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Hillary's Choice: "Anti-Gridlock" or "Anti-Wall Street"?

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Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future


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We're told that Hillary Clinton is spurning something her advisers call the "anti-Wall Street" movement and will run instead on a platform of "working across the aisle" with Republicans. Her camp is suggesting, without much evidence and against the lessons of recent history, that she will be more effective at this endeavor than her predecessor. And now they're using that claim to fight against the Democratic Party's rising populist wing.

Is Hillary Clinton about to repeat Barack Obama's biggest mistake?

In the first two years of his presidency, Obama spoke of compromise, protected Wall Street, and resisted the populist wing of his own party. Democrats lost the House of Representatives, but Obama kept offering "grand bargains." The GOP rejected most of his overtures, even the Social Security benefit cuts they had long championed, and didn't hesitate to use them against Democrats on the campaign trail.

By selling himself as someone who could get things done with Republicans, Obama gave them the power to make him a success or failure. Unsurprisingly, they chose the latter option. Is Hillary Clinton about to make the same mistake -- and will voters buy it if she does?

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An "anti-gridlock" movement?

In an article in The Hill headlined "Clinton quiet as Warren rises," Amie Parnes reports that unnamed Clinton associates aren't concerned about the public's frustration with Wall Street or the rising expressions of populism in her own party (as seen in the fight against the "Cromnibus" bill's "Citigroup amendment").

"I don't think she would have considered the legislation deeply flawed," a Clinton "ally" is quoted as saying of a measure which threatened the pensions of an estimated 1.5 million Americans, increased the influence of big money in politics, and extended taxpayer protection to big banks gambling on derivatives.

"Clinton allies ... think that a bigger movement than the anti-Wall Street camp favors her candidacy," reports Parnes: "the anti-gridlock movement."

What the Polls Really Say

These sources are probably basing their conclusion on polls like this one, which found a 31-point swing since 2010 toward candidates who are willing to compromise. The Wall Street Journal reported on that poll a couple of weeks before this year's election, under the headline "Gridlock Could Prove Costly at the Polls." In fact, there were a number of headlines like that in the weeks leading up to the voting. ("Voters finally fed up with gridlock," opined USA Today.)

Voters then promptly opted for a whole lot more of it.

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Democrats who adopted the "across the aisle" line now being touted for Clinton either went down to larger defeats than expected (Alison Lundergan Grimes, Mark Pryor) or found themselves eking out unexpectedly narrow victories (Mark Warner).

Gridlock doesn't appear to be a "valence issue," one which sways voters. Only 33 percent ranked it as their first or second priority, a figure which edged out concerns about ISIS but fell well behind the 44 percent whose priorities were jobs and growth.

A Tactic, Not a Value

Nevertheless, Clinton insiders are quoted in The Hill as saying things like:

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/the-dumbest-bipartisa

Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future


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