What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the “War on Terror”

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.

Source and Author: Sam Harris

Emphasis Mine

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.—SH

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important and divisive issues of our time—the link between the religion of Islam and terrorism. I want you to know how I view it and how I will think about it as President. I also want you to understand the difference between how I approach this topic and how my opponent in this presidential race does.

The underlying issue—and really the most important issue of this or any time—is human cooperation. What prevents it, and what makes it possible? In November, you will be electing a president, not an emperor of the world. The job of the president of the United States, even with all the power at her or his disposal, is to get people, both at home and abroad, to cooperate to solve a wide range of complex problems. Your job is to pick the person who seems most capable of doing that.

In the past, I’ve said that groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam. And President Obama has said the same. This way of speaking has been guided by the belief that if we said anything that could be spun as confirming the narrative of groups like ISIS—suggesting that the West is hostile to the religion of Islam, if only to its most radical strands—we would drive more Muslims into the arms of the jihadists and the theocrats, preventing the very cooperation we need to win a war of ideas against radical Islam. I now see this situation differently. I now believe that we have been selling most Muslims short. And I think we are all paying an unacceptable price for not speaking clearly about the link between specific religious ideas and the sectarian hatred that is dividing the Muslim world.

All of us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, must oppose the specific ideas within the Islamic tradition that inspire groups like ISIS and the so-called “lone-wolf” attacks we’ve now seen in dozens of countries, as well as the social attitudes that are at odds with our fundamental values—values like human rights, and women’s rights, and gay rights, and freedom of speech. These values are non-negotiable.

But I want to be very clear about something: Bigotry against Muslims, or any other group of people, is unacceptable. It is contrary to the values that have made our society a beacon of freedom and tolerance for the rest of the world. It is also totally counterproductive from a security point of view. However, talking about the consequences of ideas is not bigotry. Muslims are people—and most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims simply want to live in peace like the rest of us. Islam, however, is a set of ideas. And all ideas are fit to be discussed and criticized in the 21st century.

Every religious community must interpret its scripture and adjust its traditions to conform to the modern world. Western Christians used to murder people they believed were witches. They did this for centuries. It’s hard to exaggerate the depths of moral and intellectual confusion this history represents. But it is also true that we have largely outgrown such confusion in the West. The texts themselves haven’t changed. The Bible still suggests that witchcraft is real. It isn’t. And we now know that a belief in witches was the product of ancient ignorance and fear. Criticizing a belief in witchcraft, and noticing its connection to specific atrocities—atrocities that are still committed by certain groups of Christians in Africa—isn’t a form of bigotry against Christians. It’s the only basis for moral and political progress.

One thing is undeniable: Islam today is in desperate need of reform. We live in a world where little girls are shot in the head or have acid thrown in their faces for the crime of learning to read. We live in a world where a mere rumor that a book has been defaced can start riots in a dozen countries. We live in a world in which people reliably get murdered over cartoons, and blog posts, and beauty pageants—even the mere naming of a teddy bear. I’m now convinced that we have to talk about this with less hesitancy and more candor than we’ve shown in the past. Muslims everywhere who love freedom must honestly grapple with the challenges that a politicized strand of their religion poses to free societies. And we must support them in doing so. Otherwise, our silence will only further empower bigots and xenophobes. That is dangerous. We are already seeing the rise of the far right in Europe. And we are witnessing the coalescence of everything that’s still wrong with America in the candidacy of Donald Trump.

Now, it is true that this politicized strain of Islam is a source of much of the world’s chaos and intolerance at this moment. But it is also true that no one suffers more from this chaos and intolerance than Muslims themselves. Most victims of terrorism are Muslim; the women who are forced to wear burkhas or are murdered in so-called “honor killings” are Muslim; the men who are thrown from rooftops for being born gay are Muslim. Most of the people the world over who can’t even dream of speaking or writing freely are Muslim. And modern, reform-minded Muslims, most of all, want to uproot the causes of this needless misery and conflict.

