Friday, April 10, 2015
Here She Comes
It seems that the Republicans' worst nightmare is about to materialize, as Hillary plans to announce her candidacy as early as this weekend. This will put a damper on Marco Rubio's coming out party planned for Monday. The Republicans have been preparing for this. The scandal they generated around her e-mails is just the latest in orchestrated attacks on her, launched under the guise of investigations. None of this mudslinging seems to stick, as Hillary leads all GOP challengers in polls, although some state polls have become toss-ups.
Hillary has her detractors in the Democratic party as well, yet only three persons have expressed interest in running for the nomination. Martin O'Malley, the popular governor of Maryland, is the most intriguing alternative at this point, but like most Democratic wannabes he suffers from name recognition. The only person who could mount a serious challenge is Elizabeth Warren, but she seems to be sitting this election out.
Many of us hoped we got a fresh start with the Obama administration, but here we are two election cycles later with Hillary and Jeb Bush the front runners in their respective parties. We can't seem to shake these political dynasties as much as we would like. Unfortunately, the Democrats failed to generate any new names besides Warren in the past 8 years. So, Hillary has become the Democrat nominee virtually by default unless something cataclysmic were to occur.
It would be nice to think that Hillary has changed to some degree since 2008, when she ran on a very conservative platform, appealing to the middle ground. Obama has offered a major realignment in foreign policy, first by easing travel restrictions on Cuba and now by negotiating with Iran on a nuclear agreement that would lift American sanctions if Iran accepts the safeguards being proposed. Given her hawkish views in the past, it would be nice to think that Hillary would embrace this new direction in American policy, but so far she's been mum on the subject, waiting to see which way public opinion turns.
Domestically, there isn't much difference between the Obama administration and a prospective Hillary administration, as much of his cabinet was drawn from the previous Clinton administration. Expanded health care had originally been the centerpiece of her candidacy in 2008. If anything, Hillary might be a little more bold in this regard, especially as far as the rights of women are concerned. Where the two do differ is over alternative energy sources. Obama has been much more active in this regard, but there is nothing to suggest that Hillary wouldn't pursue similar sustainable energy initiatives if elected President.
Democrats would probably benefit from an uneventful set of primaries. The Republicans will most likely tear themselves apart, allowing Hillary to reserve her war chest and patience for the general election. This is what Mitt Romney hoped to do last time around, but it didn't work out that way. However, the Teabaggers were determined to present their alternatives.
The Democratic Party has a disgruntled base which would like to see a more liberal president. Left wing blogs have been busily promoting Bernie Sanders, but he is nothing more than a left wing Ron Paul. Hillary will have to reach out to this disaffected group, which appeared to sit out the 2012 election, as Obama got 3,5 million fewer votes than he did in 2008. Liberal democrats were even more a no show in the 2014 midterms, which saw Republicans sweep Congressional and state elections, even in Massachusetts.
The only way for Hillary to do this is to make more of an effort to appeal to young voters by enlisting some of the more popular and energetic young leaders in the DNP. The last thing Hillary wants is to look old. The Republicans have at least one candidate who appeals to the youth vote - Rand Paul - who has been winning over college campuses around the country.
She also needs to keep Bill on a short leash. He cost her dearly in 2008, often times looking like he was running for President on the campaign trail. His popularity largely rests on he no longer being President. Hillary has to make a clear break here, because Americans aren't overly excited by dynastic politics. She has to present herself as fresh and inspiring.
Like many Democrats, I had hoped someone else would emerge as a front runner, but I'm relatively comfortable with Hillary, especially when I look at the GOP alternatives. That's enough to send shivers down any true Democrat's spine. Time to stop the petty wrangling and coalesce behind a national leader that can turn over the Senate and swing a few state governments back over into the blue column. I think Hillary can do that with the right message and campaign staff, headed by Robby Mook.