It is finally official. After months of speculation in the media as to whom she would choose as her running mate, Hillary Clinton has made her VP pick: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Kaine, a center-right Democrat is generally seen as a safe bet; someone who can appeal to independents and white males. However, this year, the electorate is demanding change, and Mrs. Clinton has been campaigning as a continuation. With Democratic Party unity and the potential of a Donald Trump presidency in the balance, the former Secretary of State has taken a big risk—which is indicative of her attitude towards progressives.
She has had enough. She wants independence from the left wing of the Democratic Party.
Throughout the primary, Mrs. Clinton has seemed caught off guard by the times, and the voraciousness of the progressive left. For the first few months of the primary the former Secretary hardly paid her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), any mind. Before she’d realized what had happened, the self-described democratic socialist had narrowed her lead to the point where was a viable candidate—capturing millennial voters by historic margins.
Along with his support came criticism of her. The unexpected resistance evidently led to a strong sense of indignation and persecution. Nowhere was this more evident than in her response to demands she release the transcripts of her paid speeches. The former Secretary declined on the grounds that such a request was unheard of, and that she would do so when every other candidate did so too.
This indignation boiled over into a strategy seemingly lifted right out of her husband’s playbook: triangulation. Mrs. Clinton sought to cast herself as a progressive, but also as the ‘reasonable’ choice running against stereotypical liberal naiveté and idealism.
In her Nevada victory speech, the former Secretary told millennials Sanders supporters, “[i]t can’t just be about what we can give you.” Former President Bill Clinton went so far as to say that young people would, if given the opportunity, “shoot every third person on Wall Street.”
But this approach only hurt her credibility because she tried to appeal to everyone, and the lengths she went to to appear reasonable involved dismissing and rebuking the very progressives she claimed to agree with. The former Secretary has a serious trust problem. According to Gallup, the words most associated with her name are “dishonest” and “liar.” Voters trust her even less than they do Donald Trump on issues like the economy.
The former Secretary’s VP choice will likely do little to help her situation as Senator Kaine is far from a progressive. In fact, recently, he has been lobbying for bank deregulation. As The Intercept reports:
The letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, signed by a bipartisan coalition of 16 Democrats and every Republican senator, asked that the consumer agency “carefully tailor its regulations” to exempt community banks and credit unions…While this seems benign, tailoring rules that exempt large classes of financial institutions leaves consumers vulnerable to deceptive practices. A rule of this type could allow community banks and credit unions to sell high-risk mortgages or personal loans without the disclosure and ability to pay rules in place across the industry.
This choice was bound to anger progressives, and give the impression that the former Secretary cares more about appealing to conservatives than the left wing of her own party. It will inevitably be seen as just another example of Mrs. Clinton saying one thing, but having her sincerity belied by the people she surrounds herself with—like how, after calling it “the gold standard” of trade agreements, she now says she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but her appointees to the Democratic Platform Committee blocked a proposal to condemn the trade agreement in the platform. Note: It is also worth mentioning that Mr. Kaine supports the TPP as well.
As soon as the Senator was announced as Clinton’s running mate another story broke about him taking advantage of Virginia’s state laws regarding accepting gifts. Kaine accepted $160,000 worth of personal gifts while serving in office.
With so much wrong with the pick, it is mind boggling how a politician as shrewd and intelligent as Hillary Clinton could have such terrible judgment as to choose as her running mate someone like Kaine—unless it was to make a point.
Mrs. Clinton seems to have no intention of playing the role of unifier—even now that she is secure in the knowledge that she will be the next Democratic nominee for the presidency. She just cannot stop herself from proverbially rubbing the left’s nose in the fact that she won.
Recently, the former Secretary appeared on PBS and denied that Senator Bernie Sanders had any effect on her campaign and the Democratic Party as a whole—specifically that he moved either to the left. She went on to declare frankly that the Democrats were a “center-left” party, further making clear her point: progressives cannot bend her.
Normally, presidential candidates tack to the middle in the general election, but this year is unique. Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, was the favorite among independent voters for his unabashed progressivism. Mrs. Clinton’s decision to select Kaine—far from being a safe choice—seems personal. She does not want to be beholden to the progressive wing of her party. That she would appear to make such a gamble at a time when she and Donald Trump are a mere 2.7 points apart according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, is troubling to say the least. Further compounding the danger is the new DNC email leak that has progressives up in arms about the party’s favoritism towards her.
At this point, it seems clear that Clinton and the left have irreconcilable differences.