In response to terrorist atrocities of the sort that we witnessed in Paris, Nice, and Orlando, we need to honestly acknowledge that we are fighting not generic terrorism but a global jihadist insurgency. The first line of defense against this evil is and always will be members of the Muslim community who refuse to put up with it. We need to empower them in every way we can. Only cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims can solve these problems. If you are concerned about terrorism, if you are concerned about homeland security, if you are concerned about not fighting unnecessary wars and winning necessary ones, if you are concerned about human rights globally, in November you must elect a president who can get people in a hundred countries to cooperate to solve an extraordinarily difficult and polarizing problem—the spread of Islamic extremism. This is not a job that a president can do on Twitter.

I want to say a few words on the topics of immigration and the resettlement of refugees: The idea of keeping all Muslims out of the United States, which my opponent has been proposing for months, is both impractical and unwise. It’s one of those simple ideas—like building a wall and deporting 11 million undocumented workers—that doesn’t survive even a moment’s scrutiny. More important, if you think about this purely from the point of view of American security, you realize that we want Muslims in our society who are committed to our values. Muslims like Captain Humayun Khan, who died protecting his fellow American soldiers from a suicide bomber in Iraq. Or his father, Khizr Khan, who spoke so eloquently in defense of American values at the Democratic National Convention. Muslims who share our values are, and always will be, the best defense against Islamists and jihadists who do not.

That’s one reason why the United States is faring so much better than Europe is. We have done a much better job of integrating our Muslim community and honoring its religious life. Muslims in America are disproportionately productive and prosperous members of our society. They love this country—with good reason. Very few of them have any sympathy for the ideology of our enemies. We want secular, enlightened, liberal Muslims in America. They are as much a part of the fabric of this society as anyone else. And given the challenges we now face, they are an indispensable part.

Despite the counsel of fear you hear from my opponent, security isn’t our only concern. We also have an obligation to maintain our way of life and our core values, even in the face of threats. One of our values is to help people in need. And few people on earth are in greater need at this moment than those who are fleeing the cauldron of violence in Iraq and Syria—where, through no fault of their own, they have had to watch their societies be destroyed by sectarian hatred. Women and girls by the tens of thousands have been raped, in a systematic campaign of sexual violence and slavery. Parents have seen their children crucified. The suffering of these people is unimaginable, and we should help them—whether they are Yazidi, or Christian, or Muslim. But here is my pledge to you: No one will be brought into this country without proper screening. No one will be brought in who seems unlikely to embrace the values of freedom and tolerance that we hold dear.  Is any screening process perfect? Of course not. But I can tell you that the only way to actually win the war on terror will be to empower the people who most need our help in the Muslim world.

The irony is that my opponent in this race, who imagines that he is talking tough about terrorism and ISIS and Islam, has done nothing but voice inflammatory and incoherent ideas that, if uttered by a U.S. president, would immediately make the world a more dangerous place. Being “politically incorrect” isn’t the same as being right, or informed, or even sane. It isn’t a substitute for actually caring about other people or about the consequences of one’s actions in the world. It isn’t a policy. And it isn’t a strategy for winning the war against jihadism, or a war of ideas against radical Islam…


Actress Jennifer Lawrence Rips Trump, Kim Davis & Republican Bigots In Epic Interview

final_newsletter_imageSource: occupy democrats.com

Author:Colin Taylor

Emphasis Mine

World-famous actress Jennifer Lawrence was raised a Republican – but is horrified by the monster the Grand Old Party has become today. In a recent interview with Vogue, Lawrence slammed the conservative party for their downright backward attitudes towards women’s rights and the rising power of religious zealots within the movement.

“I was raised a Republican but I just can’t imagine supporting a party that doesn’t support women’s basic rights. It’s 2015 and gay people can get married and we think that we’ve come so far, so, yay! But have we? I don’t want to stay quiet about that stuff.

My view on the election is pretty cut-and-dried. If Donald Trump is president of the United States, it will be the end of the world. And he’s also the best thing to happen to the Democrats ever.”

It truly is appalling how a party attempting to make a case for the presidency of the United States treats a full half of the electorate with such condascending disdain. From Sen. Marco Rubio‘s (R-FL) horrendous assertions that women are “getting pregnant to sell the fetus to Planned Parenthood” to Ben Carson’s comparison of rape victims who have abortions to slave owners, the GOP simply refuses to rid itself of the rampant misogyny that one expects to hear from a religious extremist group like the Taliban but not a political party seeking election in a global superpower. 

