Currently the top vote-getter out of every candidate from either party, Hillary Clinton is poised to be the next president of the United States.
Of course, Clinton still has a long way to go. Bernie Sanders has posed a serious challenge from her left, and is expected to win many of the remaining primaries (on Tuesday he won Idaho and Utah, while Clinton took Arizona). If she beats Sanders, she will have to face a Republican candidate in the general election with an energized base and a radically different view for the best direction of the country.
Hillary Clinton is a center-left Democrat. Yet, the question of who Hillary Clinton is has become more pointed as campaign season has worn on, with the Sanders campaign constantly accusing her of holding the liberal positions that are most electable. It cannot be denied that Clinton faces different pressures than the average candidate, running as a woman and a former First Lady. It also cannot be refuted that where she stands today on certain policies can be attributed to how she has “evolved” on them.
Clinton is pro-choice, although in 2000 she did say late-term abortions should only be allowed if the health of the mother is at risk. Clinton has been quoted saying abortions should be “safe, legal and rare,” emphasizing that pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. Clinton has advocated for the Women in Public Service Project, which hopes to make sure half of the country’s elected officials are women by 2050. She has also made equal pay for women a staple of her stump speech.
“The fundamental bedrock principle that [marriage] exists between a man and a woman…as one of the founding, foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization…its primary, principal role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society into which they are to become adults,” Clinton said in 2004. In 2007 Clinton said states should decide gay marriage laws. Her opinion has changed and she now speaks out in support of gay marriage and LGBT rights. However, in 2010 Clinton fought against a provision that would have replaced “Mother” and “Father” with “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” in passport application forms.
In 2014, Clinton said she “re-evaluated” her view on gay marriage.
Clinton is a proponent of affirmative action and claims stricter voter ID laws disproportionately affect minorities. The NAACP rated Clinton’s record at 96 percent, and the ACLU rated her at 60 percent, judging her for an inconsistent civil rights voting record.
Clinton has swept through the South, winning convincing victories against Sanders on the strength of black voter support. Critics have pointed out that during her husband’s presidency there was “the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history,” according to The Nation. An overwhelming majority of these inmates were black. This is, in part, due to a harsh crime bill imposed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, which Clinton supported and Sanders voted in favor too.
What Clinton said during the promotion period for the bill remains as an example of racially-coded rhetoric used by politicians. She has since backtracked from the comments, chalking them up to unfortunate wording.
“They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel,” Clinton said at the time.
During this election cycle, Clinton has argued for police officers wearing body cameras and to stop imprisoning marijuana users. She has offered a plan to prohibit racial profiling, eradicate private prisons and put a stop to the sentencing incongruities between cocaine and crack.
Clinton’s biggest weakness during this campaign has been her relationship with Wall Street. Sanders has continuously hammered her from the left and forced her to address income inequality publicly. Take this exchange from an earlier debate when Martin O’Malley was still in the race as an example:
“I represented Wall Street, as a senator from New York, and I went to Wall Street in December of 2007 – before the big crash that we had – and I said, ‘cut it out! Quit foreclosing on homes! Quit engaging in these kinds of speculative behaviors.’ I took on the Bush administration for the same thing. My plan would have the potential of actually sending the executives to jail. Nobody went to jail after $100 billion in fines were paid.” Clinton said.
“In my view, Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress. And we have gotta break up these banks,” Sanders said.
“Madam Secretary, you are not for Glass-Steagall. You are not for putting a firewall between this speculative, risky shadow banking behavior. I am, and the people of our country need a president who's on their side, willing to protect the Main Street economy from recklessness on Wall Street,” O’Malley said.
Clinton was and is a proponent of bailing out AIG and Lehman Brothers.
“AIG was not a big bank. It had to be bailed out and it nearly destroyed us. Lehman Brothers was not a big bank. It was an investment bank. And its bankruptcy and its failure nearly destroyed us,” Clinton said.
Clinton has said that those who make under $250,000 a year should not face tax increases, and she plans to raise taxes on the wealthy, although not as much as Sanders.
Another prominent progressive, Senator Elizabeth Warren, has attacked Clinton’s susceptibility to money in politics.
In the 90s, when Clinton was First Lady and Warren was a Harvard professor, Clinton sought Warren’s advice on a bankruptcy bill. Warren convinced Clinton that the bill was awful for single mothers, and Clinton subsequently rallied against it. Her husband later vetoed it.
Yet, as Senator Clinton, after having received $140,000 in contributions from the banking industry, she voted in favor of an almost identical bill.
Clinton is a proponent of a $12 minimum wage.
Climate change, gun control and healthcare
Clinton officially opposes the Keystone Pipeline, recognizes global warming as a threat and has worked with China on a climate change deal.
Clinton is a staunch believer in increased gun control. She has contended for the reversal of gun manufacturer immunity, and hopes to make it more difficult for criminals trying to obtain firearms.
Universal health care, Clinton once said, “is a core Democratic principle.” As president, she plans to expand the Affordable Care Act.
Foreign policy and immigration
It is Clinton’s view that undocumented immigrant children should be included in state college tuition and healthcare coverage. Clinton often calls for “comprehensive reform” of immigration laws, is against turning local police into immigration enforcers and is for a path to citizenship.
Clinton has advocated for human rights as Secretary of State and stabilized the U.S.’s relationship with China. She had a role in the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Clinton’s plan for more affordable college education involves the spending of $350 billion during a 10-year period. According to Forbes, the plan includes: “Grants to states that pledge to invest more of their own money in public colleges and universities; grants to institutions (public and private) that enroll low-income students; lower interest rates for student loan borrowers; interest subsidies for existing borrowers that ‘refinance’ their loans; more spending on childcare for student-parents; and more."
Clinton and her now-frequent rival Donald Trump have the highest net negative ratings since 1984, when negative ratings were first polled.
That being said, Clinton leads Sanders by over 300 pledged delegates, with 1,214 to his 901. Sanders isn’t finished, but Clinton is in legitimate position to become the first female president of the U.S.