The first 100 hours of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Roger Stone invokes gag order in new fundraiser MORE’s campaign featured many Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise MORE-style populist themes – a positive sign of the direction she’s inclined to take her campaign. As she continues down this populist path, the main question Americans will be asking is: Will her policy specifics go big or go small?

Clinton pleasantly surprised many everyday Americans – including many progressives – when she declared in her presidential campaign launch, “The deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.”


Political observers quickly acknowledged this tip-of-the-hat to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whose fundamental governing premise is that “the game is rigged in favor of those who have money and who have power.”

In her first campaign event in Iowa, Clinton surprised people again by declaring, “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system, and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if it takes a constitutional amendment.”

This was notable because systemic solutions to root problems – from fixing our broken democracy to fixing the systemic risks on Wall Street – often take a back seat to symptoms that are more fleeting-but-apparent in people’s daily lives. Clinton’s naming campaign finance reform as one of her four main issue buckets, plus her embrace of a constitutional amendment, could indicate an unprecedented level of commitment to this issue by a presidential candidate.

In Iowa, Clinton also went beyond President Obama’s proposal of free tuition at community colleges, embracing it and adding that we need to address “all these other costs” felt by students and families when it comes to college in America.

Rounding out her first 100 hours, Clinton criticized excessive CEO pay and for-profit  colleges, praised Warren’s work against Wall Street lobbyists, and declared “the work of taming Wall Street’s irresponsible risk-taking and reforming our financial system is far from finished.”

These first 100 hours are a positive sign that Clinton and her campaign recognize the growing economic populist wave in America – and want to ride that wave instead of get hit by it. It’s also an initial repudiation of forces on the margins of the Democratic Party who line their pockets with corporate money and then advise Democrats to shun winning issues that challenge corporate power.

Clinton seems to get that populist ideas inspire Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters. They even inspire Jon Stewart, who recently declared the “Warren wing” of American politics is “growing.”

While populist rhetoric is a great start, Clinton’s policy specifics will determine her success in 2016. On most issues, the debate inside the Clinton campaign and across the nation will not be about going left versus right – but rather going big versus small.

Americans want Democrats to fight for big, bold, economic populist ideas like a national goal of debt-free college, expanding Social Security benefits, creating millions of clean-energy jobs, breaking up “too big to fail” Wall Street banks, a modern system of publicly financed campaigns (in addition to a constitutional amendment), and wage increases that allow workers to share in the economic prosperity they help create. 5,000 Democratic leaders recently signed our “Ready For Boldness” statement calling for these priorities.

Polling for the Progressive Change Institute by GBA Strategies, a leading Democratic polling firm, shows many of these ideas are wildly popular across the partisan spectrum – and motivate Democrats who were not inspired to show up in 2014. Going big on economic populism is a winning general election strategy.

Similar to her embrace of structural issues, the structure of Clinton’s economic team matters. She can show Americans that her policies on vital economic issues will not be derived from a bunch of Wall Street voices that have consistently been wrong or skewed by self-interest. Nobel-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman should not just be occasionally listened to – they should be central voices at the table. Others like Sheila Bair, Christina Romer, Heather McGhee, Dean Baker, Simon Johnson, Lawrence Mishel, and Damon Silvers would also be seen as a breath of fresh air.

If there’s a competitive Democratic primary, Americans would benefit from a race to the top – with Clinton and others competing to have the biggest and boldest ideas on economic issues. It’s encouraging that former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has already embraced expanding Social Security benefits, Wall Street reforms like Glass-Steagall, and true accountability when Wall Street breaks the law. Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise MORE (I-Vt.) is consistently bold on economic issues, and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) embraced many populist ideas as a senator. Whichever Democrat won a race to the top on economic populism issues would enter the general election positioned to win – and to govern.

Americans are ready for boldness. Hillary Clinton seems ready for economic populism on many issues. Will she go big and bold? We’ll find out.

Green is co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.