If you doubted for whatever reason Hillary Clinton’s ability to triangulate, the candidate appeared in a crowded union hall in Las Vegas on Thursday to show she’s still got it.
As Donald Trump continues his self-immolation tour, Clinton continued building her steady, strategic case for why she’s the only person on the national stage who could serve as president. Not least among her reasons: something for everyone!
This week, it was blue-collar workers, the kind of people one might usually find in her chosen venue, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 357. Before she went before a crowd there, she toured Mojave Electric, where apprenticeship and training programs are giving people without college degrees a chance at a middle-class wage and life.
We need more skills training for more Americans, Clinton said, as four years from now, half of all jobs won’t require a college degree, but rather some kind of technical know-how. High schools (and, presumably, community colleges) need to start providing that kind of training, she said.
It was remarkably similar to the message of Marco Rubio, who said he wanted to be the vocational education president. It also mirrored the message delivered to Nevada’s delegation at the Republican National Committee in Cleveland by John Ratzenberger, aka Cliff Clavin, who has spent a part of his post-“Cheers” fame promoting American manufacturing and the people who do it.
“Actors, politicians, sports celebrities, journalists are not essential,” Ratzenberger opined. But if plumbers, bricklayers, airplane mechanics and other technical employees don’t show up to work, civilization would screech to a halt.
Apparently, Clinton is a convert, which in itself is inoffensive. The fact is, four-year college degrees are not for everyone, although divining who has college potential and who doesn’t is a critical juncture in high-school.
But it’s equally true that Clinton is persuaded of the need to reach out to the white, working-class voters in building her electoral coalition. With would-be college students (debt-free tuition) and recent students (interest-rate recalculations) checked off the list, vocational education fits nicely into her plan.
It’s also a strategic move against Trump. She was quick to remind her listeners that Trump had stiffed working people who’d worked for him, that he’d outsourced the manufacturing of his textiles and furniture to other nations (notwithstanding his newfound protectionism). And while the nation’s homeowners saw their wealth destroyed, Trump was scheming to profit, Clinton said.
“What was Donald Trump doing? He was thinking about himself,” she said. (As opposed, one presumes, to the nation’s many elected officials who had eased banking regulations that helped pave the way for the recession, at least one of whom shares a last name with Hillary Clinton, whose thoughts were undoubtedly about the plight of the newly dispossessed.)
Clinton struck one more familiar theme, one which helped her into the U.S. Senate in New York in 2000 — the listening tour. She’s embarking on a nationwide outreach to register new voters, reaching out to the anxious, fearful or angry. “We need to talk,” she said. “We don’t want you being sold the same bill of goods as the students who signed up to go to Trump University.
“I’ll be back here,” Clinton promised. “I want to have a dialogue with Americans, and not just during the election.” There are many good policy ideas out there, she added, and she’s eager to hear them.
Delightful! There’s a gentleman from Vermont who’s very big into a health-care reform plan that would do away entirely with the insurance companies that have dominated every discussion on the subject in the past few decades. And he’d undoubtedly be eager to discuss that … if only he could find someone willing to hear about it.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702 387-5276 or SSebelius@reviewjournal.com.