As Hillary Clinton Readies 2016 Presidential Run, Progressives Await Answers

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As Hillary Clinton Readies 2016 Presidential Run, Progressives Await Answers

Former U.S. Secretary of State set to become presumptive Democratic nominee, but progressives question her stance on issues like TPP, Keystone XL

Hillary Clinton is set to announce her 2016 presidential run on Sunday. (Photo: Karen Murphy/flickr/cc)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is prepared to officially announce her intention to run for president on Sunday, ending months of hints and speculation over her candidacy plans and picking up where her 2008 campaign left off.

The formal declaration will come in a casual manner, with a social media push starting on Twitter, "followed by a video and email announcement" and a campaign visit to Iowa.

Clinton's announcement will make her the third formally declared candidate for president, and the front-runner for the Democratic party, with only Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky officially running.

While Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee, progressives in Washington are ready to challenge her stance on a range of populist issues, particularly over her economic legacy.

Al Jazeera writes:

[T]he widening gap between rich and poor has become the primary preoccupation for progressive activists, and the cause of economic populism has been championed by figures such as Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as unsuccessful Democratic primary challengers from the left, including New York gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout and Chicago mayoral competitor Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia.

Clinton, whose own legacy and record is seen as more centrist and aligned with business interests, will have to navigate those strong political crosscurrents in her own party, even if she runs virtually unopposed. The former Senator from New York has collected millions of dollars in contributions from financial institutions throughout her political career and is perceived as being cozy with Wall Street.

Among the key issues are Clinton's stance on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the corporate-friendly trade deal which consumer watchdogs and liberals in Congress have slammed as "NAFTA on steroids."

She has also stayed silent on reform of the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs and approval of the massive Keystone XL pipeline.

An investigative report published last Thursday by International Business Times also revealed that Clinton ignored reports of violence and threats against labor activists in Colombia while her family's charitable foundation took in money from a major oil corporation accused of worker intimidation there.

Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, told Al Jazeera, "It's just on so many important society-shaping issues we don't know where she stands and we have a suspicion that she'd rather not say."

"So far she hasn't been a profile in courage. So far she hasn't shown that she knows that these are important issues," Hickey added.

In case Clinton's answers, or those of any Democratic presidential nominee, are not what the progressive front wants to hear, grassroots advocacy organizations are readying a response. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has launched a petition calling for all candidates to embrace "big, bold, economic populist ideas" such as debt-free college and campaign finance reform. It has been signed by 5,000 people, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

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