The next election is 20 months away but Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is already sharpening her class-warfare guillotine in order to rev up her party’s far-left voting base.
The wealthy former U.S. senator and secretary of state reportedly railed against the rich in a recent closed-door event. Presenting a chart that purported to show how wages have skyrocketed for the most affluent Americans, Mrs. Clinton sounded like Madame Defarge, the Dickensian character who enthusiastically knitted shrouds for the rich and privileged victims of the French Revolution.
Pointing to the part of the chart showing the wage increases, Mrs. Clinton said the economy required not just more redistribution of wealth but a “toppling” of the wealthiest 1 percent. The New York Times reports that this “toppling” will take the form of “proposals for changes in the tax code as a way of also investing in education, infrastructure and communities.”
We’ve seen this kind of thing before. Some might call it classic Clintonian triangulation. Both former President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton are ideologically fluid, hovering somewhere on the left side of the political spectrum. When they feel threatened they typically move to the center. When the crisis subsides, they often start inching back toward the failed leftist policies they really prefer.
The relentless news cycle and left-wing pressure groups such as MoveOn.org’s advocacy wing are trying to get Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to challenge her for the nomination. They seem to be succeeding in pushing Mrs. Clinton way over to the far left so-called progressive fringes of the Democratic Party. (This month’s edition of Capital Research Center’s newsletter, Organization Trends, explores how political activists are trying to make Mrs. Clinton bow to their will by promoting Mrs. Warren’s speculative candidacy.)
Since she launched her campaign on YouTube last month — it seems longer ago, doesn’t it? — Mrs. Clinton has lurched so dramatically to the left that it is far from clear if she will even be able to credibly claim to be a centrist if her candidacy survives until Election Day. Americans seem to be growing tired of the constant class warfare of the Obama administration, so this policy realignment does not bode well for the former first lady.
Moreover, Mrs. Clinton has been battered in recent weeks over revelations that her family’s tax-exempt charity accepted huge, multimillion-dollar “donations” from foreign governments hoping to stay in her good graces should she make it to the Oval Office in January 2017. Americans have been appalled by news that the very high-profile Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation is a massive ATM not just for governments overseas but also for the big corporations that the Occupy Wall Street bloc in the Democratic Party despises.
The ongoing email scandal doesn’t help Mrs. Clinton, either. In the face of a congressional subpoena, she admitted destroying more than 30,000 government-owned emails on her private Internet server. Did the emails detail influence-peddling deals? Mrs. Clinton’s spoliation of the evidence may prevent Americans from ever knowing the truth.
None of this skullduggery sits well with left-wing purists at MoveOn.org Civic Action, Democracy for America (former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s political action committee) and the ACORN-founded Working Families Party, which is active in about a dozen states, including New York. These three important groups are all aggressively trying to spark a candidacy by the extreme-left Mrs. Warren. They view Mrs. Clinton as a sellout who, after years of public service, is far too close to Wall Street, too hawkish and too far removed from left-wing priorities.
Mrs. Warren has said over and over that she doesn’t want to run — no doubt awed and intimidated by the organizing and fundraising power of the Clinton machine — but these hardcore liberal groups won’t take no for an answer. Their nonstop cheerleading seems to be successfully steering the Clinton campaign to the port side.
MoveOn.org Civic Action’s 35-year-old executive director, Anna Galland, runs her formidable, decentralized organization from the liberal mecca of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The top objective of our campaign that we have been explicit about from the beginning is that this is an earnest effort to get [Mrs. Warren] into the race,” said Ms. Galland, who got a taste of politics in her student days at Brown University. The group says it has placed operatives in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, enlisted more than 300,000 supporters, and hosted hundreds of house-party training sessions for activists. The idea is to show Mrs. Warren that a political machine is at her disposal if she throws her hat in the ring.
Ms. Galland’s Internet-savvy group, which helped to push President Obama past the finish line in 2008, has been saturation-bombing its millions of members nationwide with emails to get them involved in the Draft Warren movement.
A huge get-out-the-vote army led by MoveOn.org would be a major asset for Mrs. Warren, who is arguably farther left than Mr. Obama, in a primary against Mrs. Clinton. The senator supports single-payer health care, aggressive wealth redistribution, student-loan debt forgiveness, a drastic curtailment of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and the radical restriction of the fossil-fuel industry.
Mrs. Warren is a folk hero of the left. Michael Moore immortalized the blunt-talking, anti-corporate crusader in his 2009 agitprop flick, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” At the time a government watchdog monitoring corporate bailout money, she famously declared that the system was so Byzantine and crooked that she had no idea where much of the taxpayer funding had gone.
This is the movie in which Mr. Moore declares, “Capitalism is an evil and you cannot regulate evil.”
Apparently, Mrs. Clinton has absorbed the central message of the film.
• Terrence Scanlon, former chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Commission, is president of the Capital Research Center.