That is a question I have been asking myself lately. Today’s Democratic Party seems much more like the pre 1932 Democrats which were pro corporate, upper middle class liberals.
It seems to me that this coalition Hillary has put together mirrors pretty closely of what at one time was referred to as the FDR coalition. A coalition bounded by economic liberalism, social conservatism, and hawkish foreign policy.
I don’t think this is the coalition she wanted when the primary began, but was the historical hand she was dealt. Hillary began this campaign with the full intention of leading the coalition of her husband, but that coalition swarmed around Obama.
The irony of history is that the coalition that supports Hillary is the coalition Bill Clinton spent eight years trying to destroy. With the passage of NAFTA, and the all around Neo Liberalism of the 90’s, the Democrats turned their back on these voters. As suggested earlier, Thomas Frank’s, One Market Under God, does of wonderful job explaining the disaster of the 90’s for American workers.
I am more sold on the “FDR coalition” of Hillary Clinton, that her herself. In this campaign she has sounded more populist, at times, than John Edwards, and has certainly been willing to throw into question the whole notion of “blind trade”. Hillary has not been willing to back pedal from the half measure of universal health care even when attacked by Obama from the right.
I do think however think Hillary has moved so far in an economically liberal direction that it will be difficult for her to back track. If elected it would be impossible for her to back down from her positions on health care and trade, in fact, it would be political suicide.
Like FDR, who also began as a centrist Democrat, Hillary has shown a willingness to move to the left. The whole premise of Naderism is that opposition from within or outside a political party can move candidates left or right. In short, third parties historical function is to push candidates away from the corporate center.
In this campaign it has been Hillary not her copy machine who has moved towards the populist center. She has appropriated much, if not all, of John Edwards populist rhetoric. She recently called for a moratorium on trade agreement which was even further than Edwards was willing to go. While both candidates have tried to navigate the populist terrain Hillary has been able to it without appearing elitist. When Hillary goes on her populist rants she looks right at home, and carries an authenticity that Obama has been unable to do.
I am and will continue to root for Hillary because unlike the pussified Democrats of the last 8 years, she has been willing to move to the populist center. If she is the nominee, she will continue in FDR like fashion to appropriate the Nader prods towards the populist center.