Why ‘Forcing’ Hillary To The Left Won’t Work

Any good negotiator knows that you can't negotiate from the weaker position. Handing Hillary more power in order to hold her feet to the fire is self-defeating.

You don’t hold someone’s feet to the fire by electing them to the most powerful office on planet Earth.

I’m pointing this out because it seems like every Hillary Clinton supporter I talk to these days ends up regurgitating that party line at some point.

“Yeah, I know she’s not the best when it comes to progressive values, but if we elect her we can all band together and hold her feet to the fire, forcing her to make good on the progressive agenda she’s been campaigning on.”

Remember when mindlessly regurgitating party lines was something we used to make fun of Republicans for? Sean Hannity would say something like “We need to stay the course in Iraq, not cut and run” or whatever, and within hours all your Republican acquaintances would be peppering political conversations with the phrases “stay the course” and “cut and run.” Remember how weird that was? How a key phrase could fly from Karl Rove’s mouth in some backroom think tank on Monday, be immediately passed along by conservative radio hosts and the talking heads on Fox News, and be a staple part of water cooler conversations by Tuesday morning?

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, Democrats are the masters of that schtick now. They must have been paying attention. And “hold Hillary’s feet to the fire” is one of those key phrases being passed around through liberal discussion circles like head lice through a kindergarten.

It’s a really brilliant phrase; if anyone reading this knows whose neoliberal brainchild it is, please pass along my compliments to the chef. It’s so violent, so falsely empowering, so insidiously manipulative in the way it gets liberals to feel as though they’re participating in some sort of grand conspiratorial rebellion together whilst handing all their power to the ruling corporatist elites, who are then free to go about expanding and bolstering the politics of corruption, war, income inequality, wage slavery, and a global expansionism of Wal-Mart economics.

And, most importantly, it works. People are buying it. While virtually nobody is enthusiastic about the idea of electing the anointed queen of the Clinton dynasty, they can at least feel somewhat dignified by the prospect of leveraging her into some semblance of a movement to the left.

Except that isn’t how leverage works, is it? Any businessmen or politician worth their salt knows that you can’t negotiate worth spit from a position of weakness. If they’ve got all the power, they’ve got all the leverage, and there’s no reason for them to do anything other than what they feel like doing. You don’t force someone to honor your wishes by handing them all the power and then nicely asking them to please honor your wishes. You force them by forcing them.

How do you force them? You keep your power. You make them need you more than you need them. You help make sure that they will never win another election until they stop rigging primaries and offering horrible candidates.

The elites of the Democratic party want us to believe that we’re already negotiating from a point of weakness by playing their Trump card, saccharinely reminding us at every opportunity that we need to vote for their anointed queen because if we don’t, the big, scary orange man will light America on fire.

But they’re bluffing. The Clintons play golf with Trump; Bill and Donald even had a lengthy phone conversation before Trump announced his candidacy. The Democrats have decades of experience dealing with narcissistic billionaire Republicans, and they know how to work with them. What they don’t know how to work with is this new progressive awakening that’s been confounding their neoliberal agenda for the last year and a half. They’re not afraid of Trump, they’re afraid of us.

So we call their bluff. We make the Democrats watch all their votes bleed out to third parties so they’ll never, ever spit on us like that again. If we do that, you can guarantee that they will be forced to give us a real primary election in 2020, with a real candidate who will make real changes.

And if we don’t do this, the opposite is guaranteed to happen. Voting for Hillary Clinton is a great way to help guarantee more rigged primaries and more forcefully-installed warmongering neoliberal cronies in the future, which will, in turn, make it possible for the Republicans to move even further to the right. That means more war, more predatory trade agreements, more Wall Street cronyism, more tax breaks for the ruling class, more exploitation of the poor, and an overall movement to the right for American politics in the long term.

Don’t let them trick you into trying to negotiate from a place of weakness, my progressive brothers and sisters. Stand your ground, call their bluff, and force them to do the right thing.

[Featured Image by Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock]