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John Nichols John Nichols Syndicate content RSS Feed Breaking news and analysis of politics, the economy and activism. Hillary Clinton’s Soft Populism Is Not Enough


John Nichols John Nichols Syndicate content RSS Feed Breaking news and analysis of politics, the economy and activism. Hillary Clinton’s Soft Populism Is Not Enough

John Nichols

As she struggled to keep her 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination alive, Hillary Clinton took a turn toward economic populism. It helped; after a series of setbacks in early caucus and primary states, Clinton’s abandonment of frontrunner caution and embrace of “I'm in this race to fight for you” rhetoric played a significant role in securing her big wins in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.


OK, I never hesitate to criticize the headlines used by the CD staff but this one has left me without words. Is anyone paying attention?

As it is, this is just another of the author’s phony reviews of the Dems vs republicans show that has been running in the US media for years. It’s an exercise in stating the obvious. Nichols does make a few legitimate points but many others have made the same observations.



Nichols appears to harbor the hope that Hillary can be moved away from her usual pro-corporate outlook if progressives keep organizing in primary states. How realistic is that, considering her age and lifetime of accommodation to the rich and powerful? If you are going to support her as the lesser evil, which is what Senators Sanders Warren will do soon enough, then you may as well as stop expecting Hillary Clinton to be anything other than what she has been for these past many decades. Any organizing should be for the Green Party, as far as I’m concerned. They will not win this time but the experiences of Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece offer examples, however remote, of what can happen in a crisis when a small party exists as an alternative to the failures of traditional political groupings.


We’very heard it all before from the Clintons. Bill had a populist theme in 92.“Putting People first” None of the promises made were kept. Expect the same from the smart but triangulating Hillary. Why she has any credibility is beyond me. Why she is the Democratic nominee is not so hard to understand if you see the Democratic party in its true corporate light… Sure Hillary lies, they all do and they all follow the will of their masters, even as they entice voters with populist themes. I saw Hillary’s announcement. Looks like she will be an excellent liar, right tone, vague on specifics. I am just like you except I’m running for President I’m on your side. Who believes it? Answer:the stupid, ignorant and gullible American voter. What is more disgusting, Hillary’s lies or the publics ability to swallow them? I think it’s the later.


I do not have to read this article to confirm my own feelings. Progressives will get shite from Hillary ! The powers that be…or the elites, have already decided that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States of America. You can take that to the bank.

They, the elites are not stupid. They will not allow any of these retarded rightwing crazies to lead this country into an immediate and devastating mess. The elite had rather do it more gently and with more stealth and come at us sideways.
I will not vote for Hillary or anyone else. I am tired of voting for the lesser of the two evils. She will talk a Populist agenda and do just as she has done before. She is a war monger and will do as she is order by those who got her elected ….the Military Industrial Complex. War makes lots and lots of money for some and they do not care what happens to others.

Hillary and her sidekick Bill in their first Presidential crowning totally devastated the welfare system that harmed so many. This made for the best Republicans agenda ever enacted and put into law and unashamedly called a Democratic triumph. This is a psychopath’s dream and for the rest of us just a nightmare.

If evil is to take overcome my country………then so be it and maybe the people will finally get off their arses and do the revolution-thing. Even if it is a bloody one, things will not get any better with this bloody voting shite. I fear I will not live enough to see any positive come out of these elections. Do you hear that you Democratic elite?

Take the backlash against women and it is just getting started and where is Hillary on this? Nowhere… it seems. No one is doing anything about it or paying attention. As an example….they are and have been sending women to jail for losing their fetuses. These are fetuses, blobs of blood and tissue…. not “babies”.
These people/men/are jackasses.! Trying get Hillary elected as President will drive them totally nuts. BRING IT ON!!!

P.S. Hey ! Hillary…I know you read Common Dreams. This is the last bastion of where one can speak freely….this is what your American public thinks of you. Some of us have very good memories.


As long as “party” has no real meaning, no real platform, but is merely an empty vessel left to the candidates to fill in the planks, at their whim, elections will remain a fools errand. Ms. Hillary, a lady in her seventh decade, has to decide what she stands for, what she will run on? No core principles or beliefs? At this stage in her career, and with such enormous public exposure it is obvious what her lifelong political values are. The record is clear, DLC, Third Way, and Blue Dog, that’s Hillary. No, the PR people with due diligence will craft a “new” Hillary, a Populist Hillary, just as they craft new detergents by putting a label of “new” on them and changing the package.

She kept Vickie Nuland on, promoted her, the mess is history. And of course the chuckling Hillary.


This article seems to be about Hillary getting her campaign lies in order. She is a shameful sham as a populist candidate. And I don’t see why, with as many people as live in this country, we need another Bush or Clinton in the White House.


