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The Democratic Leadership Council, a pro-Democratic Party establishment, argues that Clintonism "stands for economic growth and opportunity; for fiscal responsibility; for work, not welfare; for preventing crime and punishing criminals; and for non-bureaucratic, empowering government" and further says that these policies are key to the successes in the beginning of the 21st century.
On the other hand, some critics of Clinton associate Clintonism with "coddling big money (except guns and tobacco), financial scandals, winning at any cost, flip-flopping and prevaricating".
Clintonism refers to the political faction of the United States Democratic Party centered on former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former First Lady, U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic Nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, both in their times in office and subsequently. This faction is also thought to include journalist Sidney Blumenthal, Democratic National Committee Chairman Steven Grossman, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, Treasury Department Secretary Robert Rubin, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
While the primary qualification is being aligned with or part of the web of political and donor connections associated with the Clintons, the ideology of the faction can be said in broad outline to favor certain policies:
- Free trade: Bill Clinton supported and worked to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement and create the World Trade Organization. Free trade was an essential component of his economic policy.
- Balanced budget: Clintonism is associated with restraining the growth of federal spending, in order to allow lower interest rates and freer monetary policy.
- Greater willingness to use and fund the military and show up a willingness to compromise on social issues such as abortion and LGBT rights.
- Reform or reduction of some government programs, exemplified by the ending of Aid to Families with Dependent Children as part of welfare reform.
- Internationalism, particularly the expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The ideology is sometimes thought of as part of the Third Way, a brand of politics that is said to include (at the time or since) Prime Minister Tony Blair's New Labour in the United Kingdom, the Liberal Party in Canada, and the Social Democratic Party in Germany under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
- "Clintonism Lives", Blueprint, January 18, 2002.
- "Democrats Suffer From a Bad Case of Clintonism", Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2000.