The Clinton-Sanders New Majority Coalition
After Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) narrow victory in Michigan Tuesday, preceded by vigorous debates and competition, it might appear that Sanders and Hillary Clinton are about to begin a more divisive campaign for the presidency in the coming months.
I beg to differ.
I expect, instead, a campaign, while intense and competitive, that will result in a historic political realignment in America, with a united Democratic Party in a position to create a new majority coalition for years to come.
These two Democratic candidates have more in common than meets the eye. I submit that Clinton and Sanders agree on the following five core principles that collectively represent a new ideological hybrid, one that polling data prove constitute a majority of today’s voters in both parties.
Government as a solution, but not the only one, to America’s problems: This includes reducing today’s severe income disparities with tax cuts for the middle class and tax increases for the wealthy; increasing the minimum wage; guaranteed universal healthcare; environmental and clean energy measures to reverse global warming before it is too late; insistence on fair trade if there is to be free trade with foreign nations; comprehensive immigration reform guaranteeing a pathway to citizenship over time for eligible undocumented workers; and massive government investment in the decaying infrastructure.
A strong private sector as the engine of economic growth and job creation: This includes encouraging private-sector growth, especially small business, but accompanied by reasonable regulations; ensuring that no bank or corporation is too big to fail with executives who are too powerful to go to jail; and a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, explicitly preventing powerful corporate interests and the super-wealthy from corrupting our political process with secret, unaccountable campaign donations.
Protection of individual liberties and privacy rights from excessive invasion by government: This includes protection of religious individual liberty; the right of a woman to choose concerning termination of a pregnancy; protection from unreasonable government intrusion on privacy rights, while still allowing the courts to supervise and permit protective measures against terrorism; and protecting the constitutional right of private gun ownership while allowing for common-sense regulations and background checks.
Restraint in U.S. foreign military interventions: This includes opposing the U.S. unilaterally acting as the world’s policeman and “nation builder” for democracies, thus avoiding any unilateral U.S. military intervention except as a last resort to protect risks to American security — and only after consultation and, if possible, approval by Congress.
Civility and bipartisan solutions in Washington: This includes a commitment to civility in Washington, to disagree agreeably and to seek common ground and bipartisan, fact-based solutions between the two parties. This may be the most important demand of most voters across the political spectrum; the contrast in the Donald Trump/Ted Cruz/Marco Rubio food fight and repulsive nastiness is another reason for this.
Reviewing these five principles together — belief in government, belief in the private sector, belief in protecting individual liberty and privacy rights, restraint in U.S. intervention and military engagements abroad, and bipartisanship and civility in government — I believe Clinton and Sanders agree on virtually all of them. (Full disclosure: I believe Clinton’s experience and qualifications and ability to get things done in Washington would make her the far superior nominee for the Democratic Party.)
In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal, based on a philosophy that a strong federal government was needed to get America out of the Great Depression. From 1992 to 2001, the New Democrat philosophy of Bill Clinton combined FDR’s belief in government with policies that spurred the private sector to help create 23 million new jobs. From 2008 to 2016, Barack Obama continued former President Clinton’s economic success of record numbers of new jobs created on the heels of a severe economic crisis, and — finally — in partnership with a Democratic Congress, created a healthcare program that can lead to universal healthcare protection for all Americans.
Now, in 2016, if the Democratic Party candidate runs on a platform endorsing most or all of these five principles that combine elements that span the political spectrum, as I believe will be the case, I have little to no doubt that on Jan. 20, 2017, the new Democratic Party president will lead a new governing majority coalition for years to come.
Lanny Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, and Executive Vice President of the strategic communications firm, LEVICK. He is the author of a recently published book,Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life (Threshold Editions/Simon and Schuster).