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Moulitsas: Clinton in place to win

Moulitsas: Clinton in place to win
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It is conventional wisdom that after a contested party primary, victors “pivot to the center.” The idea, of course, is that candidates who have to appeal to their partisan bases to win the primary must change to attract a broader electorate in the general election. 

That’s not happening in this year’s presidential race. 

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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE isn’t pivoting because that would imply he has a plan and a strategy to achieve his aims. The reality, of course, is that there is nothing of the sort. He says and does what he wants, when he wants, without two thoughts as to its impact on the race. That sort of reckless narcissism worked great with conservative primary voters, but it’s already proving disastrous in the general. So much so, in fact, that establishment Republicans continue to desperately cast about for a way to replace him on the ballot. 

But there hasn’t been any pivot on Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump asks Biden to give Putin his 'warmest regards' Huma Abedin announces book deal Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records MORE’s part either as she moves toward November. 

One of the most pervasive criticisms from the left has been that Clinton will do and say anything to win but can’t be trusted to follow through once elected. They say it doesn’t matter what she promised in the primary, whether a vow to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), to expand Social Security benefits or to play hardball with Wall Street. All those promises were irrelevant, went the argument, because no one on the left can trust Clinton, who would triangulate rightward after the primary.

Yet here we are, with the primary behind us, and Clinton hasn’t reversed on those issues. Rather, she has doubled down on them. 

In her seminal speech on the economy last week, the former secretary of State reiterated support for key liberal priorities. “[Trump] would rig the economy for Wall Street again. That will not happen on my watch, I can guarantee you. I would veto any effort to weaken those reforms. I will defend and strengthen them both for the big banks and shadow banking system, and I will vigorously enforce the law because we can’t ever let Wall Street wreck Main Street again.” All the while, Clinton reiterated support for expanding Social Security and blocking the TPP trade deal.

In additional speeches over the last few weeks, she has strongly supported expanded abortion rights: “Let’s repeal laws like the Hyde Amendment that make it nearly impossible ... for low-income women, disproportionately women of color, to exercise their full reproductive rights.” On guns, she is unequivocal: “We have to make it harder for people who should not have those weapons of war.”

While Trump’s refusal to shift puts him outside the American mainstream, and polling reflects this, the fact is that Clinton’s steadfastness represents not just good policy but good politics. Strong majorities of the American public support abortion rights, including 60 percent of independents, according to Pew Research’s latest data. The latest numbers from CNN find that by a margin of 55 percent to 42 percent, Americans favor stricter gun laws, with upward of 85 percent supporting greater purchasing restrictions on felons, the mentally ill, and those on the terrorist watchlist. And Americans are skeptical of trade deals by a two-thirds majority, according to multiple recent polls, from CBS/The New York Times to Bloomberg to ABC News/The Washington Post. 

That’s the advantage of representing the party that reflects the American mainstream — you don’t have to pivot anywhere when you’re right in the middle of public opinion.

 

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.