It’s not an especially well-kept secret that the Democratic Party’s left-wing is… suspicious of Hillary Clinton’s progressive bona fides. It is a testament to the party’s leftward drift that Hillary Clinton represented the Democratic Party’s “liberal wing” in 2006 but is perceived as unreliably conservative by modern progressive standards.
But Democrats have nowhere to look ahead of 2016 but toward Brooklyn and Hillary. Between Team Clinton’s aggression toward anything even remotely resembling a viable primary challenge and the perception that the presidency is her due, Hillary Clinton has effectively sown up the nomination before she has even officially announced a campaign. That has not stopped left-wing voices like Vox.com’s Ezra Klein and The Boston Globe editorial board from seeking out some Democrat, any Democrat, that could possibly present an effective challenge to Clinton’s dominance.
Even Hillary Clinton’s former Democratic Senate colleagues are sending thinly veiled shots across her bow. On Tuesday, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid joined 5,000 other Democratic lawmakers and party officials who signed a Progressive Change Campaign Committee pledge demanding “boldness” from the party’s eventual 2016 nominee. In lieu of an effective primary challenge, which does not appear to be materializing, Democrats have taken to simply demanding that Clinton pay heed to Democratic discontent.
The PCCC’s “Ready for Boldness” campaign (an unsubtle play on the Clinton draft movement’s “Ready for Hillary” slogan) is aimed at ensuring that “the eventual Democratic presidential nominee supports policies such as expanding Social Security retirement benefits, breaking up big banks and debt-free higher education,” according to Reuters.
“Being bold is the only way I’ve ever known how to win,” Reid said in a statement.
The PCCC has trained volunteers in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, who will attend town halls and campaign events to press Democratic candidates about where they stand on key progressive issues.
Clinton has yet to stake out where she will stand on domestic and economic policies. PCCC co-founder Adam Green says the push will show Clinton that if she adopts populist stances, she can harness the energy from the progressive wing of the party that helped elect current President Barack Obama to two terms.
Democratic anxiety is palpable. Given that Clinton’s popularity ratings are sinking fast as scandal after scandal engulfs her proto-campaign, they have good reason to be nervous. “More than two years ago, two-thirds of Americans had a favorable opinion of the former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady. Today, she’s at 49 percent,” The Kansas City Star’s Steve Kraske wrote, citing a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. “Even worse, her unfavorable total stands at 46 percent.”
For a politician with universal name recognition, that’s not a promising start to what promises to be a grueling presidential election cycle.