Lawrence also took aim at embattled bigot Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who made headlines when she was jailed for refusing to do her job and sign marriage licenses for LGBT couples. The Hunger Games actress did not mince her words: “Kim Davis? Don’t even say her name in this house. [She is a] lady who makes me embarrassed to be from Kentucky. All those people holding their crucifixes, which may as well be pitchforks, thinking they’re fighting the good fight. I grew up in Kentucky. I know how they are.”

Lawrence is one of many Republican across the nation who are very distraught with the Republican Party’s slide into the depths of delusional extremism. We welcome her to the side of empathy, rationality, and reason.

See: http://wp.me/p3h8WX-5Hn

Mistakes Were Made: A Talk With the Head of the Communist Party USA

Source: Gawker.com

Author: Hamilton Noland

Emphasis Mine

The United States of America has a Communist Party. John Bachtell is its national chairman. We spoke to him about American politics, the mistakes of the Soviets, and communism’s branding problem.

(N.B.: when one sees the phrase “mistakes were made”, they know this is not the GOP discussing its history.)

Bachtell grew up in Ohio, with parents active in the civil rights and antiwar movement. He became interested in communism in college, and has been a member of the party since 1977. All the while, he’s been involved in political campaigns as well. We met him last week at the Communist Party USA’s headquarters on 23rd street in Manhattan to hear what modern American communism is all about. It’s not your daddy’s communism.

(N.B.: Because of the incredible variety in all aspects – including geography, economy, and culture – in the state of Ohio,  I don’t think there could be a more ambiguous statement than “in Ohio”.)

Gawker: Your involvement in electoral campaigns is mainly organizing for progressive Democrats?

John Bachtell: Yes, mainly progressive Democrats and independents at every level, whether it be city council, state rep, Senate, Presidential. I was really active in both Obama campaigns. Actually I was his precinct captain for his Senate campaign in Illinois.

Gawker: Do people ever reject your help because they don’t want the Communist Party associated with their campaigns?

JB: Not usually. I tend to be more tactical, so it doesn’t really become an issue. I don’t make it an issue—we don’t make it an issue. We’re all about coalition building in the electoral arena… It’s hard for us to run candidates that are not within the framework of either the Democratic Party, or independent politics.

Gawker: How has the party changed in the nearly 30 years you’ve been in it?  

JB: I think we have gone through a lot of different changes. Unfortunately I think we’re a little smaller now than we were back in the 80s. There were huge setbacks that took place back in 1991, and that had a big impact on not only the Communist Parties around the world, socialist parties—it had a big impact on the labor movement. I don’t know that people fully appreciate the extent of that setback to mass movements. But certainly it had an impact on our party, and I’m not sure we’ve fully recovered from it. At the same time, it prompted us to embark on a very deep examination of our politics and organization, and since then we’ve been embarking on a lot of changes. We call them transformative changes that modernize the party, that make us a party of 21st century socialism, that bring us from the political margins into the political mainstream.

Gawker: And by that do you mean focusing more on coalitions with more mainstream movements on the left, or what?

JB: It entails first of all rooting ourselves in the political and economic realities of today. Our main strategic concept that we’ve been working with since 1980 is the rise of the right—the extreme right—its domination of politics in the US. That all rose with Reagan and the right wing takeover of the Republican party. And that’s been with us since then. We’ve seen it as recently as the last election cycle and everything that’s come out of that, and the domination of state governments by extreme right wing Republicans, and what they’ve been able to do on worker rights, women’s rights, voter suppression, and a whole bunch of different things. There’s a real threat to basic democratic rights as we see it. We were one of the very first organizations to sound the alarm and call for a very broad multi-class united front against the extreme right. And I think that’s been validated. Now it’s a very broadly accepted concept. But the extreme right’s not gonna be defeated without a multi-class movement that involves those sections of Wall Street that don’t go along with the Koch brothers; that also involves the labor movement, communities of color, women’s organizations, youth and students, and all the Democratic movements, immigrant rights, gay and lesbian rights, seniors, you name it. All have to be part of this. Otherwise we won’t be able to advance to any other stages of struggle in this country.

Gawker: What’s been your impression of the Obama administration, and Obama’s record?

