It’s Torture for Hickenlooper to Say He’s a Capitalist

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D.) gave two painful interviews this week about whether he, a successful businessman and entrepreneur, was a capitalist.

The recently announced 2020 presidential candidate is selling himself as a pragmatic politician who will accomplish progressive goals and not just make lofty promises about them.

In spite of his acclaimed business background, however, he repeatedly ducked Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough's questions about it on Friday, saying he didn't like labels after getting three opportunities to identify himself that way. Scarborough said in the next segment that the Democratic Party was in a crisis when an "American success story" like Hickenlooper couldn't even call himself a capitalist.

CBS host Margaret Brennan gave him the opportunity to redeem himself on Sunday's Face The Nation, and after several minutes of quizzing, he finally said he was "happy" to call himself one. Brennan looked almost pained at times as Hickenlooper nervously laughed several times during the exchange, although she agreed with his notion that "labels do nothing but divide us."

It's the sign of the times in the Democratic Party. Endorsement of the defining economic system of the United States risks alienating the rising left flank that backs candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), a democratic socialist who has the strongest support in the polls of any declared 2020 presidential candidate.

Things change. In a 2009 book by his ex-wife, Hickenlooper is described as introducing himself as a capitalist to people.