David Brooks, citing Hillary Clinton’s “amazing opportunity”, is right: “Dear Hillary … somehow you’re going to have to come up with an updated muscular Clintonism”.
Not necessarily tonight — although that would be ideal. But soon, throughout the campaign, in the debates, and right up to election day.
Brooks thinks that today a “niche-targeted campaign” could be a loser. He suggests that Hillary Clinton’s “open, optimistic approach has to be combined with a more aggressive and radical effort to help people compete in the new economy.”
That “aggressive and radical effort” could well attack the rotted tap root of American popular angst: A perceived rigged system awash in big-donor money and influence.
Yes, the Clinton campaign has benefitted from big-money donors — as have virtually all presidential candidates from the primary season onward over too many years. But there is a great lesson to be learned by how a passionate political message, received passionately — that of Bernie Sanders — can all but sway a presidential nomination. Some 8 million individual campaign contributions averaging $27 from truly “turned on” supporters helped bring Sanders to the brink of the Democratic nomination.
A full-throated attack on the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision is surely a good place to start. Sanders has provided it: “The Citizens United decision hinges on the absurd notion that money is speech, corporations are people, and giving huge piles of undisclosed cash to politicians in exchange for access and influence does not constitute corruption.” A Clinton election might well result in Supreme Court appointments that would review Citizens United with new perspective.
Getting big money out our political system will be a long, hard slog. But a few states — California, for example — have made great progress on this issue. And a national movement against big money in politics — at last — would have great popular support. A summary of a 2015 New York Times survey of 1,022 Americans:
“In a rare show of unity, Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, agree that money has too much influence on elections, the wealthy have more influence on elections, and candidates who win office promote policies that help their donors.” Some 84% of respondents said that money has too much influence in American political campaigns today.
Brooks’ conclusion: “This convention is about resetting relationships: establishing trust between you and voters, restoring optimism that we can thrive in the modern economy, redefining a soul satisfying faith in the American project.”
What better way to start than by detoxifying the tap root of our national dismay?