Trump’s collapse in the polls, and the ensuing disarray in Republican ranks, has emboldened Clinton’s progressive critics, who believe the window to pressure her into being a more progressive president will close once she’s elected next month.
“If there is ever a time for you to put principle in front of party and start criticizing the Democratic candidate, to start pressuring them to actually become a meaningful alternative, this is it,” wrote the progressive critic Freddie DeBoer. “You get to decide in the next couple weeks: you can stand for a party or you can stand for principles.”
The latest disclosure of leaked Democratic Party emails—hacked, according to multiple federal intelligence agencies, by Russian intelligence operatives seeking to influence the outcome of the coming election—has provided abundant source material to critics who see things the same way DeBoer does.
There’s plenty of interesting information to be gleaned from the leaks, and presumably more interesting information to be gleaned from future ones, which can be pieced together to create a fuller, clearer picture of the fairly full, clear picture we have of Clinton. But if you’re going to take an instrumentalist approach to writing about Clinton, it’s worth asking whether this particular approach—vehement criticism at the height of the campaign—is an effective strategy for shaping governance, as DeBoer suggests.
For instance, criticizing Clinton as a form of progressive advocacy could nudge her issue positions slightly left, or affect staff-hiring considerations, but it could also narrow her victory margin enough to preserve Republican control of the Senate or House, which would be horribly contrary to the goal of moving federal policy in a more progressive direction.
This is obviously distinct from the question of how campaign journalists who cover Clinton should approach the leaks (accurately, proportionately, without fear or favor); or how people who want to undermine Clinton will interpret them (as ungenerously as possible). But progressive Clinton critics who support her reluctantly, or who don’t support her but hope for the progressive-most outcome in November, are likely working against interest if they treat the election as a foregone conclusion and go to town.