One oddity of American political life is the voter who support Democratic candidates because he or she doesn’t believe their campaign rhetoric.
I encountered this in 1992 when I talked to a United Auto Workers leader who was working to elect Bill Clinton for President because he was convinced that Clinton didn’t mean what he said about the North American Free Trade Agreement.
True, the UAW guy said, Bill Clinton said he’s for NAFTA, but he also said he is for a lot of other things, such as treaty protection of labor and environmental rights, that would negate NAFTA. So in effect, his reasoning went, Clinton is really against NAFTA.
But Clinton betrayed him. He pushed NAFTA though, just as he said he would. The part he wasn’t serious about was the protection of the labor and environmental rights.
I saw the same thing among supporters of President Obama. Every time Obama would do something such as offering to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a budget-balancing deal, they would say this is something he “had to” do.
Really? “Had to”? Did somebody like the Luca Brazzi character in The Godfather put a pistol to his head and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse?
Now we have the same thing with Hillary Clinton, but with a twist. She is trying to steal Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’ thunder by talking about economic inequality, while signaling that she doesn’t really mean it to the Wall Street figures, who have made her rich by paying her six-figure fees to give speeches.
It will be interesting to see where Clinton comes down on the Trans Pacific Partnership. She historically has supported trade agreements and in her 2014 book called the TPP the “gold standard” for such agreements. Now she declines to take a clear stand.
A lot of the political commentary describes her “dilemma” over the TPP—the dilemma consisting of the politics of the TPP, not the merits of the agreement.
If she were to come out strongly against the TPP when her opposition might have some effect in defeating it, I would give her credit for a sincere change of heart. I don’t expect this to happen, but I would be pleased to be proved wrong. Otherwise I will view Clinton’s campaign rhetoric with the same skepticism that is being asked of her Wall Street supporters.
I don’t think this happens so much in the Republican Party because there is less of a disparity in the Republican Party between what’s said to the voters and to the financial backers.
Hillary Clinton Traces Friendly Path, Troubling Party by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman for the New York Times.
In Classic Clintonian Fashion, Dems Insult Their Own Voters by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.
Is Clinton Still Down With TPP? by Freedom Partners.