The line about the “kids in Appalachia having the same opportunities as granddaughter Charlotte” would be especially laughable if it wasn’t so sinister.


Hello! I am a pundit and my ultimate loyalties are to the Democratic Party!

Now, let me convince all you on the left that I am one of you by listing several domestic issues that I think progressives think are vital. (Heavens forbid I might address the roots causes of capitalism or address the ongoing American Imperial Project.)

I will be engaged in this activity of critiquing Hillary from what I think is the far left through out the primary season. My hope is that by the time Hillary (God, isn’t she a great politician?) gets the nomination you on the left will trust me not only as one of you but as a spokesperson. That way when I tell you then that you MUST support her because the Republicans are bat shit crazy and she is soooo much better than them, you will be totally hoodwinked.

You may have noticed I slipped a little of that into my article even now as supposedly I am saying Hilary isn’t radical enough. Wasn’t I clever to paint her as this savvy politician and throw in a few examples of how bat shit crazy the Republicans are?


Fact-free hyperbole like suggesting the Clintons have never done anything for the middle class and never kept any progressive promises is the type of hysterical extremism that makes it easy to tune out the left, to the detriment of the country. For some reason, some have a very difficult time making nuanced statements that acknowledge the Clintons’ liberalism while also pointing out their mistakes and stating that Hillary, like all politicians, should be pushed to do more.

This kind of irrational blather is typical of the right, but progressives apparently want to be just as silly and embarrassing. Repealing Glass-Stegall was a major mistake that Hillary should be pushed to reverse. The lack of effective regulatory controls to protect workers from the excesses of free trade is also something liberals should be pushing for.

But I’m going to partake in the selective memory of progressives who like the igmore the progressive compromises and outright victories of the first Clinton administration. DADT was a progressive incremental change that allowed gays not to be thrown out of the military completely based on rumors and innuendo. Ditto DOMA, which prevented a federal marriage amendment which then have veto-proof support in the Senate. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program was the biggest expansion of healthcare between Medicare and Obamacare. Clinton lost Congress in 1994 because he raised taxes on the rich; the deciding sacrificial vote was cast by Marjorie Margoles-Mezvinsky, their future son-in-law’s mother. Under pressure from her conservative distruct, Margoles was planning to vote against that budget until the Clintons intervened. She lost her seat because of it and the Democrats lost Congress, but the country and progressives gained: that budget ushered in the longest era of uninterrupted prosperity in US history, one that lifted millions out of poverty. And we’re supposed to pooh-pooh the Clintons because they aren’t perfect? Pfft.

Hillary brokered the Israel-Hamas ceasefire that prevented a 2nd Gaza War and saw peace between the two during her tenure. She was responsible for making women’s and gay rights official US international humanitarian policy. She created the State Dept initiatives to 1) include energy independence in the US national security portfolio and to 2) combat digital terrorism, recognizing Bush admin neglect. She presciently warned Republicans that cutting funds for embassy security would put diplomats at risk.

As a private lawyer, Hillary chaired the American Bar Association group that instituted gender bias reforms in the profession. As First Lady of the US, she was the force behind worldwide women’s rights efforts, expansion of poor children’s health insurance, and adoption reform to give unwanted kids homes.

As a Senator, she fought the Bush tax cuts for the rich. As First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary made it the first state to embrace early childhood education. She got Congress to triple the budget of Legal Services to aid the poor when she ran the program, successfully fighting Reagan’s attempts to cut it.

No one to Hillary’s right or left has worked harder for the vulnerable. Does she have flaws? Yes, she’s human. She is also the best candidate progressives have had in a while, but maybe you have to be a real progressive to notice.

Hillary’s angry critics have nothing besides bitter negativity, paranoid scandalmongering, and doom-and-gloom pessimism. She says she wants to connect directly with everyday Americans, to ensure economic recovery does not leave the poor and middle class behind, and to protect equality for all regardless of race, gender, orientation, or belief. If she keeps looking forward like this, America will elect her.


This comment is essentially a compendium of misrepresentations, fabrications, omissions, and even a few bare faced lies regarding all Hillary’s machinations since that first fiasco that was her First Lady stab at health care reform in the US. What world do you live in that you can regorge such pure codswallop as “(the) budget ushered in the longest era of uninterrupted prosperity in US history, one that lifted millions out of poverty”? This is part of the fairy tails that have been foisted on the gullible and ill informed US public since the Republican/DINO era began with the ascendency of the “Grim Gipper” in 1980.