JB: When he was first elected we thought that perhaps his presidency could be a transformative moment for the country. I think we underestimated the degree of opposition from the Republicans and sections of Wall Street and monopoly capital. They thwarted him at every turn, and there were also divisions within the Democrats as well. So it was really hard for the administration to do some of what they wanted to do. Nevertheless, we felt that he could have gone further than he did, particularly economically, but the fact is that the Republican obstruction has been full court obstruction of everything…

Now you have a shift in mass public opinion that’s gravitating on a lot of key issues in a very good direction: majorities in support of taxing the rich, in support of immigration reform, you name it. I think that is in some ways allowing the administration to bypass Congress and use executive authority to move forward.

Gawker: Is growing the party an important goal for you? Is recruiting younger people into the party important to you?

JB: I think as part of the process of building this broad people’s coalition, we see rebuilding the left—because a broad left is a necessary part of that. I think in a lot of ways the organized left is marginalized. Its voice has not been fully heard, except now through the Sanders campaign you’re seeing signs of it... but in a lot of ways the left has not been able to speak very broadly to the American people. And so I think rebuilding the left as a viable force, and also our party as a mass voice for socialism in the country, is needed to put forward much more advanced solutions.

Gawker: It does seem like in previous generations, big, organized left wing groups like yours were more popular, but they’re not as much now with the younger generation, even thought the left wing sentiment is still there. Why do you think that is?

JB: Obviously the McCarthy period had a huge impact on the left, and really isolated the left in the country in the 50s. The 60s began to bring the left from the margins back into the conversation again. But the rise of the extreme right in the 80s, which was connected in a lot of ways to a whole restructuring of capitalism and the beginning of globalization, there was an ideological component that went with it, that really once again made left ideas not viable, or worthy of public discussion. Shunted them to the side. Mass media was part of that. So there was no way to gain entry in a big way. Having said that, I think the left also did a lot to isolate itself, and in that context spoke to itself and not to broad masses. I think that we fell into that as well, even though we tried to find ways to modify our message. I don’t think we were effective enough in that. And that takes me to today, because I think in a lot of ways that’s still true: the left speaks too narrowly, to too narrow of an audience.

Gawker: Do you feel that the Communist party has a branding problem, for lack of a better term? Is the stigma that goes with being the Communist party still a stumbling block?

JB: I don’t think you can conclude anything other than that. I think we have a branding problem, and even though there’s been a decline in anti-communism in the country, I think we are still in many ways associated with the Soviet Union and with that whole era of global socialism. The early part of the 20th century. Some people may see us a foreign import, even though we’re deeply rooted in the revolutionary democratic traditions of this country. And that’s something we have to grapple with.

Gawker: You’ve written about your commitment to work with Democrats and the Democratic party. Is that just a nod to political reality? And if that’s a transitional strategy for you, what’s the long term strategy?

JB: We see the long term movement towards socialism as necessary, but it’s not inevitable. Because with global climate change and the danger of nuclear weapons humanity may not survive. So it’s really up to the will of humanity to figure out a way forward. But we do see the struggle in the United States as going through a number of stages. The current one, as I said, is to defeat the extreme right. It also overlaps with another more advanced stage of struggle, which is the struggle against monopoly corporations and the capitalist class as a whole. But we do see building a very broad majority people’s coalition—you can’t win any fundamental change big majorities. That’s what history shows us, so that’s what we’re all about.

Gawker: What do you think accounts for the success of the right, which you say you’ve been grappling with since the 80s?

JB: Well, you’re dealing with some extremely powerful forces that have unlimited resources, and they’re not only able to fund movements, but whole institutions, mass media, and so on. So they’re extremely powerful, and you can never underestimate what they’re capable of doing. And I think it’s also related to what we were talking about earlier: during the rise of the right, they were basically able to shut out the alternatives. They were able to shut out the voice of the left. So that’s why they were able to ideologically dominate political discourse in the country, and then were able to influence how people thought at the grassroots.

Now, we’re facing this long term economic stagnation in the country, and this is the new normal. Mass unemployment; huge wealth disparity, and increasingly so; the only means of economic development is through external stimulus, and so on; and declining living standards. So you have a lot of scared people. People are really scared. So a lot of people are open to easy solutions. So you start pouring in racism, and xenophobia, and homophobia, and so on—people buy it, if there’s not a counter to it. Then I think we have a problem where a lot of people, it’s easy for people to think they can get outta this thing on their own. Individualist solutions. They don’t see collective struggle. And I think that’s an important lesson we all have to learn: that any change in this country is going to be collective struggle. Masses in motion...

