I am not suggesting that Clinton should run a mere throwback campaign. Instead she should apply her instincts to the present political climate. The cornerstone of her campaign could be a promise to crack down on perpetrators of sexual assault, especially against children. She could promise, among other things, to bring back the death penalty for rapists. She could also come out hard against pornography, the sexualization of women in media, and the gender pay gap. She could hold Trump-style rallies where abusers were ritually shamed, where the chants are turned against the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with promises to “Lock him up!” The latent power of #MeToo could be the most transformative force in American politics if harnessed by the right person.
Instead of allowing her campaign to be run like a Refinery29 editorial meeting, Clinton could argue that the Democrats cannot just be the party of avocado IPA-sipping 20-something brocialist layabouts. She could employ against her primary opponents the same talking points she used against Obama in 2007 — namely that he lacked support among “hard-working Americans, white Americans.” She could also, perhaps uniquely among Democrats with 2020 ambitions, speak with something approaching credibility about Russia, even going so far as to claim that Obama failed the country by leaving us open to election interference. She would be, as she was in 2016, the candidate of Wall Street, but she would also be the candidate of common sense, of toughness, of non-whining, of achievement, appealing to the suburbs with caricatures of Trump’s base as a bunch of toothless entitled drug-addicted hicks the same way she slandered African-Americans in the ’90s with her contemptuous remarks about those who have “known nothing but dependency all their lives.”