Back in 2004, I wrote an essay predicting the progressive populist moment was at hand. Katrina Vanden Heuvel disagreed. It turns out I was premature.
In this year’s Democratic primary, the activists and rank-and-file of the Democratic Party have been a magnet pulling the candidates towards a common platform of ending the Iraq war, misguided trade agreements and economic injustices that have ruined the lives of so many Americans. The movements for peace, justice and economic reform should be proud of the contributions they have made to public opinion.
It was not so long ago that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were hawkish neo-liberals, eager to prove that they were neither peaceniks nor mindless populists. Now they appear as solid progressives in sync with the broad base of their party.
In tonight’s CNN-Univision debate, Hillary Clinton personified the empathy of Franklin Roosevelt, while Barack Obama invoked the new spirit of John F. Kennedy. I thought Clinton excelled with her wrap-up statement, which led to a standing ovation. She succeeded in expressing a deep empathy for working families.
Obama won on the issues of Cuba and Iraq, and held his own on healthcare against her severe attacks. They seemed equal on their opening statements, on what they would do on Day One, Mexican-American issues and Bush earmarks. Once again, Clinton’s attacks seemed to bounce right off Obama.
Clinton’s performance might re-ignite her campaign, but it also could be a memorable farewell, a dignity in defeat, for which she will be well remembered and honored.