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Former secreatary of state Hillary Clinton takes the stage on Thursday night for a debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders hosted by MSNBC. (Photo: Getty)

Progressive 3.0: Beware the Latest Version of Hillary Clinton

Some thoughts on watching last night's Democratic debate

John Atcheson

Listening to Hillary last night trying to pass herself off as a progressive is like watching a chameleon change colors to match its surroundings.  Not quite the same, however.  The chameleon’s move is defensive. Hillary’s is strictly offensive.

The poll-tested, focus-grouped phrases like “a progressive who gets things done” come right out of the Madison Avenue mold.  Or take her contention that the “Wall Street guys are working against her.”  They’re doing this by contributing to her Super PAC, apparently, because the week prior to saying this Hillary was meeting with the likes of Bain Capital and Blackrock. It can't denied, Wall Street money was and is pouring into her campaign. 

"When [Clinton] says let’s talk about issues and let’s look forward, what she’s really saying is let’s not talk about my campaign financing, or my policy history, because it won’t bear the scrutiny my new, new, new progressive brand demands."Look, let’s get this straight.

It wasn't very long ago when Hillary Clinton favored the TPP, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the death penalty. She also opposed gay marriage and reinstating Glass-Steagall.  Her foreign policy is closer to the neocons who got us into Iraq (which she voted for) than what the American people favor. She’s flipped on immigration, gun control, and NAFTA.

That’s not progressive. 

She attributes her changes towards progressivism to “evolving” as a result of “new information.” But as Politico points out, for most of these issues, there was no new information. For example, what’s changed on gay marriage, other than public opinion?   It also begs a question: if Sanders could see the folly of invading Iraq, or the stupidity of repealing Glass-Steagall, or the gross inequity of trade pacts, why couldn’t she?

Either she has bad judgment, or she’s being disingenuous about flip-flopping.

But now it’s apparent that the American people are taking a progressive turn and so, Hillary is shedding her moderate coat, and donning her progressive one. 

When Mrs. Clinton – filled with righteous indignation – says let’s talk about issues and let’s look forward, what she’s really saying is let’s not talk about my campaign financing, or my policy history, because it won’t bear the scrutiny my new, new, new progressive brand demands. 

As for whether the money she takes buys influence, the American people have their own opinion. In a groundbreaking study of American beliefs called "the Smith Project," here’s what they had to say:

The Democratic and Republican Parties are essentially useless in changing  this situation. Americans overwhelmingly agree (78%-15%) that both political parties are too beholden to special interests to create any meaningful change.

The Smith Project is one of the most comprehensive analyses of what Americans believe about the political process and their government, and they’ve concluded that money buys favors.

Could Hillary be taking Wall Street’s money and not being influenced?  Well, maybe. But I guarantee this: they will have access to a Clinton White House that you and I don’t.

It’s worth noting that in both Obama’s administration and in Bill Clinton’s, Wall Street luminaries held many of the top spots in government, including Secretary of Treasury. 

But back to her bait-and-switch persona.  It’s important because the American people want conviction and integrity.  Switching from long held positions as the winds change shows little conviction and questionable integrity.  And that contributes to concerns about money influencing positions. 

Essentially, Hillary will be whatever she needs to be to get elected. It’s about her, not us. Moderate? Progressive? Whatever we want to hear, apparently.

At the end of the day, Mrs. Clinton is trying to change to meet the changing times.  But the times are calling for revolutionary change, integrity, and independence, while she’s selling herself as a pragmatic deal-maker who knows how to work the old system.


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John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson. John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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