Hillary Clinton’s Choice Of Tim Kaine Is The Antithesis Of Everything Progressives Want
Oh, Hillary. Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. Some of us are trying. We’re really, seriously, honestly trying to find a way to back you. But at this point, it almost seems like you don’t even want our votes. And when you do something really outrageous — you know, like picking Tim Kaine to be your running mate — you’re essentially shoving us away that much harder.
Hillary Clinton announced yesterday that Tim Kaine will be her running mate. Some democrats shrugged. Some asked who Tim Kaine is. Some tiny minority of Democrats were excited.
But most serious progressives had a different reaction. How do I best describe it? Hmm… Oh, I know! Are you familiar with the poop emoji? Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
To understand why so many progressives are upset about Clinton’s decision, you first need to appreciate why progressives are upset with Clinton herself. That’s an important step that too few of Clinton’s supporters seem to want to take.
Hillary Clinton is the perfect embodiment of everything the progressive movement has been fighting against for years. She serves up empty platitudes on campaign finance reform, but cozies up to big banks and powerful lobbyists. She gives speeches on income inequality while wearing $12,000 Armani jackets. She’s a friend of Wall Street, giving them speeches and protecting said speeches more carefully than she ever guarded her emails. She’s for incremental environmentalism. She’s had every conceivable position on TPP (she’s against it now, I think, right?).
If you went back in time a few years and brought a police sketch artist to an Occupy Wall St. camp, and asked them to describe for you the personification of everything they were protesting against, the end result would be a photo-perfect drawing of Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders managed to drag Clinton — kicking and screaming — to the left on a number of issues. The problem for progressives is that few of us believe she’ll actually stay there. Once next week’s Democratic National Convention wraps up, many of us believe she’ll abandon all of that and move right back to the middle, opting for her preferred ideological leanings as a Nixon-style Republican (I’m referring to her platform more than her honesty… mostly).
To show progressives that she’s serious about her adopted progressivism, she needed to pick a running mate progressives could get behind. Someone to smooth things over with us; a gesture, however token, that she acknowledges our concerns, that she listens to what we have to say, and that she’s at least quasi-serious about our agenda. We know someone like Tulsi Gabbard or Keith Ellison are too progressive for Clinton, but Sherrod Brown would have been a great choice. We’d have seen that nomination as a step in the right — well, the left — direction.
But who does Clinton pick instead? Tim Kaine, a former DNC Chairman so embedded in the party that one can’t rightly tell where the donkey ends and Tim Kaine begins. He supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which most progressives vehemently oppose (he said those of us who oppose TPP have a “loser’s mentality”). He loves right-to-work laws. He’s a friend of big banks and Wall Street. He believes there’s such a thing as “clean coal.” He supports Planned Parenthood, but he’s vocally pro-life. Do we need to even continue here?
Clinton could have made an effort to appeal to everyone in America whose beliefs are to the left of her own. Instead, she opted for a seemingly boring moderate running mate who chucks insulting language at progressives. She’s not just proclaiming “let them eat cake.” The cake itself is stale, bland, sugar-free, and doesn’t have any icing. Thanks, but no thanks.
Hillary Clinton is banking on the notion that people are so afraid of Donald Trump that they’ll vote for her regardless of what she does. She couldn’t be any more wrong. If she wants to win, she needs to actually work for it. She needs to earn those progressive votes. She isn’t anointed. We won’t vote for her simply because we’re being held at Trump-point.
This election isn’t about who takes office in January, but what takes office. What America will look like in four years. Yes, a Trump presidency is scary. But if Hillary does win, what will she actually do once in office? That needs to matter, too.
This is pretty simple, folks: If Hillary wants to win, she needs votes. If she wants votes, she needs to show progressive voters that she’s worth voting for. Tim Kaine is the polar opposite of what progressives need for reassurance.
I don’t know what Hillary can do at this point to win progressives over. It’s not my job to figure it out for her. But she better come up with a solution quickly. If you’re truly afraid of a Trump presidency, then Clinton fixing her very serious progressive problem should be your absolute highest priority.