Even if Hillary sincerely intends to raise taxes on rich Americans in order to pay for universal child care, affordable higher education and infrastructure spending, the moneyed interests have the clout to stop her.
They’ll also resist any effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour, require employers to offer paid family leave, or push employers to share their profits with employees.
The heart of American politics is now a vicious cycle in which big money has enough political influence to get laws and regulations that make big money even bigger, and prevent laws and rules that threaten its wealth and power.
Before Hillary can accomplish anything important, that vicious cycle has to be reversed. But how?
The most promising answer was revealed in Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign: millions of citizens determined to reclaim American democracy and the economy from big money. (Donald Trump’s faux populism tapped into similar sentiments but, tragically, has channeled them into bigotry and scapegoating.)
That movement lives on. Organizers from the Sanders campaign have already launched Brand New Congress, an ambitious effort to run at least 400 progressive candidates for Congress in 2018, financed by small, crowd-sourced donations and led by a nationwide network of volunteers. Sanders himself recently announced the formation of “Our Revolution” to support progressive candidates up and down the ticket.
Hillary Clinton has been relying on big money to finance her presidential campaign, but she’s always been a pragmatist about governing. “A president has to deal in reality,” she said last January in response to Sanders. “I am not interested in ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in real life.”
The pragmatist in her must know that the only way her ideas will make it in real life is if the public is organized and mobilized behind them.
Which means that once she enters the Oval Office, she’ll need the countervailing power of a progressive movement — ironically, much like the one her primary opponent championed.