Hillary and the free trade dilemma.
In Tuesday’s primaries, Hillary won Kentucky by a whisker, and was beaten by Bernie in Oregon. The Clinton campaign put quite a few resources in Kentucky, which had a sizable number of minority voters. It was considered important, not for the slim, if any, advantage in delegates that she obtained from the win, but in order to stop the run on small, mostly white, states in which Bernie Sanders was piling up victories of late. In terms of the nomination, it was unimportant. With the proportional method of allocating delegates, Hillary is close to achieving the number needed to seal the nomination and is all but certain to be the party’s nominee.
Knowing this, other than in Kentucky, her campaign has been preserving their cash for the general election campaign, and she has been turning her attention to Donald Trump even as the primary season is rolling to a close, with California the biggest prize left. Oregon, which has a history of voting well to the left side of center, as well as being sympathetic to “maverick” candidates. Oregon is also mostly white, and those two characteristics alone suggested ripe pickings for Bernie. And so it was.
Ordinarily Tuesday’s results would entice a big yawn. Not this time, though. If Hillary is to get most of Bernie’s supporters once the convention is in the rear view mirror, she has to deal with the issue of most importance to them. And that is Hillary’s long-standing support for free trade agreements and the subsequent loss of jobs they produce. This shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is of paramount importance. Some of Bernie’s white, blue-collar supporters, at this junction at least, will likely migrate to Donald Trump, who is in agreement with Bernie on this issue. And she’d better address this issue fast before her support for the anti-labor seeming free trade agreements becomes permanently ensconced in the minds of those white working-class voters, who already are uncomfortable with the idea of a lady president. She can do it, but meeting the challenge adequately requires a college courses on international trade and labor economics, unsuited to the two or so minutes allotted for a debate presentation, or the forty-five seconds allowed for rejoinders. Similarly it doesn’t seem possible to accomplish this feat in fifteen or thirty seconds of t.v.commercials.
I would suggest that Clinton list the key components of her argument and break down her television advertising, and campaign stumping, into segments addressing only one or two items on her list at a time. Above all, she must differentiate herself from Donald Trump’s hypocrisy on the issue as well his lack of programs to support and retrain the workers displaced from their jobs. This will require a bold new program for Hillary to promote, and she should give a lot of consideration as to how the program is titled. All in all a mighty challenge for her, but one she will have to conquer if she is to win the race for the presidency.
I will offer some suggestions for how to accomplish all of this in future posts.