Reprinted from The Nation
As she struggled to keep her 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination alive, Hillary Clinton took a turn toward economic populism. It helped; after a series of setbacks in early caucus and primary states, Clinton's abandonment of front-runner caution and embrace of "I'm in this race to fight for you" rhetoric played a significant role in securing her big wins in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Ultimately, she gained more votes than Barack Obama and came close to wrestling the nomination from him. If Clinton had run from the start as a populist, there is no telling what might have happened. But the important thing to remember is that Clinton did not turn up the volume until she felt she had no other choice -- and by then it was too late.
Now, as she launches a new bid for her party's nomination, Clinton is starting with populist talk. In a slick announcement video released Sunday she gripes that "the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top."
"Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion," says the former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State, on the various platforms employed for the carefully coordinated social media launch of her long-anticipated candidacy.
This is conscious positioning by Clinton. She sounds the same themes in more detail in a freshly-released epilogue to her book, Hard Choices. Reflecting on the birth of her granddaughter, she writes, "I'm more convinced than ever that our future in the 21st century depends on our ability to ensure that a child born in the hills of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or the Rio Grande Valley grows up with the same shot at success that Charlotte will."