The Liberal Base Not Sold on Clinton

Hillary encounters criticism at Netroots Nation

Hillary Clinton / AP
June 24, 2013

Progressives at the 2013 Netroots Nation conference were not entirely supportive of Hillary Clinton being selected as the Democrats’ 2016 presidential nominee.

Clinton, who has yet to publicly comment on her presidential aspirations, is widely considered the Democrats’ leading contender for 2016, despite a cloud of controversy that has trailed her since she left the State Department in February.

Washington Free Beacon interviews with a random selection of Netroots activists in San Jose revealed that while most broadly like Clinton, they are by no means fully sold on the idea of President Hillary.

"Looking at Hillary, especially in foreign policy, she really scares me," said a man who called himself "Stan Everyman."

"If she’s slightly to the right of Obama on foreign policy that really scares me," Mr. Everyman said. "It scares me on a lot of issues. I don’t see her as an alterative but more of the corporate Democratic Party."

"I think Hillary is just a continuation" of Obama, he said, noting that this is not a positive attribute.

Anti-Israel activist Darlene Wallach agreed.

"I don’t think there’s any of them that are decent," said Wallach, who was carrying a sign urging boycotts of the Jewish state.

"They’re all politicians and they’re all beholden to corporations," she said. "I thought she was terrible anyway when she was running" in 2008 against then-Sen. Barack Obama.

"She’s beholden to who has the money," added Wallach, criticizing Clinton for her massive fundraising prowess.

Netroots attendees are viewed as a critical and much-coveted segment of the Democratic Party. Their less-than-enthusiastic support for a possible Clinton run could be a sign of early trouble for the possible candidate.

"I’m ready to support Hillary Clinton but I have a long memory and the one concern I have is when Hillary was engaged in the campaign with Barack Obama her camp dipped into the tropes of racism and used some of the coded words," said Kimberly "Dr. Goddess" Ellis Ph.D., an expert in "new age liberation ideology," at a Netroots panel titled,  "Ask a Sista: Black Women Muse on Politics, Policy, Pop Culture, and Scholarship."

Fellow panelist Jenifer Daniels also had her doubts.

"I would like … to see Hillary bring us [black activists] into the fold, how we can still be at the table but fight for other issues ... beyond the normal" ones associated with the black community, Daniels said.

Some progressives were hesitant to back Clinton because they feel she is too deeply entrenched in the corporate political world, she said.

"I know some people probably don’t want the Clintons back in [office] because there’s not enough grassroots support, because I really think it’s the grassroots support that helped get the president in, and [Clinton] was more towards the corporate money," Vicki said.

"I think that might be what some of it is," Vicki added, noting that, for her, it is not an issue that would prevent her from backing Clinton.

Despite Clinton’s early frontrunner status, "it’s not locked in stone she’ll be the nominee," concluded Chris Kendrick, a Daily Kos contributor.

"There’s issues of her health," Kendrick added. "I don’t think Republicans did anything but raise her profile with the whole Benghazi thing. I also don’t think Republicans have any right to pick their opponent."

Still, "the sense would be she is, yet again, as she was in 2008, the frontrunner," he said. "But I also think based on what happened in 2008 she will in fact be crowned."