Conservatives were blamed last time around for making Mitt Romney go too far to the right in the primaries. By too far right, they meant he didn’t endorse illegal alien amnesty.
But there’s a basic problem when a candidate has little credibility with an ideological grass roots that forces him to play up to them during the primaries and then compensate by dumping them in the general election.
The Democrats were able to avoid this with Obama who had solid leftist cred, but not with Hillary, who despite the Alinsky in her background, became associated with her husband’s efforts to play to the center by accepting welfare reform, and then their long term presidential strategy through the DLC which required her to moderate her positions. Last time around, it cost Hillary the White House.
And now Hillary faces a choice between overcompensating to the left or keeping her eye on the ball and hoping that the left doesn’t come up with another Obama.
Either one could wreck her presidential campaign a second time around.
Progressives feel they are in a political golden age in which questions about income inequality are growing louder, anti-gay marriage laws are falling and the growing Hispanic electorate regards the GOP with skepticism. Given all that, they don’t want to be stuck with a standard-bearer they see as too centrist.
So far, few on the left are mounting frontal attacks on Clinton, at least publicly.
But some are making it clear they will seek to push her to the left.
“If Hillary Clinton embraces the rising economic populist tide in America, there will be little political space for a credible primary challenger,” said Laura Friedenbach of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “But if she sides with big corporations against everyday people, there will be a huge amount of political space for some insurgent to run on an economic populist platform.”
“Every candidate who thinks about running will be faced with a whole set of questions, on holding Wall Street accountable, on combatting student debt, on expanding social security,” said Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of MoveOn.Org Political Action. “Whether it’s Secretary Clinton or Sen. Warren or others, all of them are going to have to address the issues that progressives really care about.”
Bernie Sanders isn’t likely to take down Hillary, but the left already knows the formula. Semi-charsimatic minority group member put through intensive media training and boosted with an astroturfed social media campaign.
And that’s not Hillary. It’s not Elizabeth Warren either.
The question is can the left come up with someone like that by 2016? Obama was dug up out of the Illinois State Senate. There could be some obscure local political hack with an Ivy League background who is good enough on camera and has lefty contacts waiting in the wings.
And Hillary knows it too.
So Hillary has to play up aggressively to the left so that they don’t kneecap her a second time around. She has to call for destructive environmental regulations that will make life more expensive for working families. She has to push class warfare and denounce American foreign policy. She has to endorse nationalized health care.
And that will make the general election more difficult for her.