New Republic Writer Cheers Hillary’s ‘Leftward Shifts Toward Sanity’ and ‘Jabs At Trickle-Down Economics’

From her years at Yale Law School until early in her Senate career, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s liberal credentials rarely were questioned. Since then, many on the left have come to doubt that Hillary is one of them, for reasons that include her support for the Iraq war and her alleged coziness with Wall Street.

Rebecca Traister believes that it’s been twenty-five, not fifteen, years since Clinton started backing away from liberalism, but in any event Traister’s message to the doubters is that Classic Hillary is back. In a Sunday piece for The New Republic, Traister rejoiced that Hillary the presidential candidate seems to have abandoned “power-appeasing, over-careful politics” in favor of “leftward shifts toward sanity.”

Given that Hillary is “recalibrating to the left,” Traister contended, America is “facing a test: How much more—if at all—tolerant is this nation of difficult, disruptive liberal women, and how willing is Hillary to really commit to being one again? These answers will matter a lot to those American[s] who liked original Hillary—and haven't much cared for the revised versions.”

From Traister’s article (bolding added):

Her [kickoff] speech…replaced recent Democratic simpering about Ronald Reagan and “reaching across the aisle” with jabs at trickle-down economics…; that was refreshing. But even more surprising was hearing decades of centrist posturing give way to a citation of [Franklin] Roosevelt’s call for “Equality of opportunity…jobs for those who can work…Security for those who need it…The ending of special privilege for the few”…

…[E]ven her language on Saturday showed leftward shifts toward sanity. Banished were the anodyne residents of “Main Street”; instead, Hillary spoke of “poor people” and “the wealthiest” and “income inequality,” mentioning the “middle class” only as a dying historical possibility in need of “a better deal.” 

These are strong words, and certainly some new words, coming from a candidate with a long history of playing people-pleasing, power-appeasing, over-careful politics…

…As a law student, she reminded the crowd, she investigated conditions faced by migrant workers and later became the head of the Legal Services Corporation, where she “defended the right of poor people to have a lawyer.” Clinton did not name the people who she was working for: Walter Mondale…and Jimmy Carter…[H]er prior associations with those two liberal politicians seem like exactly the kind of thing she’s now looking to advertise, after years of stowing them in a closet, somewhere under her unused cookie trays and Tammy Wynette LPs…

…[T]he young, driven, civil-liberties obsessed, coke-bottle-bespectacled Hillary Rodham Clinton was not welcomed with open arms. America did not much like this woman when she first came to us: ambitious and tough and liberal and feminist…

And so, in her quest to become a mainstream, powerful politician, she contorted; she bent and stretched to be more like what the people could stomach...She mostly stopped wearing glasses in public, she cut her hair, turned center, then right. She partnered with conservative coots on flag-burning bills and violent video games; she retreated from reproductive rights, calling abortion a “sad, even tragic choice”; she described herself as “adamantly against illegal immigrants” and voted for a terrible war.

Her willingness to shape-shift will always haunt her…Those costs are on her, and they are ones she may have calculated from the beginning. This is, after all, a woman who wrote her college thesis on the radical antipoverty organizer Saul Alinsky and who shared his belief that the key to change is the accrual of power. America didn’t like the woman who admired Saul Alinsky very much. So in an attempt to gain power, she changed.

…Now that she’s recalibrating to the left, we’re facing a test: How much more—if at all—tolerant is this nation of difficult, disruptive liberal women, and how willing is Hillary to really commit to being one again? These answers will matter a lot to those American who liked original Hillary—and haven't much cared for the revised versions.

Poverty New Republic Rebecca Traister Hillary Clinton


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