Progressives Are Still Trying To Buy Their Ticket To Clintonia

Washington is weird.

WASHINGTON ― Technically, Hillary Clinton still has to campaign for the presidency and win an election that’s more than two months away.

But professional Democrats aren’t really worried about the outcome anymore. They’re confident in a Clinton rout on Nov. 8, and are spending their time and energy attempting to secure posts in the Clinton administration. And Clinton, in keeping with her sometimes-conservative, sometimes-progressive record, is sending mixed signals.

She has taken her hardest turn to the right on foreign policy, embracing some of the nastiest characters from the George W. Bush administration as newfound allies. Economic policy and Wall Street reform, which dominated the Democratic Party primary, have all but disappeared from the general election as the campaign focuses its attacks on Trump’s erratic strongman personality.

But some progressives are pinning their hopes for future employment on the naming of Heather Boushey to Clinton’s transition team. While the rest of the squad is composed of loyalists from the days when Clinton proudly styled herself as a moderate, Boushey has been a reliably progressive economic voice within Clintonian institutions like the Center for American Progress. Her recent book Finding Time makes a strong case that family-friendly labor policies like paid leave, subsidized child care and elderly care are critical for both human development and economic growth. She has consistently promoted the interests of working people over the phantom virtues of austerity.

So while Clinton isn’t going to give Elizabeth Warren a post at the Federal Reserve, Wall Street reform advocates are hoping that Boushey can bestow important economic jobs on fellow progressives. On Sept. 14, some Wall Street reform advocates are hoping to score Gary Gensler an influential post by hosting a fundraiser for Clinton in New York City.

Gensler was the toughest financial regulator of the Obama era when he served as Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Most people have never heard of the CFTC, but in the aftermath of the 2008 banking crash, it became one of the most important institutions in Washington, responsible for regulating credit default swaps and other complex derivatives at the heart of the meltdown. He’s currently the chief financial officer of the Clinton campaign.

The fundraiser is intended to demonstrate Gensler’s political clout by drawing in donors from different phases of his career. His resume includes time on Wall Street and a stint at Bill Clinton’s Treasury, and he’s getting an assist from former Carl Levin staffer Tyler Gellasch, a man who helped make the Volcker Rule ― which bars banks from making risky securities trading for their own accounts ― become law. Last week, Gellasch sent an email to bank reform advocates and other friends encouraging them to pony up.

“This will likely be heavy on financial regulatory types, but everyone is welcome,” he wrote, according to a copy of the note obtained by The Huffington Post. Getting in the door will cost $500, while people who want to style themselves “Co-Hosts” of the event can shell out $2,000.

Gellasch declined to comment for this article.

The event is a peculiar 21st Century political paradox. Financial reform advocates believe the election is over. But they still plan to raise money for Hillary Clinton ― money she does not need ― because that is simply what you do to get a politician’s attention in the post-Citizens United era.

Even if the money mattered at this point in the campaign, bank reformers know they can’t outspend the hedge fund managers and private equity kingpins who have already given generously to Clinton’s cause. The entire affair is a signaling game in which do-gooders attempt to show they understand and can abide by the social standards expected in elite Washington. Just as dinner and dress etiquette ruled over policy-making at Versailles, so campaign finance protocol dictates power relations in American politics.