Hillary Clinton is the ‘change’ candidate Progressives really need (2016)

The Clinton machine picked up yet another endorsement on Wednesday, as Hillary closes in on the DNC nomination: this time it was the youth-vote oriented and rock n’ roll preservationists over at Rolling Stone, and the appeal was made by founder Jann Wenner himself.

Wenner cites Hunter S. Thompson’s all-important work in the 1972 election, where he and the Stone threw its weight behind presidential hopeful and anti-war candidate George McGovern. It also happened to be the same year Hillary left her Republican affiliations behind and began to actively campaign with then-boyfriend Bill for McGovern’s candidacy, championing his progressive causes.

“We worked furiously for McGovern. We failed; Nixon was re-elected in a landslide,” Wenner writes. “But those of us there learned a very clear lesson: America chooses its presidents from the middle, not from the ideological wings. We are faced with that decision again.”

The moral here is that to be a martyr for “Change” is simply to be a martyr; the martyr tends to die along with the cause he’s dying for. For some that is totally OK. But the fight for social equality and political democracy — championed by the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson — must instead be won through a series of small, well-thought-out fights in Congress. Not an explosive fit of anger.

Bernie Sanders has not relayed this message back to the American constituency.

It is in this vein that Hillary Clinton as a progressive alternative has a certain appeal – Clinton’s promises are less grandiose than Sanders’, and thus less appealing for the Far Left. Though she alone comes with the wonkish policy chops to pass legislation created in the spirit of compromise, while still eliminating demands from congressional Republicans who impede progress and wish limit wealth to those very few Americans who already have it.


“Within [income inequality], almost all issues of social injustice can be seen,” Wenner writes. …None more so than climate change, which can be boiled down to the rights of mankind against the oligarchy that owns oil, coal and vast holdings of dirty energy, and those who profit from their use.”

Change can very rarely happen overnight, and when it does, it is indeed a revolution; yet during revolutions, chaos tends to reign over order – if only very shortly. And during that chaos unintended consequences lead many people get hurt, families uprooted, lives turned upside down.

Order is sometimes preferable.

Incremental change, by contrast, is less disruptiveDisruption in and of itself is not, as opposed to what Silicon Valley sometimes leads us to believe, the best choice for most Americans. Like the 162-game season in the game of baseball, incremental change game to game — the way a fielder positions himself, or a batter changes his stance, or pitcher adjusts his mechanics — can sometimes turn the tide and create winners. As the seasons progress, the collective progresses.

Many across the nation – especially in the South – are still catching up to the social norms of the modern era, not to mention a Digital Revolution that clashed with U.S. history’s first black president. In many ways, Donald Trump’s successes are reactionary to these swift winds of Change.

And although she doesn’t have that vinyl-record cool feel like Sanders, Clinton should very much be considered an agent of Change.

Kevin Spacey’s character broke the fourth wall in Season 3 of “House of Cards” and pointed out,  “No writer worth his salt can resist a good story, just as no politician can resist making promises he can’t keep.” He was absolutely correct. Clinton hasn’t always kept her promises, but politics is a game of the long haul. Politics is a game where the seasoned vets must lead the young guns into winnable contests that yield short-term results and magnify long-term aspirations.

The single-payer health care system Clinton promoted as FLOTUS during the 1990s is one such measure.

When her push for the health care overhaul failed in the 1990s, Clinton did champion the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which cut the uninsured rate of American children by half. Today, millions of American children are covered under the program.

That is incremental change.

* * *

Although her decision-making as President Obama’s secretary of state has come under scrutiny – Benghazi coverups, private email servers,  interventionism in Libya – the narratives surrounding these “Hard Choices” were also created and replicated by right-wing members of Congress and the overtly conservative pundits anchoring Fox News.

The assaults from the Far Right have been strong, because after eight years in power as a U.S. senator, four years as secretary of state and 112 countries visited, she is as formidable an opponent as her husband was.

On the flip side, the biggest attacks coming from within her own party surround her close ties to Wall Street and the Big Money suppliers that fund her campaign, which is a mostly accurate assault: the Campaign Finance Institute calculated the majority of Clinton’s donations through the first month of the year hailed from donors giving the legal maximum, $2,700.

But the claim that she is not a “true progressive” is patently false” — Clinton voted the same way as Sanders 93 percent of the time.

While there are still 25 contests remaining in the primary battle with several upcoming states favorable to Sanders — including 546 delegates to be split in California alone — Clinton has a clearer path to victory in the general election.

And when she gets in, rather than swing for the fences or blow up the stadium altogether — she’ll more than likely do what she has to in order to clear the bases, knowing that it’s one contest in many.

Perhaps it is time for more open-minded liberals to consider her candidacy as the best possible one to achieve the goals they’ve set out to achieve since ’72.

Briefing is powered by GateHouse Media’s Center for News & Design. Visit our website at http://elections.gatehousemedia.com/national/todaystopics, or follow us on Twitter at @briefing_2016 and on Facebook at facebook.com/briefing2016.