Bill Clinton recently spoke to a crowd at a Hillary Clinton rally in Concord, New Hampshire. With news breaking of Bernie Sanders taking the lead in multiple polls in Iowa now, and growing his lead in New Hampshire—Bill decided to tread carefully. He stuck to familiar talking points regarding macroeconomics and healthcare.
“I want to begin by saying that I know there’s a hard fight here,” Clinton said on Wednesday, “and I know we’re running against one of your neighbors.” As if to imply that the geography of the situation is the cause of the polling deficit between Clinton and Sanders.
“We don’t need more gridlock in Washington,” he said. “We can’t afford to waste a year or two.”
His message is one of political pragmatism with a plea to moderately and incrementally move forward the progress that Obama has started.
He doesn’t want to start over with newer, bigger programs and risk losing an opportunity to grow the ones that we have.
That makes perfect sense. It is of course, somehow both political and pragmatic. However, the trouble is, it’s not what the people want and it is a message that is very much out of step with the political climate of 2016.
The Clinton camp seems to have decided that the rhetoric they were using to attack Bernie’s healthcare plan over the last few weeks has been counterproductive. He was surging in the polls as they were sitting aside and criticizing the plan in ways that only made them seem more off base and out of touch with the needs of the American people.
They have ditched that rhetoric in favor of Bill Clinton’s pragmatism and ease in discussing the plan. Clinton said he wouldn’t “want to comment on the merits” of the plan, just the “practical reality” of the matter.
“It’s a lot easier to go from 90 percent insured to 100 and control costs with executive action,” he said, “than it is to go from 0 to 100 with a bill that has to be passed with 60 votes in a Republican Senate to break the filibuster, when we had not a vote to spare to pass Obamacare in a Democratic Senate.”
Bill Clinton is simply echoing the sentiments of many Democrats currently working in favor of the establishment. There is a long list of political insiders, current members of congress, unpledged delegates and more who endorsed Hillary very early on in the race and are now finding themselves scrambling to get out and explain every practical reason why she is better than Bernie.
It is similar to the message that President Obama has recently touted in an interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush when he was asked if Bernie’s campaign could replicate Obama’s 2008 success:
“I think Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot and just letting loose,” Obama said. “I think Hillary came in with the both privilege and burden of being perceived as the front-runner.”
Obama, though not officially endorsing any candidate in the primary, said Sanders would need to expand his message to keep the momentum.
“I will say that the longer you go in the process, the more you’re going to have to pass a series of hurdles that the voters are going to put in front of you, because the one thing everybody understands is that with this job right here, you don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one thing,” he said.
Again, makes perfect sense. Still, these types of arguments are falling more and more on deaf ears outside of the establishment. These comments coming from insiders like Bill Clinton are far from malicious, but they can be damaging to the integrity of the Democratic Party if seen as out of step with younger voters and those now unwilling to comply with the establishment status quo. The American people feel disenfranchised and poorly represented, this is why the moderate message being pushed by Bill Clinton, while usually greatly sly in his deft persuasion, is simply outdated and ineffective.