Politico Senior Writer Todd S. Purdum writes: “With Hillary Clinton’s loss, Democrats are burying a once-winning way of politics.”
By 2016, spurred by anger at Wall Street, and at Washington gridlock and business as usual, the Democratic Party had moved well to the left of the one Bill Clinton had inherited in 1992. And while Hillary Clinton recognized the change intellectually, she seemed unable to catch up to the practical realities of its political implications for her campaign. She embraced bold approaches on hot-button issues like immigration and gun control that would have been shocking for a Democrat in her husband’s day, and accepted what was arguably the most liberal Democratic Party platform in history, but that never seemed to be enough to satisfy younger voters, especially. “People thought she’d been conceived in Goldman Sachs’ trading desk,” says one veteran Clinton aide, noting the irony that this was millennial voters’ jaded view of a woman often seen in the 1990s as reflexively more liberal than her husband.
“Part of the problem is that there have just been lots and lots of changes in America in the past 25 years,” says Elaine Kamarck, who was a senior domestic policy adviser in Bill Clinton’s White House and is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “There were just a lot of cultural issues that were relevant for Bill that were gone by the time Hillary’s campaign came along, because by and large they’d been resolved or defused.”
Whatever the fate of Clintonism, the Democratic Party seems ready to move on; in a poll last week, 62 percent of Democrats and independents said they didn’t want Hillary Clinton to run again in 2020, a possibility that seems hard to fathom in any case. Fiery populists like Elizabeth Warren and Keith Ellison are vying to be the face of the opposition to Trump, whose early moves are already radicalizing Democrats to a degree unimaginable in the Clinton world of 1992, or even 1999.
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