Bracketed by "Brave" by Sara Bareilles and "Fighters" by Kris Allen, standing on a podium formatted to look like her own logo, Hillary Clinton flung heaps of delicious red meat to a crowd of supporters on Roosevelt Island in New York this afternoon. It was a rally to launch her already-launched presidential campaign with a lengthy, if rather vague, statement of her intentions as president.
It was not a bad speech by any means, though any libertarian is going to struggle to find much to support in her platform (her immigration position, perhaps). It was full of left populist talking points about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are stagnating and completely unironic complaints about how the Republicans are serving the needs of rich corporations and not the public.
She reiterated several more specific positions that we've analyzed here at Reason. She said she wants to create a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally. Shikha Dalmia analyzed the political acumen of taking such a position here. She called for higher pay and also a "right" to paid sick days and family leave. Peter Suderman recently highlighted the unintended consequences of such practices, which turn out to be not favorable to women at all. She devoted one whole sentence to criminal justice reform shuffled into a section on policies that affect families, saying "Unequal rates of incarceration are a family issue." I hasten to point out that this is not the same as saying that we're putting too many people in prison, just that the proportions are wrong. She had nothing to say about the drug war other than a mention in this same section about how families should have access to addiction treatment. She said she wants to "make college affordable and available to all and lift the crushing burden of student debt." Presumably, then, she's in favor of eliminating the thousands upon thousands of college bureaucratic and administrative jobs that have grown enormously over the past two decades, because that's what would be necessary. But probably not. I bet any number of folks in those positions were in that very crowd cheering her on and donating to her campaign.
She had nothing of any substance to say about foreign policy, despite being a former secretary of state. She said she'd "do whatever it takes to keep Americans safe," and spoke vaguely about diplomacy and America being a world leader.
She also said she'd support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, which brought huge cheers from the crowd. So she is campaigning on actually trying to make it illegal for citizens to fund documentaries to criticize her. But as is typical on the left, she played it off as though Citizens United is about "corporations buying elections," which nobody has ever proven is happening. And isn't that insulting to the voters? Everybody cheered and waved their flags while Clinton essentially told them they are too stupid to decide who to vote for on their own and just line up for whomever spends the most money. It's just not true.
Anyway, what I found interesting about her speech is that anything that sounded remotely specific could have come directly out of President Barack Obama's mouth. She played up investments in renewable energy, fighting income inequality, even improving broadband standards. As Obama's tenure comes to an end, it's been an open question as to where the Democratic Party would be turning. Yes, Obama had positions, of course, but his base of support has revolved around the man himself, what he represented, and his cult of personality that protected him from criticism. So what happens when he steps down? It looks as though Clinton is offering to continue on exactly the way things are now. Her emphasis on being a "fighter" is to signal that she can withstand the media criticism that Obama never received.
Clinton's speech was about an hour long, and the whole speech is not available online as yet (Update: here is the full text of the speech). Here's a clip from Reuters below: