Whatever doesn't kill your campaign makes it stronger. That's been the hope of Hillary Clinton, after what initially looked like an easy path to the Democratic nomination turned into a bar fight of a primary thanks to a grassroots army of young progressives rallying behind her opponent, Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, won 42 percent of the primary vote promoting things like single-payer healthcare and the expansion of entitlement programs like Social Security. The Vermont senator's influence was clear when this year's Democratic Party platform was revealed; it includes planks on legalizing marijuana, capping greenhouse gas emissions, criminal justice reform, and promises to regulate Wall Street and break up big banks.
"She is talking very liberal stuff, people are not sure whether to trust it," said Mike Konczal, a fellow at the progressive Roosevelt Institute. "But I think the starting point is much stronger than people expected."
Here's a rundown on some of Clinton's positions:
Clinton embraced Sanders' proposal for free public college in July, leaving behind a more conservative "debt-free" emphasis in favor of a plan to pay for public and state tuition fees. Unlike Sanders, she put a cap on it, limiting the funds for families making less than $85,000 a year, and by 2021, those making $125,000 a year. But Sanders praised her plans for higher education nonetheless: "This proposal, when implemented, will revolutionize the funding of higher education in America, improve the economic future of our country, and make life immediately better for tens of millions of people stuck with high levels of student debt," he said.
The Caveat: "It isn't being pitched well," said public ed advocate and scholar Sara Goldrick-Rab, who finds Clinton's version of Sanders' grand plan too technocratic. "She needs a working class level outcry for it." And Robert Kelchem, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, pointed out that the massive price tag would make passage all but impossible. "It's unlikely to pass Congress without a filibuster-proof majority," he said.
In May, Clinton started officially advocating for a public healthcare option, noting she had supported it for decades. "Hillary will pursue efforts to give Americans in every state in the country the choice of a public-option insurance plan, and to expand Medicare by allowing people 55 years or older to opt in while protecting the traditional Medicare program," her website reads. It was a change in tone from her previous insistence that the issue should be left alone post-Obamacare.
The Caveat: A public option, much less single-payer healthcare, has no chance of becoming reality without a sympathetic Congress.
$15 MINIMUM WAGE
During the primary, Clinton seemingly hedged on the $15 federal minimum wage, saying she supports it, saying she supports it in cities, and saying she supports a $12 minimum. The party platform says, "We should raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over time."
The Caveat: In a newsletter that went out last week, "Wonks For Hillary" declared support for $15 an hour — "where economically feasible."
THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP
After supporting the trade deal while she was Secretary of State, Clinton turned against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) last year, going so far as to have her endorsement removed from the paperback edition of her book Hard Choices. "I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages — including the Trans-Pacific Partnership," Clinton said in August. "I oppose it now, I'll oppose it after the election, and I'll oppose it as president."
The Caveat: People fear she'll change her mind again. In July, Democratic Governor and longtime pal to the Clintons Terry McAuliffe told Politico that Clinton would flip and support the TPP: "She was in support of it," he said. "There were specific things in it she wants fixed." Clinton campaign chair John Podesta was forced to tweet, "Hillary opposes TPP BEFORE and AFTER the election. Period. Full stop."