Hillary should be working to convince weary democrats that their reservations are unfounded, but instead she’s kowtowing to republicans as the chasm of disillusionment on the left grows deeper.
It seems as though the Clinton campaign believes that poll numbers equal enthusiasm—or perhaps they don’t really care either way as long as the numbers stay up. Sure she won the nomination pretty handily in the end, but Sanders was the candidate that inspired the base. His supporters may have comprised a smaller percentage of the electorate, but the passion was exponentially higher overall. When Sanders lost the primary the majority of his supporters shuffled over to the Clinton campaign under a malaise of malcontent. They obviously couldn’t vote for Donald Trump, but Clinton is the foremost example of the type of politician Bernie spoke out against (entrenched, establishment, one-percenters.) Of course we know about the Bernie or Bust crowd, many of whom have stuck to their collective guns and moved over to the Green Party to support Jill Stein, or are abstaining entirely. And while much of the democratic base has come around to Hillary over the last few months as she’s opened up a sizeable lead, her recent moves have exacerbated the symptoms of Clinton-reluctance many dems seem to be stricken with.
If it wasn’t for Trump being a car crash, if say, Paul Ryan or Mitt, or even Jeb, Rubio or Kasich was the nominee, this race would be tight. And here’s the thing: democrats want to love Hillary—they do. They want to be enthusiastic about their nominee, they want to come around. But by courting Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and Meg Whitman, campaigning with James Clad, and delivering Reaganesque speeches about American exceptionalism, she’s pushing weary lefties further away from her circle. Will she still win? Almost surely. But for democratic voters who feared she was far more of a centrist than she led on, for those who reluctantly believed her Sanders-influenced speech at the convention, she is surely testing their devotion.
Moves like this, especially in the current political climate with such a vast assortment of nomad republicans up for grabs, may help widen her appeal—but it correspondingly weakens its intensity. Turnout is important. Clinton has a solid core, and she’s taking them for granted. A bit of aisle-reaching is fine, everyone tries to do it, it helps. But it’s time for Hillary to ease off the pedal a bit and spend some time at home. Barack Obama didn’t win by grasping for stray GOP votes, he won by electrifying the democratic base. And while Hillary does not have the built in base that Obama had in 2008 or 2012, she has enough.
Hillary may be bringing over handfuls of influential republicans, but she’s simultaneously pissing off democrats who have been “with her” for a while now. I assume the logic here is that a large percentage of democrats have already locked in their vote, given the alternative candidates. So why spend time on those who are already convinced? Well you spend time so voters show up at the polls, you spend time to drum up enthusiasm towards your presidency, you spend time, to put it quite simply, because you should.
by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.