Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
Many people have come to believe politicians say what they need to say to win, and then turn on them. If Hillary Clinton wants to win the Democratic nomination and inspire people to vote for her in the general election, she must find ways to overcome this voter skepticism.
There is one test that, if she passes it, could convince voters that Clinton is on their side. It involves what Clinton does over the next few months to prove that she meant it when she came out in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal a few weeks ago.
Politics In 2016 Will Be Different
Politics is different this time. Voters feel betrayed by the politicians they have supported in the past. Just look at what is happening on the right. The conventional candidates like "Jeb!" Bush are polling at 3 percent or so -- or just dropping out of the race. The candidates who have never held office and do not exhibit any qualifications whatsoever for governing -- Donald Trump and Ben Carson -- are way ahead.
On the Democratic side the problem is, as always, voter turnout. Working people -- wages stagnant or falling and employers putting the squeeze on in hundreds of imaginative ways -- have figured out that they've been sold out by "establishment" politicians who have helped "rig the game" against them. And they are fed up.
Millions of voters, betrayed and cynical, have simply given up on the system. They haven't gotten anything from the system in a long time. They don't vote and they don't believe the things politicians tell them.
Candidate Hillary Clinton might not need those voters to win the nomination and maybe not even to win the election. But if she wants "coattails" to bring in a Democratic House and Senate, be it in 2016 or 2018, she is going to have to earn their trust.
Democratic voters are skeptical of promises. They want to see proof. They want to see action. They want to see changes. Or they will just stay home. And the terrible mess we are in will continue and worsen.
"NAFTA-Style" Trade Deals
One major source of Democratic voter distrust and skepticism that comes up repeatedly is a belief that "corporate Democrats" sold out working people with "NAFTA-style" trade deals.
"Free trade" deals and our country's corporate-over-labor trade policies generally have resulted in massive, enormous, humongous trade deficits -- the metric of jobs lost, factories closed and wealth drained from our economy. These "trade" deals sent millions of jobs out of the country to places like Mexico and China so that shareholders and executives could pocket the wage difference. Voters in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and the rest of the "rust belt" look around them and see the result: empty factories with broken windows, boarded-up downtowns, foreclosed and abandoned homes falling apart " and the lucky-if-you-find-one replacement jobs that pay a fraction of what they used to make.
Politicians know voters understand that the trade deals sold them out, and instead of making things better the politicians lied to the voters and sold them out again. In 2008, for example, candidate Barack Obama repeatedly expressed his opposition to NAFTA, promising to renegotiate the disastrous "trade" agreement "immediately" after taking office. He said, "I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada, to try to amend NAFTA " "
But after taking office Obama went back on that promise, and the wages of working Americans continued to decline. Instead of renegotiating NAFTA as promised, Obama brought in Wall Street negotiators who eventually brought us the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Clinton And The Trust/Enthusiasm Gap