"Those are the basics—along with commitments to expand Social Security, address climate change and reduce the influence of corporate interests on our politics and governance. To achieve baseline credibility as a contender, not just for the nomination but for the presidency, Clinton must offer specifics on all of these issues. No one should presume she will do this on her own. This is why progressive groups such as National People’s Action and the Campaign for America’s Future are arguing that a detailed “populist agenda” is essential to victory. This is why the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has launched a “Ready for Boldness” campaign—playing off the “Ready for Hillary” message of Clinton’s early supporters—with support from US Senators Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Jeff Merkley, and Sheldon Whitehouse; former US Senators Tom Harkin and Ted Kaufman and hundreds of activists in Iowa and New Hampshire. PCCC co-founder Adam Green is certainly right when he says that, “It’s a great general election strategy to embrace these economic populism issues that are wildly popular across the political spectrum.”

Promise them anything… but just give them crumbs. The new Palace Versailles (held by 1% elite members, everywhere) is well-guarded.


It’s American dynasty. Short of a royal family, our nation is “treated” to either a Bush or a Clinton. Who better knows how to accommodate the very rich corporate overlords and who, like Mafia Consiglieres know more keenly where all the bodies are buried? Plus now there’s 24/7 surveillance for finding out dirty secrets about virtually anyone including any so bold as to stand up EFFECTIVELY to the machine that poses as Free Elections but has the fix IN.

You give the equally (if not more so) disgusting Repub cartel candidates a pass; and fall back on that #1 repeated meme found in these threads–blame the voters. Presuming that you have a mind to wrap around a functioning brain it should be patently clear that regardless of what voters do, someone pre-vetted to pose as contender for Team A and/or Team B WILL win. THAT is how control works and it is The People who are under control, and therefore hardly the ones calling the shots.


You obviously haven’t read much on how POWER (a/k/a the Deep State) operates.


Hillary Clinton will say and do whatever she thinks is good for Hillary Clinton. Of course, why a sweet lil ole gramma who, by the way, is poor and has no money left, would want to be POTUS is beyond me. Folks, when is the last time you saw tigers change their stripes…or leopards change their spots (choose your favorite cliche)?


“I’m in this race to fight for you.” Yeah, right! She’s in this campaign seeking the ultimate in “power”, the president of the United States. Lest we forget, Hillary the hawk is in this race for herself and will be fighting for one thing and one think alone: money, big money from her “friends” in the military industrial/security complex, in the global corporatist oligarchy, on Wall Street, and in the too-big-to-jail banks! This lifelong voting Democrat is looking for someone else to vote for. :smile:


Writing as a political refugee from Blair’s Britain and their part in the illegal and amoral invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, I do feel that non-Americans have a legitimate interest (thus a right to comment) in US politics because of the Hellish effect of US Foreign Policy throughout the planet. I remember clearly JFK’s campaign for Presidential election just as I recall his assassination some 1,000 days later. It may have taken my 52 years to try and understand the significance of the 35th President, but at least I am pretty confident that at last I now approach an understanding. To all citizens throughout the world who wish to understand US politics, there is only 1 book that you need to read: James Douglass “JFK & The Unspeakable. Why he died and why it matters”.
All this money and circus that goes into this charade of electing a president is now just a distraction designed to deceive the people that they live in a Democracy and hides from view that Wall Street and the MIC rule supreme. Any President foolish enough to think that he/she is in charge will meet the same fate as JFK, MLK and RFK. God Bless America.


IMO, any citizen of the planet has a right to express him /herself about Amerika’s imperialistic mien or anything else about this country. For one thing, I’ve long been of the opinion that news sources outside this country run more truthful reports and analyses that can usually be found inside the country (with all due respect to the few owners of all MSM). There is not a democracy here. There is truth in neither campaigning nor in reporting-analyses. There is increasing corporatocracy. There is increasing fascism. There is increasing militarization of police. The list is too long to cite…suffice it to say, with greedy and short-sighted policy makers and their puppeteers in the driver’s seat, this country is screwed…and so is the planet.


ToniW Thanks for your courtesy in supporting my right to comment. All is not as bleak as it seems because, thanks to the internet, we do have alternative sources of propaganda and can shop around to find that which most fits our own prejudices ;-). Also, the fact that we can have free and frank discussion is also a plus (unless of course its a trap and the drones are already hovering above my house…). I do think that we have the ability to see that the Emperor is naked - even though we do not know how to defeat him. Knowledge is Power and a good first step. “Even the journey of 1,000 miles begins with one small step.”


I didn’t quite read it that way, Rita. What’s disallowed are “personal attacks”, which to me at least seems different to attacking the individual’s political stance.

Me, I can’t see how Nichols’s unabashed shilling for Hillary merits any make-nice at all. It’s repulsive, and great blame to him for it.