There’s a lot of great things that are happening. With the labor movement. Just in the last year, we’ve had an incredible conversation around the country about racism, and institutionalized racism. Black Lives Matter has played an important role. We’ve had these incredible developments around marriage equality, and gay and lesbian equality. These are really sea changes in public opinion in a lot of ways. And they harken to possibilities for the future.

Gawker: When it comes to economic inequality, do you feel your party has some special insight on that issue? What would be your (near term) prescription?

JB: There’s a lot of great ideas being put forward that we totally support, and have actually been promoting for many years. Beginning with income redistribution in the country, taxing the wealthy and corporations, eliminating all the corporate welfare subsidies, ending privatization of public services and assets. We support the idea of a financial transactions tax. We’re of course for a massive shifting of the federal budget away from military spending and pouring that money into a massive project to rebuild cities and towns all across the country, a high speed rail system from coast to coast, a transition to a sustainable economy, completely divesting off of coal, and pouring money into healing the environment. Which we feel in the short term will generate millions or tens of millions of new jobs and put people back to work much the way the WPA did. I think one of the missing elements of this campaign—although [Bernie] Sanders talks about it—is a call for a massive public works program that will put literally everybody back to work in one way or another. And I think it’s possible. But it’s only possible with income redistribution in society.

Gawker: The biggest socialist foreign policy story now would be America’s relationship with Cuba. What’s your take on it, and on the Cuban socialist experiment as a whole?

JB: I think this is a really exciting time. The normalization of relations is long overdue. It’s something that supported by the Cuban people and the majority of Americans, so I think it’s a wonderful thing. I also think it’s an exciting time for the Cubans, because of their reinventing socialism and updating their socialist model.

I think that they recognized that the current model they were working under was not doing the job, was not leading to the kind of development that was necessary, and that in fact they were losing ground in a lot of ways. And I think one of the conclusions that they drew was that the model that they had, which was based on the Soviet model—centralized planning—was not and maybe never could have been conducive to the realities that they faced there. So they had to change. The had to. While they are not giving up their objective of building socialism, they realized that they had to find ways to have a number of different forms of social property and private property. They had to find a way to open up the doors to foreign investment, either wholly or in joint form. And they had to find a way to involve a much bigger section of the Cuban people in this process. So I think the whole movement towards cooperatives is a really important development.

But also this idea that you have to have incentives. And that I think was one of the fundamental mistakes—it was a mistake for the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries that collapsed, that they leveled income, and they didn’t see the need for rewarding work. So now you have the institution of wages at different levels, even though it’s within a range. Still, you have to have that. People demanded it, and they’re responding to it. And that’s an important lesson. We see that as part of our socialism as well.

Gawker: Is there an official policy on that for the Communist Party? I think a standard American view is that communism involves both centralized planning and hyper-equality, which strikes fear in people’s hearts.

JB: We see our socialism in the United States as being very unique. At the same time we have to examine the mistakes and errors that happened, including the overcentralization and the totality of the state sector and the leveling of wages and so on. I think most would agree those were big mistakes which compounded and helped to lead to the collapse, or was a factor in the collapse of socialism. We see, at least in the foreseeable future, a market much like we see today, but a much bigger state sector, and one in which the power of corporations and Wall Street is severely limited. And that actually the big corporations and the big banks are brought under public ownership. And that we reverse privatization and expand public assets.. but at the same time, we do see a need for the range of wages depending on a person’s contribution to society or their ability to produce. They should be rewarded for that.

Gawker: Is your vision for America a sort of Scandinavian model? Or is there another model, or precedent?

JB: I don’t think so. Although obviously we see this transition taking place through the electoral arena. We see a socialist coalition being elected, one that can institute these kinds of policies, including expanding public ownership. As I said, our aim is to curb the power of the biggest corporations in the country, and the wealthiest people. I think there will be a big role for small businesses, and farmers, and even middle-sized corporations. We’re not about advocating taking people’s personal property. That’s not anything we believe in. We call it “Bill of Rights Socialism,” by the way. It’s kind of an expansion of the Bill of Rights… making the right to a job part of the Constitution. The right to a free education, free health care, free child care, access to affordable housing and mass transit. All those things should be basic rights that are enshrined in the Constitution.

