It has long been said by disenchanted left-wing people that America has no left wing party—just a right wing and a moderate right wing party. This has been the case for years until recently with the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. One would think liberals would be ecstatic. While many are, once again, the left is cannibalizing itself in the face of opportunity.
I’m just going to say this: Hillary supporters are pessimistic and politically blind. There’s no other way of putting it. They are mostly Baby Boomers, many of whom base their votes on an assumption of Republican narrative dominance that has been for years since the realignment of the south, but no longer exists. For the sake of electability they are afraid of embracing ideas they think are “too radical” even though they may agree with them.
But here are five charts from the nonpartisan PoliticalCompass.org which places candidates on a political spectrum based rough estimations of their ideology. Each one should serve as a wake up call about what is actually “too radical.” The X-axis is the economic scale, and the Y-axis is the social scale:
This graph shows where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fall on a political spectrum in comparison to the GOP. We’ll keep referencing this as we go on, but for now, something very interesting should stand out: Bernie Sanders is closer to the middle—the objective political center—than any other candidate running.
Now here’s 2008 primary election:
Both Hillary and Obama ran to the left of Hillary Clinton in 2016, and much closer to Sanders now. Even John McCain ran to the left of her. But, this is a primary, following 8 years of the unpopular George W. Bush, and even then, Obama had to shift to the middle during the general. So let’s also look at that graph:
If this graph proves anything, it’s that the Democrats can get elected running on a more liberal platform than Hillary is willing to adopt. Barack Obama definitely did tack to the center from where he was in the primary, but he’s still a far cry from his rival, John McCain. Bob Barr is almost identically placed with Hillary 2016.
Now we’ll compare to 2012:
This chart is disturbing because it shows that on the economic scale, Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary is to the right of Barack Obama four years ago in a general. This begs the question: Where would Hillary end up on the spectrum if she wins the nomination?
The 2012 spectrum also shows that the president ran far to the right of where he campaigned from four years prior. However, there are factors that likely influenced this decision: he had succeeded in a major legislative battle in passing the Affordable Care Act, and was fighting off rumors about his religion and ideology—some of which Clinton helped fuel in her 2008 primary race against him (but I’ll get to that later).
Take a look at the chart from the 2004 presidential election:
This chart is damning, and should bother Democrats. Not only is Hillary Clinton in 2016 nearly identically placed with George W. Bush in 2004 economically, but Barack Obama in 2012 is only a moderate shift to the left of his predecessor eight years earlier. However, 2008 Obama was to the left of John Kerry.
These graphs show the rightward shift that occurred following the realignment of the south which resulted in the loss of America’s left-wing party. That said, with the exception of 2016 Hillary, they indicate a pendulum shift the other way—which means that the American people are much more moderate than the current GOP, and even more centrist than the right wing Hillary Clinton is in 2016. And so, can we allay fears of Bernie’s “radicalism”?
The tendency to surrender the center, and shift to the right in response to GOP pull is a serious problem for the Democratic Party that shows it never got over the loss of the south. This in turn has disheartened liberal voters which has fueled continued rightward pandering in a vicious cycle.
Indeed, this is how FDR’s Democratic Party became the weak mess it is today. Under the leadership of New Democrat President Bill Clinton the party handed the GOP control over the national dialogue, and by extension, the narrative, ensuring every liberal candidate would face an uphill battle to sell his or her message over the next decade. John Kerry is among the many casualties of what can only be described as cannibalism within the party. Responding to the weakened state, Democrats have capitulated over and over on issue after issue.
Hillary Clinton is continuing the cycle. She’s repudiating the left—this time, targeting Sanders for being unrealistic on economics. The most recent example of this is Clinton surrogate Paul Krugman’s latest attack on a study supporting Sanders’ proposals which lacked any substantive analysis. Clinton is spreading the narrative that the left and economics are not compatible-even though Sanders’ proposals look an awful lot like FDR’s New Deal. She is unwittingly starting a fire that future Democrats will have to put out in an effort to win southern white voters in a general election.
*It is worth noting that this isn’t the first time Clinton has done this. In the 2008 election, she circulated a picture of President Obama dressed in traditional Somali garb in order to stir fears the he was a Muslim. The questioning of his religion has haunted the president ever since.*
Simultaneously, Clinton is resorting to these tactics because she’s ignoring the defining issues of our time: the wealth gap and systemic corruption that have resulted from years of a laissez-faire regulatory approach to the economy and campaign finance. This election, and every election following until change occurs, will come down to these issues. By not addressing them, the Democratic Party is missing the forest that is is long-term party dominance, for the trees that are shortsighted fears of change.
Hillary Clinton is hurting the Democratic Party, and ensuring America’s left remains unrepresented. Her ambition and lack of judgment are liabilities. Enough is enough.