We Know Who Hillary Clinton is Against. Soon We’ll Find Out What She’s For.

Hillary Clinton is the de facto Democratic nominee for the presidency. And she has been campaigning with that understanding in mind. She has a multitude of endorsements from high-ranking Democrats and a few disaffected Republicans. President Obama and Vice President Biden have endorsed her and will soon campaign for her nationally. Senator Elizabeth Warren has endorsed her and campaigned with her enthusiastically and energetically.

The essence of Ms. Clinton’s campaign so far has been to attack Donald Trump. However, it is not enough for her to tell potential voters what’s wrong with Mr. Trump. We need to know what Hillary Clinton stands for, what she will attempt to accomplish as President.

It’s not that Clinton has not taken positions on the important issues facing the US. A perusal of her official website will indicate some of her major concerns – stated in general terms – and some specific policy positions. Many of these positions will appeal to liberals and some “independents” – gun control, increasing the minimum wage, stricter regulation of “Wall Street,” low cost public higher education (including tuition-free community college), paid family leave, support for Planned Parenthood, and support for LGBT rights.

While her positions are likely to resonate with her supporters and supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, they may not get the support of “moderates,” conservatives, and those who are disposed to mistrust or outright hate the Clintons. So, pointing out the disastrous nature of a Trump presidency is a way to overcome the resistance of these voters.

But soon Clinton will have to begin campaigning on the basis of her plans for the country. She will have to make promises to the public at large, not just speeches to members of interest groups. She will have to risk having her proposals critiqued by experts and adversaries. She will face attacks on her plans by organized right-wing groups. The media, having given us “all Trump, all the time,” may begin to give Clinton fair coverage. But loving a “horserace” as they do, the media might also assert a false equivalence between Trump’s excesses and Clinton’s positions. She will have to simultaneously affirm the benefits of her platform and denouce and discredit everything that Trump represents.

We can consider this a period of transition in the Clinton campaign. I believe that she will soon begin to focus her message on her platform as well as Trump’s shortcomings. Three things will complete this transition. The first is the entry of President Obama into the campaign. Obama will be eager to cite his accomplishments, and praising Hillary Clinton as the continuation of his vision for the US will celebrate both Clinton and himself. The unfinished business of Obama’s presidency will give Clinton concrete points of contact with Democratic voters. With unlimited access to President Obama’s political apparatus, Clinton will have the resources to get out the vote of the Democratic base.

The second factor is the Republic National Convention. The convention will define the Republican platform and Trump’s relationship to the party. And, as we can surmise, it will be the process and dynamics of the convention as much as its platform and candidates that will shape how voters perceive the party. Clinton’s positions and her record will be offered as a sharp contrast to whatever the Republicans offer the electorate.

Finally, the Democratic National Convention will provide the platform on which Clinton will run for President. The platform contains a number of liberal planks, including a $15/hr minimum wage, support for labor unions, defence of voting rights, clean energy jobs, support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and similar positions (although taking a decidedly non-committal position on the TPP). Regardless of how much of the proposed platform makes it into the party’s final position on the issues, Clinton will have the entirety of the Democratic Party committed to her campaign. She will have the support of Democrats who will advocate for her position on the issues and Democrats who will attack Trump in particular and Republicans in general.

As everything falls into place, in a short time should expect to see Hillary Clinton’s run for president as something more than an anti-Trump campaign.

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