What now for progressives after Hillary Clinton’s loss?

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What now for progressives after Hillary Clinton’s loss?

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “What now for progressives after Hillary Clinton’s loss?” was written by Lauren Gambino in New York, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 9th November 2016 19.04 UTC

Liberal activists had been preparing for months to hold a President Hillary Clinton’s feet to the fire and make sure she stuck to the bold progressive agenda that had emerged from her bruising primary battle with leftwing senator Bernie Sanders.

Instead, on issues as varied as Wall Street reform, climate change, women’s rights and criminal justice, they now face their worst-case scenario: a Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress.

Clinton had called herself “a progressive who likes to get things done” during her primary campaign against Sanders, emphasizing what she saw as her ability to work within the system to effect change. He eventually helped pull her to the left on a slate of progressive priorities, including trade, banking reform and debt-free college. Clinton decided she opposed the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) despite having laid the groundwork for the deal as secretary of state.

But it was Sanders’ branding of her as “establishment” that stuck, a scarlet letter in a year when a populist, anti-establishment tide swept US politics and eventually delivered the White House to Donald Trump.

Perhaps progressives will find common ground with a Trump administration on issues of international trade. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, suggested on Wednesday that the parties might be able to come together over an infrastructure plan that would invest in rebuilding roads and bridges and well as bringing broadband to rural communities.

Hillary Clinton concession speech: ‘I know it’s painful’

But everything else remains uncertain.

For the last several months, liberal advocacy groups were tempted by the prospect that the question about progressive policies was not a “what if” but a “how bold”.

In keeping with Elizabeth Warren’s mantra that “personnel is policy”, progressives and like-minded advocacy groups had begun exerting pressure over which candidates Clinton considered for key economic posts.

The Roosevelt Institute, a New York thinktank, spent countless hours identifying progressive and diverse candidates to fill key appointments in a Clinton administration. The group had whittled a pool that began with more than 1,000 names down to roughly 150 geographically and ethnically diverse candidates that they have sent to Clinton’s transition team – and Clinton’s team had welcomed the input.

Now it’s unclear whether that work was all for nothing.

“This is not a left v right country any longer, in many respects,” said Robert Reich, a secretary of labor under the Clinton administration who supported Sanders during the primary.

“The anti-establishment is growing. The question for the future: do we move in the direction of authoritarian anti-establishment, such as Donald Trump has created, with all of its ugliness and hatred? Or do we move in the direction of a progressive, more hopeful, anti-establishment movement like the one championed by Bernie Sanders? I think the answer speaks for itself.”

Clinton, a pragmatist from the center-left who prefers deal-making and incremental change, was always going to be an odd fit for the moment. But with her defeat, it’s unclear how the progressive movement, propelled by young people, will be able to harness and leverage the energy over the last 18 months.

“To the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this,” Clinton said in her concession speech on Wednesday. “This loss hurts. But please, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

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