Gawker: How optimistic are you that some of these things are actually going to get done, whether in the next few years or in your lifetime?

JB: I’m really optimistic for the future. But I’m also obviously very alarmed by the dangers that we face as a country, as a world, and as humanity. We don’t have a lot of time. Especially when you consider global climate change and how rapidly the potential for destabilizing whole ecosystems [is growing], and how fast humanity could be obliterated, or at least large sections of humanity. So we have to work with urgency. We have to help much larger sections of people understand the urgency of the moment. And I think people are. How quickly is another question. But that’s part of the role of movements.


Clinton is banking on the Obama coalition to win

Source: washpo

Author: Anne Geraan

Emphasis Mine

Hillary Rodham Clinton is running as the most liberal Democratic presidential front-runner in decades, with positions on issues from gay marriage to immigration that would, in past elections, have put her at her party’s precarious left edge.

The moves are part of a strategic conclusion by Clinton’s emerging campaign: that it can harness the same kind of young and diverse coalition as Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012, bolstered by even stronger appeal among women.

Her approach — outlined in interviews with aides and advisers — is a bet that social and demographic shifts mean that no left-leaning position Clinton takes now is likely to hurt her when she makes her case to moderate and independent voters in the general election next year.

The strategy relies on calculations about the 2016 landscape, including that up to 31 percent of the electorate will be Americans of color — a projection that may be overly optimistic for her campaign. It factors in that a majority of independent voters already support same-sex marriage and the pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that Clinton endorsed this month.

The game plan also hinges on a conclusion by Clinton strategists that the broad appeal of issues such as paid family leave, a higher minimum wage and more affordable college will help outweigh any concerns about costs.  

The campaign’s overall calculus relies on a mix of polling — including both internal and public surveys — internal focus groups and what advisers described as gut feelings about the national mood. It also reflects what Clinton backers say are her firmly held personal convictions and her pragmatism.

“Her approach to this really is not trying to take a ruler out and measure where she wants to be on some ideological scale,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said. “It’s to dive deeply into the problems facing the American people and American families. She’s a proud wonk, and she looks at policy from that perspective.”

Clinton’s full embrace of same-sex marriage in the first days of her campaign was followed by clear statements in favor of scrapping get-tough immigration and incarceration policies — many of which took root during her husband’s administration. She has also weighed in with liberal takes on climate change, abortion rights and disparities in income and opportunity between rich and poor.

All are issues that have been divisive in the past for both Democrats and Republicans. But none are now judged to be radioactive for Democrats, which gives Clinton more elbow room.

By taking such positions, aides and advisers hope Clinton will not only inoculate herself against a serious challenge from the left in the primaries, but that she also will be able to push on through the general election. Her campaign believes American public opinion has moved left not only since Bill Clinton won election in 1992 on a centrist platform, but also since Barack Obama won on a more liberal one.

Republicans — as part of a broader critique of her trustworthiness — accuse Clinton of flip-flopping on some positions and hiding on others, such as free trade, to cater to the liberal base.

“Clinton’s already moved her position leftward on numerous hot button issues to the base, including immigration, gay marriage, Wall Street and criminal justice reforms,” conservative America Rising PAC director Colin Reed wrote in a position paper Friday.

“Clinton’s moves reinforce all her worst attributes as a candidate and hurt her image among voters of all stripes,” Reed said. “Progressive voters know that she’s not truly one of them” while swing voters “see a desperate politician staking out far-left positions that are outside of the mainstream of most Americans.”

Many political strategists also say Clinton will be hard-pressed to re-create Obama’s winning coalition and that the 30 percent to 31 percent non-white turnout that some of her outside backers are projecting may be out of reach. Exit polls show non-white turnout was 28 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2008. Clinton will have to expand Hispanic support, increase turnout among independent women and still hold onto a large share of black voters drawn to the first African American major party nominee.

The bold stance on immigration is widely seen as one way to jump-start the expansion of Hispanic support Clinton will need, although advisers say she had already made up her mind about citizenship and there was no reason to put off an announcement. When outlining her position in Nevada, where 1 in 4 residents is Hispanic, she made a point of saying that no Republican would go as far — and alleged the GOP wanted immigrants to have “second-class status.”

