From Thom Hartmann
Hillary Clinton’s webpage was recently updated to clarify that Hillary Clinton will “continue to support a public option, and work to build on the Affordable Care Act to make it possible.”
That hasn’t exactly been her tone since she announced.
In fact, her campaign has been highly critical of the expense and the political feasibility of Bernie Sanders’ plan to extend healthcare to every American.
It’s just the latest in a series of policy positions that Hillary Clinton has wisely tweaked to make them more progressive.
But it’s not Bernie Sanders himself who’s forcing Hillary Clinton to become more and more progressive and to sound more and more like him and Elizabeth Warren.
Before the two candidates ever met on the debate stage, activists had already pressured Hillary Clinton to clearly oppose the Transpacific Partnership and the Keystone XL pipeline.
More recently she’s come out in favor of protecting and strengthening social security, and now she’s taken the first step towards supporting a single-payer system like Medicare-for-All by coming out in support of the public option for health insurance.
But this has very little to do with Bernie Sanders as a person.
It has everything to do with the fact that these are the types of bold proposals that the American people want from their leadership, despite the inside-the-beltway establishment “wisdom” that says that these types of bold proposals are politically “just too hard” to get done.
The same thing is happening on the Republican side.
For the same reasons that Hillary Clinton is sounding more and more like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have been slowly making their platforms every bit as outlandish and bombastic as Donald Trump’s.
And it’s happening even though those candidates spent months trying to call Trump’s proposals “cuckoo”, because like it or not, Trump’s proposals are popular with the Republican base.
Take Ted Cruz for example, he spelled out his immigration policy for Bill O’Reilly recently, and it almost sounded like he was reading straight from Donald Trump’s webpage.
Marco Rubio, who seems to be the GOP establishment favorite, has abandoned his positions on opening a path to citizenship and comprehensive immigration reform, and substituted them with views that are closer to Trump’s.
And as the race heats up, it’s very likely that the establishment Republicans will continue to mirror Trump’s rhetoric to try to out-Trump the Donald.
A year ago, most commentators took it for granted that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee and that she would run as a middle-of-the-road pragmatic Democrat in the footsteps of President Obama.
Now, Democrats have not one, but TWO candidates who oppose the TPP and Keystone XL, who want to protect and strengthen social security, who want a public option, and who support debt-free college.
Clinton didn’t adopt those positions just to be more like Bernie, she did it because they’re popular positions even though they aren’t establishment positions.
Voters from both parties are sick of the establishment, and they’re frustrated by the country that America has become after 35 years of Republican Reaganism and Third-Way DLC Democratic corporatism.
What we’re seeing is an all-out popular rebellion against establishment politics on both sides.
And according to Robert Reich, “The establishment is having conniptions. They call Trump whacky and Sanders irresponsible. They charge that Trump’s isolationism and Bernie’s ambitious government programs will [both] stymie economic growth.”
The conventional wisdom about economics for the last 35 years in both parties is that economic growth is inherently good, that the middle class does well when the economy grows, and that the stock market and how well billionaires are doing reflects the health and wellbeing of Main Street.
But Robert Reich is spot-on when he writes that “[M]ost Americans couldn’t care less about economic growth because for years they’ve got few of its benefits, while suffering most of its burdens in the forms of lost jobs and lower wages.”
Americans know that the median family income has decreased since 2000, because of establishment economics.
Americans know that tens of thousands of factories have been shuttered, and millions of jobs have been shipped to Mexico and China, because of the establishment wisdom about trade deals and economic growth.
Americans know that the billionaires have an unimaginable amount of political and economic power, because of money in politics.
And Americans know that we pay more for prescription drugs and health care than any other country in the developed world, because of establishment wisdom about how health care works in America.
Which is why it’s really no wonder that the two candidates who are speaking about these issues are doing as well as they are.
And it’s no wonder that the establishment candidates, like Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio, are changing their tunes to try to woo supporters from the two outsider candidates who have become the major political stories of 2016.
Americans are sick and tired of the political and economic establishment that has enriched and empowered itself for 35 years at the expense of the American middle class, and that’s why we’re finding ourselves smack dab in the middle of a very real and consequential political revolution.