hope & change

It is a puzzlement to me that Hillary Clinton is attempting to paint herself as the logical successor to President Obama, since her message of harsh pragmatism and preemptive compromise sits in such stark contrast to the message of hope and change. Do voters truly believe this narrative?

Certainly Candidate Obama and President Obama have diverged considerably, both in tone and in target. But the natural conclusion from these attempted connections between Clinton and Obama is that hope was not audacious but, in fact, imprudent. It is as if to suggest that we collectively lower our sights, dim our dreams, and ask for less of ourselves.

While I think we can all agree that a clear-eyed view of the future is hardly rosy with Republican obstruction likely to continue no matter the Democratic candidate, I get the distinct sense that we disagree deeply over whether this dour outlook should inform the development of our policy priorities. The cynical wing of the party seems bound and determined to give away the farm long before the negotiations have even begun. The starry-eyed wing of the party, on the other hand, persists stubbornly in its belief that we can and should set our aim higher.

The Political Compass provides regular analysis of candidates, plotting their relative extremity in a simple right v. left and authoritarian v. libertarian graph. I think the similarities between Hillary Clinton and the Republican candidates unravels, for me, the argument that electing any Democrat should be paramount in this election cycle. When one of the two Democratic choices is virtually indistinguishable from the majority of the Republican candidates, it seems entirely silly to claim that a D next to a candidate’s name is sufficient to render them an acceptable choice. Moreover, it seems telling that Clinton’s strategic response to the surge from the left has been to run farther to the right.

The rash of recent endorsements has only served to further my mystification. Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign preemptively endorsed Clinton in spite of virtually identical policy positions from the two candidates. (This leaves aside entirely the extremely questionable fact that Clinton has a spottier record on GLBT issues than Sanders does.) In general, apparent crony politicking such as this tends to indicate that the fight within the Democratic Party is less between the right and left wings of the party and more between those who have opted to jettison hope and those who retain it.

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