“People often talk about the electorate moving left,” said Clinton senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan. “I think it’s more that the electorate is just getting more practical. For Hillary Clinton, that matches her evidence-based approach. The arguments that persuade her are evidence-based and progressive.”

He cited the growing consensus that mass incarceration is expensive and unworkable, and that the country is never going to deport all of the more than 11 million people who are here illegally.

Advisers do not dispute that Clinton has a finger to the wind of the national mood, but they insist the timing and substance of her positions are not driven by polling. The still-cautious candidate has declined to make clear her position on two key proposals that many liberals oppose: the Keystone XL Pipeline and Obama’s free-trade deal.

Sullivan also noted that some of Clinton’s early proposals “cut against the grain” of political liberalism, such as her emphasis on improving the playing field for American small businesses.

Clinton will debut policy proposals to ease lending bottlenecks for small businesses on campaign trips to Iowa and New Hampshire this week. The impetus came largely from conversations Clinton had in the run-up to the campaign and a six-month policy review led by Sullivan that looked at how Clinton might address a range of national concerns.

“The thing she is most interested in is not what position is most popular, it’s what do people worry about,” Sullivan said.

Clinton’s 2008 campaign was so focused on polling data and the consequences of saying the wrong thing that it sometimes appeared paralyzed. Some of that campaign’s infamous staff battles focused on the advice from senior adviser Mark Penn, a pollster, to avoid more liberal positions in the primary that year for fear they would hurt her in a general election contest.

This time is different, backers say. “The strategic advantage the Democrats have is that the distance between our base and the middle is shorter than for Republicans,” said Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress and a longtime Clinton confidant.

In other words, Clinton’s strategists say, she does not face the same whiplash as Republican candidates who seek to dial back hard-right positions on issues such as abortion or immigration adopted during a competitive primary.

Senior campaign officials acknowledged that trade is a divisive and fraught issue for Democrats and for her. Clinton’s past support for the Asia free trade pact makes her current silence awkward at best, but her advisers are gambling that the issue won’t leave an enduring rift within the party.

Clinton campaign leaders and outside loyalists also bridle at the perception that she is less of a progressive politician than, say, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). They point to Clinton’s early career as a crusading lawyer in Arkansas and lifelong professional commitments to improving women’s lives.

Warren has said she isn’t running but has declined so far to endorse Clinton. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is running a strongly populist challenge to Clinton, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley — who has suggested Clinton is too hesitant and poll-driven — is expected to enter the race this month.

“If Clinton and other candidates are not seen as standing with Warren on the TPP trade deal and a number of other economic issues critical to working families, it could create an even greater sense of urgency” to get Warren into the race, said Gary Ritterstein, an adviser to the support group Ready for Warren.

The clearest shift in national attitudes, and Clinton’s own, has come on same-sex marriage. She moved from saying she considered marriage to be between a man and a woman when she was first lady to backing civil unions as an alternative to marriage in 2008 to full support of gay and lesbian marriage now.

Public opinion polling suggests she is on safe ground, despite ongoing legal fights in several states. The firmest opposition to gay marriage is centered in red states and among Republican voters unlikely to consider voting for Clinton.

Pew Research polling shows that in August 2008 — when Clinton endorsed Obama as the Democratic nominee — 52 percent of Americans opposed legal same-sex marriage and 39 percent supported it. The same poll now shows 54 percent support for such marriages while 39 percent are opposed.

Shifts on criminal justice issues are less dramatic, but there are bipartisan efforts now to repeal some of the harshest and least flexible laws on the books for two decades. Outrage and revulsion over police killings of black men over the past year made the issue more urgent for many young, African American and socially liberal voters.

Last month, Clinton gave an address calling for dramatic changes in policing and prosecution to lessen the rate of incarceration. The remarks echo similar calls among both Democrats and some Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

“Two or three years ago,” said Clinton policy adviser Ann O’Leary, “that speech might have been seen as a very left-leaning speech.”

Peyton Craighill contributed to this report.

Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for The Washington Post.


See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/running-to-the-left-hillary-clinton-is-banking-on-the-obama-coalition-to-win/2015/05/17/33b7844a-fb28-11e4-9ef4-1bb7ce3b3fb7_story.html