, they are too big to exist”. No Wall Street speaking fees, no super pacs and his comment, “The CEOs of large multinationals may like Hillary. They ain’t going to like me,” “And Wall Street is going to like me even less”. His proposal for a financial transaction tax— no they won’t like that a bit.
On health-care, Sanders’ idea, like the rest of the industrialized world, universal single payer, health-care as a right, not a privilege, “Medicare for all”.
His list goes on, he is not perfect, no one is, perhaps that is why he needs and asks for a revolution, he knows change will not happen without the involvement of the people.
Yes the 2008 deja vu is about Hillary Clinton, (she has changed little unless it was politically expedient to do so), but also, Obama and Sanders as candidates . Obama’s Progressive ideals were part of the reason he was elected. Of course, once in the White House, most of those fell by the wayside.
Would Sanders turn out to be a centrist or worse while masquerading as a Progressive?
His history would say no, a 50 year history of standing up for civil and minority rights, advocating Palestinian statehood and actually marching with striking workers, while Obama only talked about “putting on comfortable shoes and walking the picket line.”
I met Bernie Sanders early in his Congressional career. He traveled to Wisconsin to sit on a panel discussing fair farm prices and a food system determined by farmers and consumers, the environment and other social justice issues, he has a history and I think he will stick by it.
He is challenging the entire Democratic Party establishment, which is a good thing and long overdue.