Presenting herself as a “New Democrat,” Hillary Rodham Clinton on February 6 officially proclaimed herself a candidate for the US Senate from New York state. In explaining this label, she said, “I don't believe that government is the source of all our problems or the solution to them.”
Her husband, President Bill Clinton, who was sitting behind her, has utilized similar phrases to signify the abandonment by his administration of the Democratic Party's former policies of liberal reform. Under Clinton, the Democrats have sought to position themselves as the party of fiscal austerity, whose “responsible” policies have fostered the greatest Wall Street boom in US history.
This lurch to the right was symbolized by Clinton's 1996 signing of welfare “reform” legislation that imposed sharp cuts on recipients' benefits and established time limits beyond which they are stripped of all income assistance. It has also been marked by Clinton's support for capital punishment and law-and-order measures.
In a very calculated manner, the First Lady has sought to identify her Senate campaign with these policies, making her appeal first and foremost to the privileged upper-middle-class social layers that have been enriched by the extended boom in share values and corporate profits.
Mrs. Clinton spent much of her 32-minute announcement describing herself as a deeply caring person. Referring to her recent move to New York, she said, “I may be new to the neighborhood, but I'm not new to your concerns.”