With Progressives Ready in the Wings, No Post-Election Honeymoon for Clinton
If she's elected, groups and lawmakers on the left intend to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for promises made on the campaign trail
As polls continue to show Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ahead of GOP rival Donald Trump, many on the left are looking to November 9th and beyond to ensure a hypothetical President Clinton adhere to a progressive agenda that bucks Wall Street influence and follows through on promises made on the campaign trail.
Indeed, several have said, as Brookings Institution senior fellow William Galston did to The Hill this week, that Clinton "doesn't get a honeymoon"—she'll immediately be pressed to prove her progressive proclamations were made not just in the name of political expediency.
"A lot of people are along for the ride through November 8th and will need assurances after that with big, bold action," Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told the Washington Post on Friday. "If you lose people early on, it's hard to get them back on board."
Of course, the election outcome is far from a done deal, The Hill pointed out, as "Trump is positioned to compete in Florida and Ohio, two states where victories would put him close to the 270 electoral votes needed to be president."
Still, the Post reported, "interest groups and like-minded lawmakers are laying the groundwork to push Clinton, if she is elected, to prove her progressive bona fides through early legislation and personnel appointments."
From groups vetting "acceptable appointees for economic positions" to lawmakers advising on both personnel and legislative priorities, "[t]he activity reflects the fragile alliance between Clinton and the progressive wing of her party," the Post wrote.
As former Bernie Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver, who currently heads up the Our Revolution political organization, told the Post: "You can't claim to want to rein in Wall Street if your Treasury Department is filled with Wall Street executives."
Sanders himself is among those planning to hold Clinton's feet to the fire. "The day after the election," he wrote in an op-ed this week, "working with millions of grass-roots activists, I intend to do everything possible to make certain that the new president and Congress implement the Democratic platform, the most progressive agenda of any major political party in the history of the United States."
Listing tuition-free higher education, a $15 minimum wage, and universal healthcare as among his top priorities, the Vermont senator continued:
At a time of massive political discontent, when millions not only are contemptuous of the major political parties but are also actually giving up on democracy, we need a new administration that has both vision and courage. We need vision from the top to point the way toward a new America that is more inclusive and egalitarian—which boldly addresses income and wealth inequality, poverty, and the needs of the uninsured. We need an administration that has the courage to take on the powerful special interests—corporate America, Wall Street, the insurance and drug companies, the fossil fuel industry—who stand in the way of real change and whose greed is destroying this country.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has also been identified as the potential "thorn in chief" in Clinton's side.
"Anybody in their right mind doesn't want to get on the wrong side of Sen. Warren," Dennis Kelleher, CEO of financial reform advocacy group Better Markets, said to CBS Moneywatch. "She has a national following and a platform and a megaphone that no candidate in their right mind would want to be on the wrong side of."
Liberals hope that includes Clinton—and they have ample reason to be concerned.
Referring to the contents of recent WikiLeaks disclosures, one "liberal Democratic operative" told Politico last week: "We were already kind of suspicious of where Hillary's instincts were, but now we see that she is who we thought she was. The honeymoon is going to be tight and small and maybe nonexistent."
Also citing the email leaks, author and former investment banker Nomi Prins this week offered a bleak look at "Hillary's America, past, present, and future."
"It's a land lacking in meaningful structural reform of the financial system, a place where the big banks have been, and will continue to be, coddled by the government," Prins wrote. "No CEO will be jailed, no matter how large the fines his bank is saddled with or how widespread the crimes it committed. Instead, he's likely to be invited to the inaugural ball in January. Because its practices have not been adequately controlled or curtailed, the inherent risk that Wall Street poses for Main Street will only grow as bankers continue to use our money to make their bets."
"In Hillary's America," she opined, "Wall Street will still own Main Street."
Not if progressives have anything to do with it. The "good news," declared 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben last week, "is that when she wins, none of us will be under the slightest illusion about who she is."
He was appealing to the climate movement, but his words ring true across the board: "The honeymoon won't last 10 minutes; on November 9 we'll be organizing for science and human rights and against the timid incrementalism that marks her approach."