No We Can’t: Hillary Clinton Wants You To Accept That Nothing Will Ever Change

Clinton's recent cynical attacks on Bernie Sanders for being a starry-eyed idealist who can't get anything done hardly sound progressive.

With Vermont Senator and Larry David impersonator Bernie Sanders widening his lead in New Hampshire and pulling ahead in Iowa, former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton has gone on the attack. She used Sunday night’s nationally broadcast debate to hammer Sanders on his supposed coziness with the gun lobby and lack of foreign policy experience. Meanwhile, she’s had her surrogates hit the campaign trail to deliver shots at the democratic socialist.

However, in the past few days, and specifically since Sanders has released his health care plan that reveals a path to Medicare-for-all, Clinton has personally gone after Bernie for being a wide-eyed dreamer who will never get anything done. At the same time, she’s presented herself as a pragmatist who knows what can and can’t be passed in Washington. She’s telling voters that she won’t present ideas or policies that won’t have any chance of getting through the partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill.

While politically this might make sense, as she is trying to differentiate herself from a surging candidate who is threatening her predestined run at the White House, to many voters it is sure to come across as both cynical and peddling establishment politics, which is the death knell of this election cycle.

This past week in Iowa, she tried out her new attack line against Sanders, saying she’s “not interested in ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in real life.” Pointing out that she likes his ideas “in theory,” she is instead someone who deals in “reality.” The message is clear as day — I will not push the envelope or fight for you because it is just too hard and not worth the effort in the end.

And, that may actually be the case. We saw that play out in real time these past seven years. At the same end, voters don’t want to hear a candidate say that she’s going to start in the middle and work her way back from there, which is exactly what Hillary’s doing right now. By promising to already capitulate and not even try, progressive voters already know that they’ll get more quarter-measures and non-attempts on issues that matter the most to them.

What’s even more galling about Hillary’s latest Bernie attacks is this is almost exactly the same thing she did to Barack Obama in 2008 when his ‘Hope and Change’ and ‘Yes We Can’ messages started gaining traction with Democratic primary voters. She made it appear at that time that he was a naive dreamer who was too liberal and wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything in Washington. Her message at that time, like now, was to trust her because she knows the game.

The thing is, hyping up your inside connections and ability to horse-trade is not going to strike a chord in this populist-dominated election cycle. Telling voters that you know how to do backroom deals, play ball with lobbyists and give away 90% so as to get 10% is exactly what people are sick of seeing. They want someone who is going to be a fighter, even if that person fails in the fight more often than not. It is the effort they want to see, not resignation before the fact.

Is Bernie a starry-eyed idealist throwing out utopian fantasies? Yeah, probably.  But he believes in his vision and he’ll fight for it. And that’s something that is lacking with Hillary, and it is starting to become a problem (again) for her with progressive voters.


Image via CBS News/AP

Justin Baragona is the editor and publisher of Contemptor. Prior to starting the site, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He currently resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.
3 Comments on this post.
  • Kristin Lee
    23 January 2016 at 2:31 pm

    How was it that Nixon passed the most environmental legislation of any other president? It was because the people were fed up, fired up and demanded it. It’s been a long while since we’ve once again harnessed our collective rage and shown what an athletic democracy can do.

    Let’s not blow this out of proportion. All Bernie wants to do is restore the American dream where a couple can own a nice, decent house, make a livable wage, send their kids to good schools and not go bankrupt if illness or accident strikes. That’s it. He’s fighting for common decency. To make that a “threat to the establishment” doesn’t say much for them as human beings. And Hillary saying that her “establishment peeps” are going to be slow to budge on granting the most basic, common sense legislation requested of any country should make everyone question her character in deserving its highest position.

    “The sign of a society in trouble is when it has a major crisis and it turns to be saved by the people who caused the crisis.”

  • flexdoc
    23 January 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Whether or not thats true about Hilary, nothing is going to change. Does Bernie Sanders think that he will breeze into office and have Congress just waiting anxiously to pass his changes? Fact is 3/4 of his plans will be dead on arrival in Congress. He is as delusional on the left as the Republicans are on the right.

    • Robert Goldberg
      24 January 2016 at 2:49 am

      Bernie’s campaign has been dogged by just this kind of defeated, exhausted sentiment, these absurd self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe this is true you are part of the problem; you have accepted a status quo that is inhumane, backward and unnecessary. Hillary is another corporatist, like her husband and like our present alleged Democrat. We need a real Democrat in the Oval Office, but we also need people to get their lazy or disaffected or cynical or hopeless asses out to bloody vote. We need to push these GOP (and Dem) whores out of office and replace them with the most progessive candidates we can find. Then we’ll see what’s not going to change. The only delusion is the one promulgated by right-center candidates like Clinton, or self-serving weasels like the GOP lineup.

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