Did Democrats “Clear the Field” for Hillary Clinton in 2016?

Dennis Van Tine/UPPA via ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

There are pros and cons to being a blogger. One of the cons is that when you ask a question that shows off your ignorance, the entire world gets to see it. Let’s do it anyway.

Question: What exactly do people mean when they say that the Democratic establishment “cleared the field” for Hillary Clinton in 2016? I can think of various definitions of this, ranked from least to most objectionable:

  1. HRC had lots of money and lots of support, and that scared everyone else away.
  2. Democratic bigwigs actively lobbied prospective candidates to stand down.
  3. HRC made various promises to superdelegates, but only if they’d support her and make sure that everyone knew they wouldn’t switch.
  4. The establishment threatened prospective candidates in concrete ways if they showed interest in running.

#1 is meaningless. Someone is always the frontrunner. #2 is more active, but also a nothingburger. #3 is worse, depending on what kind of promises were made. #4 would be clearly beyond the pale.

So what is it? I’m not plugged into the gossip circuit, but I was paying attention during 2015 when candidates were thinking about running. I don’t recall hearing about anything untoward during that time. In fact, what I mostly heard were laments about how thin the Democratic bench was. Anyone care to help out here? I especially want to hear from Bernie supporters who feel like the Democratic establishment screwed them.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend