With Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, it appears the campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will directly appeal to moderate Republicans in order to win the general election, if she becomes the nominee.
The strategy will not only allow Clinton to be her authentic political self again, but it will also end the charade of moving to the left to appease supporters of her opponent, Bernie Sanders. It would also diminish any confusion over whether Clinton is anything more than a corporate Democrat, who progressives should approach with great skepticism and opposition.
As POLITICO reported, supporters of Hillary Clinton made a “furious round of calls to top Bush family donors to convince them that she represents their values better than Donald Trump.” Clinton campaign supporters have a list of “Wall Street donors who supported Jeb Bush and other unsuccessful Republican candidates months ago.” An unnamed Clinton fundraiser stated, “We’re making sure anyone who wants to be part of this campaign can be part of this campaign, including Republicans who feel disenfranchised by Donald Trump,” and, “There’s no question there’ve been a lot of incoming calls from Republicans.”
The Clinton campaign said it was engaged in “no official outreach” to these donors but did not suggest the campaign was opposed to seeking their support.
During the Democratic primary, Clinton has dismissed criticism of how she has raised campaign funds and largely refused to disown many of the lobbyists or major corporate donors, who have supported her. She has refused to release transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, which could show whether she has promised the financial institution anything if she is elected president.
Between 2013 and 2015, after Clinton left the position of secretary of state, she gave 82 paid or sponsored speeches to 82 corporations, trade associations, and other groups, who actively seek to sway government through lobbying efforts. This type of groundwork in corporate America only strengthens her appeal to moderate Republicans.
It has become increasingly clear that foreign policy hawks in the Republican Party prefer Clinton over Trump.
One of Clinton’s super PACs, Correct The Record, put together a page full of praise from Republicans. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger declared in 2014, “She’d put me under a great conflict of interest if she were a candidate because I tend to support the Republicans,” and, “Yes, I’d be comfortable with her as the president.” The same year, Republican Governor Rick Perry said he thought Clinton’s stance on Syria—that the “lack of prior U.S. intervention in Syria emboldened jihadists to penetrate Iraq”—was about right. In 2015, South Carolina Republican Representative Jeff Duncan applauded an agreement signed with Mexico by Clinton to open up “a million and a half acres in the Gulf of Mexico” for offshore drilling.
On MSNBC, Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist, recently said Clinton will go after “senior members of the Republican foreign policy establishment.” People like David Petraeus, retired General Raymon T. Odierno, Colin Powell, and Brent Scowcroft are likely to be persuaded by the Clinton campaign to help her win the presidency.
The Clinton campaign and Democratic Party establishment have already taken steps to ensure this works as a viable strategy. Allies of Clinton have complained that Sanders has forced her too far to the left already. They do not believe they should compromise with Sanders and give his campaign supporters anything they demand at the convention.
Superdelegates have overwhelmingly defied the votes of citizens in states from which they hail. Particularly, in states like Washington, where Sanders won all the counties and put together a landslide victory, they still intend to vote for Clinton.
The Democratic National Committee rejected nearly all of the people the Sanders campaign proposed for standing committees at the Democratic National Convention. Only three people were placed on the committees, and the DNC refused to assign any of the proposed people to the Rules Committee.
Sanders wrote in a letter to DNC Chairwomman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, “As it stands now, the chairs of the Rules Committee and the Platform Committee are active supporters of Secretary Clinton’s campaign. But even more than that, they both are aggressive attack surrogates on the campaign trail.”
“I do not, and the millions who have supported our campaign will not, have any confidence that either of them will conduct committee proceeding in an even-handed manner,” Sanders added. “In fact, the suggestion that they would be appropriate chairs in and of itself suggests the standing committees are being established in an overtly partisan way meant to exclude the input of the voters who have supported my candidacy.”
Former congressman Barney Frank, who serves on the board of Signature Bank in New York, was appointed to co-chair the Rules Committee. He has previously accused Sanders of engaging in a “kind of McCarthyism” by demanding Clinton release transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. He also is not fond of Sanders’ plans to break up the big banks.
The Democratic National Committee has stacked the deck against Sanders in order to prevent his campaign and supporters from forcing Clinton into a precarious position, where she has to run on a platform that takes progressive positions that are toxic to her corporate paymasters. Rather than win by appealing to the millions of new voters Sanders has brought into the Democratic Party, they plan to appeal to the Republican establishment and win regardless of whether this alienates millennials, independents, or left-leaning voters, who have contempt for her chameleon politics, where she privately courts corporate executives while publicly claiming to support pro-working class policies.
Kshama Sawant, a Socialist Alternative city council member in Seattle and supporter of Sanders, appeared on “Democracy Now!” She believes he should run as an independent and that the country needs a major third party to represent the 99 percent.
“My problem is that if we are looking for a real strategy to break working people away from Trump, then what we have to do is present a real alternative. And Sanders is right, Bernie is right: In poll after poll, repeatedly and systematically, he has done remarkably well in terms of the fact that if he was to be the Democratic candidate, he would deliver a thumping defeat to Trump. Why is the Democratic Party establishment not doing everything in their power to promote his campaign?” Sawant asked.
The Clinton campaign and its supporters seem to think they can win by appealing to the Republican establishment, however, this is the anti-establishment election. Trump and Sanders have achieved great success by appealing to angry voters, who are fed up with the system. So, Democratic voters should ask whether this strategy makes sense, even if this may be the best Clinton can do because she is a corporate politician who comes off as inauthentic when she acts like a populist.
Additionally, if Clinton runs in the general election with politics similar to a moderate Republican, it stands to reason she will govern as a centrist or a moderate Republican in 2016. This will mean she will be a leader, who tries to triage the status quo that has poor and working class Americans living in complete utter misery. What do Democratic voters, who believe this country needs to take bold initiatives, think about that?
As of May 8, there are 12 primaries and caucuses left. Sanders is still aggressively campaigning to beat Clinton.
Democratic voters in states and territories, which have yet to vote, may look at the direction the Clinton campaign is heading and bail on her campaign. They may decide they do not want to perpetuate a status quo driven by destructive corporate politics. They may help Sanders achieve landslide victories in the remaining primaries and caucuses. They may give his campaign momentum that could boost his candidacy in a showdown against the Democratic Party establishment at the convention in July.
There is reason enough to be concerned about the Clinton campaign’s plans to tack right before outright winning the nomination. But there is even more to be concerned about whether the 2016 general election is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and Clinton attempts to win by claiming she’s a smarter warrior-in-chief, who can be trusted to make better corporate-driven trade deals than the billionaire blowhard, who just so happens to have written a book on the art of deal making.