Hillary must resist the temptation to Triangulate

By ann summers


More surprising is that there is a literature going back to 2010 urging that the Democratic party move past the linear model of political triangulation as a strategic messaging option.

There are serious reasons why Hillary’s triangulating her WV coal gaffe was a bad move since she then had to bring her husband forward to counter the criticism which ultimately may prove more costly in the long run. The recent NV delegate fight demonstrates that this contentiousness is not serving the party well.

Similarly Katrina Vandenheuvel’s recent op-ed in WaPo expresses the same progressive concerns and prescribes a strategy based as many including that noted dope-smoking loser, David Brooks stated recently, that HRC should not move to the center in the General Election.

More importantly the downticket races should not be ignored as they were by the triangulators of 2010 and 2014. Often PBO has been hamstrung by the need to default to those remaining centrist forces in the DNC as they triangulated away from the White House to fight the ‘baggers.

The sox/rux battles, as amusing and sometimes baffling they are in disinformation (if were there thrown chairs in NV, why isn’t there a cellphone video) are symptomatic of the kinds of triangulating, reactionary, and polarizing silliness all too frequently found online – some intentional, some quite ignorantly unidimensional. And then there’s the politically naive zealotry of new voters and using social media to troll threats:

RS: So you and your boyfriend were watching this all unfold online from your home in another state?

This is our first primary. Just because of my age, the first thing we’ve gotten to participate in was a prime presidential primary, and so the emotions [ran high]. I’ve got a group of friends, we all like to watch the debates together. We’ve all just graduated recently, so this is our first primary to be a part of. We get emotional about this stuff…. People on Twitter have told me that I hate women, that I’m a white supremacist — have called me all sorts of things. You know, I supported Hillary at the very beginning of this primary season before I found out who Bernie Sanders was. And, like I said, I’m just one person. I don’t have any affiliation with anybody.

But we live in an age of perfect storms where libertarians think that they can function without a social contract in a pluralist democracy and “independent” voters are simply indecisive because of a two-party duopoly at the district level. As binary as choices may present themselves, dimensions like race and class are far more nuanced in 2016.

Even HRC’s sobriquet, “…a progressive who gets things done.”, semantically presumes as triangulation, that progressives, because of some putative idealism, don’t get things done.

Such triangulation strategies cost the party the 2000 and 2004 elections and at the global level even more people died who didn’t have to as a result of meaningless GOP wars.

History should not have to repeat that error in 2016 by strategically triangulating on a negative favorability margin.

Getting things done and being progressive are not mutually exclusive and the result isn’t a third way because there is no “reasonable center” no matter how one triangulates it.

The theory that Clinton would benefit by tacking to the center also misinterprets the lessons of the primaries and misreads what independent voters want. Sanders mounted a strong primary challenge by rejecting the bipartisan consensus on matters such as trade policy, an issue that Trump has effectively exploited as well. These deviations from the centrist orthodoxy do not merely appeal to voters on the left. They are part of why Sanders polls better than Clinton among independents and in hypothetical matchups against Trump.


At the presidential level, the strategic calculus should be straightforward. Democrats have demographics on their side due largely to their massive advantage with minorities and women, who make up a growing share of the electorate. But as progressive activist and pundit Van Jones has argued, Trump “can’t be beaten by assuming that demographics are going to save us.” Instead, Clinton’s fate will depend on her ability to ensure that large numbers of Democratic voters vote. For that reason, her top priority should be maximizing turnout among the constituencies that are most likely to support her over Trump, which means embracing a more progressive agenda.







The act of a political candidate presenting his or her views as being above and between the left and right sides of the political spectrum. It’s sometimes called the “third way.”

The term was first used by political consultant Dick Morris while working on the re-election campaign of President Clinton in 1996. Morris urged Clinton to adopt a set of policies that were different from the traditional policies of the Democratic Party in order to co-opt the opposition.

This entry was posted in 2016 Election, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Campaign Finance, Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, DNC, Fascists/Corporatists, Free Speech, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, History, Homosexual Rights, Immigrants, Jimmy Carter, Liberals, Libertarians, Media, Nazis/Nazism, Neoconservatives, Neoliberals, Non-partisans, Political Science, Politics, Presidential Elections, Progressives, Racism, Reproductive Rights, RNC, Ronald Reagan, Society, State Government, States, Tea Party, Trolls, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hillary must resist the temptation to Triangulate

  1. What the average voter, low information or not, forgets is the fact a President has no true intrinsic power. The primary power comes, as Teddy Roosevelt said, from the “bully pulpit.”

    The House controls spending and the Senate controls appointments. If the President has any true power, it is the ability to appoint Supreme Court justices. Even then, and as we are seeing currently, that is at the whim of the Senate Majority Leader. In this case it is Mitch “Box Turtle” McConnell. If down ticket races ever were important, it is now. It is one reason the Republicans have been in a wad over what a President Trump might do with regard to SCOTUS appointments. Hence, we see the very strange press release today about who he might appoint. Even so, he managed to slip in a couple of conservatives who tend to be more or less fair and even handed in their rulings….the last thing the hard core wants.

    Folks, this election is not about Bernie or Hillary. It is about the next two or three lawyers who don those black robes in the SCOTUS building.

  2. wordcloud9 says:

    I agree Chuck – look at the rulings from the Roberts court – Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, gutting Voting Rights and crippling Roe v Wade – 4 to 8 years of a Republican president appointing justices would be the end of our Republic. The only part of the Bill of Rights we’d still have would be the “right” to be shot by gun-toting extremists.

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