Ready for Hillary?
Kyle Palmer | Thursday, April 16, 2015
Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate for President of the United States since George H.W. Bush. Her résumé, which includes her tenure as First Lady of Arkansas and the United States, senator from New York and Secretary of State, eclipses any declared or potential candidates by far. The problem is that voters don’t seem to care much about qualifications anymore. Sure, they want candidates to have some experience in public service, but they don’t ask for much more. After all, Barack Obama was elected president after just two years in the Senate. Voters care about vision and character, and they care about candidates being in touch with average Americans. They like looking forward rather than looking back; as problematic as it may be, they want progress and change rather than stability.
Clinton’s problem in 2008 was that the Democratic Party and the country as a whole had changed since her husband was elected in 1992 and 1996. Sure, her old school approach to politics worked in New York, where she won her Senate seat and where money and establishment dominate the political scene more than anywhere else in the country. But in 2008, she experienced a rude awakening. No, Clinton wasn’t necessarily trounced (she and Obama were fairly close in vote count), but when one considers the fact that she had been a public figure for decades and was beaten by a freshman senator who had only made his debut on the national stage four years prior at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama won big and Clinton lost huge.
Why did Clinton lose? It was because she campaigned in the wrong decade. Her slogan, “Solutions for America!” was dreadfully boring compared to Obama’s “Change we can believe in.” Her logo was her name in a serif font with a stylized American flag banner as an underline, while Obama’s was forward-looking with its minimalist style of a sun rising over an American pasture inside a simple “O.” Clinton’s campaign tactics were reflective of her understanding of the American people and general lack of foresight. The only real difference between Clinton in 2008 and Clinton in 2016 is the lack of an intra-party challenge. The campaign mantra of 2008 was Clinton’s qualifications and the appeal of stability. Simply put, Hillary Clinton believed she deserved the presidency. We are dealing with the same Hillary Clinton today as we did then, except she has one more bullet on her résumé: her par-for-the-course performance as Secretary of State.
The fact of the matter is that very few in America are actually excited for Hillary. She lacks the charisma of Barack Obama or even her own husband, Bill Clinton. She lacks the liberal vision of Sen. Elizabeth Warren or former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. The primary reason why she will end up as the Democratic nominee is because there are so few alternatives willing to go against the Clinton money machine. That, and the media has flooded the airwaves with the concept of “Clinton inevitability.” Take away the disparity of campaign cash and media influence, and this race would be prime for Warren, O’Malley, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick or even Sen. Cory Booker to hop in the race and make a play similar to Obama circa 2008. Clinton is just not the type of person to inspire volunteers to put up signs and knock on doors, let alone turn voters out to the polls. Sure, many are excited at the prospect of finally electing our first woman president, but that does not necessarily mean it has to be Hillary Clinton. It’s as if the American people are waiting for a woman president and Clinton just happens to be the most convenient option.
I found it laughable that the super PAC to draft Clinton into the race was called “Ready for Hillary,” as if the country had exhausted all its other options. “Ready for Hillary” signals that America had to prepare itself for President Hillary Clinton and was finally equipped to accept her. If we are just now “Ready for Hillary,” it seems we were not “Ready for Hillary” before. I would only ask then, why we are now? Yeah, she’s hired a lot of staffers from Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaign, but has the candidate changed at all? Not really — she has not offered a vision for the future of the country, nor does she appear any more connected to the American people. Sure, Hillary will win the nomination, but only because she will be the only recognizable name on the Democratic ballot. In an ironic twist of electoral events, the Republican Party is actually offering relatable, diverse and vibrant candidates with forward-looking visions for the nation, such as first-generation American Sen. Marco Rubio and everyman Gov. Scott Walker.
America might be “Ready for Hillary,” but few seem to be excited about her. As she was in 2008, she is the anti-Obama. She represents the establishment that would rather protect old money and retain the status quo than promote change or progress. All those who voted for Obama should remember he campaigned against her, and she is no friend of the emerging liberal populist movement. She has only become more calculating, more secretive and less relatable since her failed campaign. She is no Bill Clinton. She is no Barack Obama. She is just Hillary. This election cycle, you must ask yourself if you really are “Ready for Hillary.”
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.