I’ve always believed that Bill Clinton irreparably damaged the Democratic Party by taking it further and further to the right, gradually submerging those ideals and policies that were the stuff of the New Deal and progressivism. I have in mind “ending welfare as we know it,” NAFTA, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and the formal embrace of Wall Street at the expense of the Rest of Us. His personal peccadilloes cemented his notoriety, in my view.
Then there was Hillary, the good wife throughout all his indiscretions with a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. That she stood by her man suggests that political ambition and shared principles, such as they are, were deemed more important than personal respectability.
Yet, despite this past, Ms. Clinton assuredly assumed the mantle of frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. She had the credentials and the experience.
Then came Bernie.
Mr. Sanders beckons us to wash away Clintonism and recall, if not resume, the New Deal. He insists that we can have a decent society in the manner of Scandinavia, with universal health care, free education, minimal poverty, more economic equality, a diminished financial sector, and a government that works. Put away cynicism and burnish idealism.
And people like what they hear, judging by the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, which find him leading Ms. Clinton.
Now the Democratic establishment is worried. We know this because Clinton allies and operatives have sounded the negativity horn against Mr. Sanders, even stooping to red-baiting and hints of racism.
Corey Robin, writing for Crooked Timber, reminds us of the Clintons, past and present. They are not to be trusted and we should not be misled by their words. I encourage you to read his piece.
As for the red-baiting, consider this article in The Guardian.
The dossier, prepared by opponents of Sanders and passed on to the Guardian by a source who would only agree to be identified as “a Democrat”, alleges that Sanders “sympathized with the USSR during the Cold War” because he went on a trip there to visit a twinned city while he was mayor of Burlington.
Similar “associations with communism” in Cuba are catalogued alongside a list of quotes about countries ranging from China to Nicaragua in a way that supporters regard as bordering on the McCarthyite rather than fairly reflecting his views.
Sanders has insisted on many occasions this year that his own philosophy of democratic socialism is very different from that of authoritarian regimes, and much more in keeping with the tradition of American reformers such as Franklin D Roosevelt.
Nevertheless, should Ms. Clinton defeat Mr. Sanders, I will vote in her favor against any of the sordid Republican bunch.