I've noted previously that I'm skeptical of Hillary Clinton as a progressive. In the six months since I wrote that, four other people threw their hats into the ring as candidates for the Democratic Party nomination including Bernie Sanders. Presently, Bernie is my preferred candidate as he best represents me on the issues I care about. Everywhere I look he continues to lead the pack as a progressive, liberal or whatever label you choose to apply.
Clinton's campaign is a juggernaut, with campaign money that dwarfs all competition and political endorsements from all over. Although a lot can happen between now and July, safe money continues to be on Hillary Clinton as the heir apparent. This is now her race to lose, which prompts another look at her as a politician and as a candidate for President of the United States. In the last six months I've discovered a few things about her, some of which surprised me and others that don't.
What I care about the most is not who slept with whom, what scandals may surround a politician or what dirt can be dug up on someone. No one is perfect, so I have to make allowances for the fact that my candidates won't be as well. If their misbehavior is relevant to the issues they claim to value then certainly I'm willing to cluck my tongue over the Family Values candidate caught having multiple affairs. On the other hand, if you spent years trying to dig up dirt on someone but investigations keep finding no wrongdoing then it's clear that what you're doing is engaging in a witch hunt. The email scandal is settled. All that remains is where Clinton stands on the issues.
Hillary Clinton on the issues is where I'm both surprised and not surprised. In both her voting record and her campaign platforms Hillary comes across very solidly as a liberal. In fact, when you compare her to Bernie she's closer to his position than any other Democratic candidate including Martin O'Malley and Jim Webb. I'm not going to bother with former Republican governor Lincoln Chaffee because he's not even on the radar. The only place where Hillary doesn't shine as a liberal is on military and foreign policy where she's one of the most hawkish candidates around.
There are, of course, still problems. First and foremost there's a strong movement for Anybody But Hillary which is popular among both Republicans and Democrats. Yes, Democrats. Do you think the Clintons could suffer through two decades of scandals and not have that taint stick in people's minds? She's untrusted because of her corporate connections, her history with Wall Street, her war-mongering, allegations of corruption and criminal behavior and so on and so forth. Clinton opponents have thrown everything at her in the hopes that something would stick, and for some people that's enough to bias their thinking. As I observed previously some of it is deserved, such as her relationship with special interests, but in this campaign she's come out with some credible proposals to combat those interests (author's note: this link is best viewed in privacy/incognito mode). People are still skeptical of her apparent change of heart on issues like Wall Street regulation and trade deals, and they should be. But the problem runs so deep that there are committed progressives who would normally vote for a Democratic nominee have pledged to vote third party rather than for Hillary Clinton.
The phrase for this is the Nirvana fallacy or "making best the enemy of good." So while I would rather see Bernie Sanders take the Democratic nomination and become the next President of the United States, I won't reject Hillary Clinton as the candidate who next best represents my interests. She promises to be more of a liberal and less of a centrist than Barack Obama has been, and that's still progress to me.