If you want a sense of what Democrats are likely to be up to for the foreseeable future, look no further than Hillary Clinton's campaign. The former Secretary of State has rolled out proposal after proposal detailing, or at least sketching, all the ways she'd change federal policy through executive action or urge Congress to legislate. And in doing so, she's defined the current state of the liberal agenda—and its likely path in coming years.
Here's just a brief summary of some of the policies her campaign has come out in favor of so far: On campaign finance, Clinton would like to see legislation requiring politically active organizations to disclose donors, and the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision overturned. On energy policy, she's laid out goals for increased use of renewable energy in homes and a major expansion of solar power. On higher education, she wants the federal government to provide grants to states that commit to ensuring that students at public, four-year universities never have to borrow to pay for tuition, books, and course fees. On primary education, she wants to spend more on Head Start and related programs while providing federal funding for universal preschool. On health care, Clinton wants to keep Obamacare in place but tweak it in a variety of ways: ending the Cadillac tax on high-end health plans, reducing deductibles for many health plans via a slew of new mandates and a tax subsidy for out of pocket costs, and using the federal government's bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices. On financial sector regulation, she wants to charge big banks for their size and give regulators greater authority to break them up, while setting up a new tax on high-frequency trading.
This is just a sample. There's more, much more, on her issues page and in fact sheets, covering everything from overhauling the immigration system to additional efforts intended to address sexual assault on college campuses.
One obvious connection between her various policy ideas is that, in almost every case, they involve more regulation, more spending, more taxation; Clinton is committed to the use of federal power, and as the Democratic party's standard bearer in waiting, she's making it clear that Democrats are the party of government.
But what's also notable is that there's almost no innovation here—nothing surprising or particularly unique, nothing risky or unusual. Clinton's policy agenda is a carefully curated compendium of liberal conventional wisdom.
To some extent, that's probably a result of Clinton's character and her cautious approach to politics. But it's also a product of Clinton's long history with the party, her unusually strong front-runner status, and the expectations she carries as a result. Because she is so overwhelmingly favored to win, and because she has been such a major player in the party for so long, she has little room to maneuver or be creative.
Which means that yes, Clinton is laying out the liberal agenda, and in some sense defining it. But in another way, she's also being defined by it.