A while ago, I described why I’m hesitant about Clinton as the Democratic nominee:
Let me state right out that Clinton would be a better president than any of the Republicans on offer (though that could be construed as damning with faint praise). But what has frustrated me about being a Democrat since Bill Clinton’s presidency is that rank-and-file Democrats have had to fight like hell against the putative leaders of our party just to prevent things from getting worse…
I doubt Sanders will be the nominee, but a strong Sanders candidacy forces Clinton to lay down some real markers–and given her long history with ‘New Democrats’, I don’t trust her to not sell out the rank-and-file Democrats (just this week, we learned about Clinton’s successful effort to change forms at the State Department from “parent 1 and 2” to “mother” and father” because she was afraid of receiving criticism from Sarah Palin).
…if he [Sanders] did win, we wouldn’t have to defend the core programs of the Democratic Party from its supposed leadership.
Andy O’Hehir makes a similar point (boldface mine):
Which Hillary Clinton will we get, as the presumptive Democratic nominee and as the 45th president of the United States? The humane, reasonable and pragmatic leader who showed up on TV the other night, or the opinion-poll weathervane, foreign policy hawk and shameless Wall Street tool? One Clinton seems to promise a return to effective White House leadership and legislative compromise, with less high-flown rhetoric than the Obama years but greater transparency and more tangible accomplishments. The other suggests a hardened imperial presidency with a friendly female face, where the realm of political reality is defined by neoliberal economics, the Sauron-like reach of the national security state and the global tides of investment capital backed by American military power.
Hillary Clinton’s most formidable opponent on the path to becoming the first female American head of state – a development that will occur embarrassingly late in history, I have to say, after Britain and Germany and Israel and India and Pakistan and Moldova and Senegal, for the love of Christ – is Hillary Clinton. I don’t mean that metaphorically. The monstrous caricature of Hillary Clinton created by her enemies on the right, and to a lesser extent the one created by her enemies on the left, both stand in her way, their bloody fangs bared. So too, and far more significantly, does the reality that has fueled the enduring stereotype that Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted: Her actual record as an endlessly calculating policymaker and political operative whose core ideology has never been clear….
How do we understand the relationship between those two Hillarys, between the A-student analyst and the one who flunks out on actual policy changes that might begin to alter the dark dynamics of money and power in American society? Can we reconcile their areas of overlap and apparent contradiction? Is the first persona a cynical ruse, meant to dupe the gullible Democratic electorate one more time, like Lucy Van Pelt with that football? Does the second persona reflect an understanding that in our disordered nation realpolitik and Machiavellian maneuvering are the only possible ways to get anything done, and the fact that Clinton is too shrewd to make promises she can’t keep?
Too often, commentators (professional or amateur) imagine that a particular politician will be the politician they would like him or her to be, not the one he or she actually is. This isn’t an issue of ‘authenticity’ but trust. And after being burned for over two decades by Democrats who sell out the rank-and-file, I’m not in the mood to take that risk when, overall (though not on every issue), there’s a better alternative.