The GOP defections to Team Hillary were already well underway by the time of last week’s Democratic National Convention, which featured endorsement speeches from billionaire ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg and other Republicans.
Since then Hewlett-Packard executive and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has come out for Clinton. So has Republican-leaning hedge fund billionaire Seth Karman and Republican Congressman Richard Hanna. A CNN poll showed that nearly one in four self-identified conservative voters said they would support Clinton over Trump.
From a tactical point of view, it makes sense for Clinton to welcome their support. But it poses a dangerous temptation for her – especially when, as is the case with Bloomberg, Whitman, and Klarman, it presumably comes with buckets full of campaign cash. She may see this support as a mandate to form something like a unity government with Republicans, a call to tack right toward the failed “centrism” and “bipartisanship” of the past several decades.
That would be a tragic error, but it would it follow a well-worn groove in recent American politics.
“Bipartisanship,” in this context, is the notion that government works best when corporate-backed politicians from both parties get together behind closed doors and decide what’s best for the country. The “bipartisan” ideology gave rise to Washington’s long obsession with deficit reduction at the expense of more pressing concerns. It nearly led to a cut in Social Security benefits, which would have been disastrous for millions of seniors, disabled people, and children. It is responsible for the government spending cuts that, as economist Robert Scott explains, have been largely responsible for the weakness and slow pace of our current recovery.
As my e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey pointed out, appeasing Republicans is not a “temptation” for Hillary Clinton. It is her default position. It is what she will do unless pressured to do otherwise.
The difference between an establishment Democrat such as Clinton and an establishment Republican such as Jeb Bush or Paul Ryan is that the Democrat depends on the votes of working people and therefore can be pressured to vote in their interests, provided this doesn’t threaten their wealthy donors, whereas the Republican will not vote in their interests in any case.
The pressure on Clinton would have to be unrelenting and uncompromising, and even then there is no certainty it would work.
As Republicans Defect, Will Clinton Be Tempted to Tack Right? by Richard Eskow for Campaign for American’s Future.