Why it has to be Hillary (but it shouldn’t be)
No more than a fortnight since Barack Obama was re-elected, another two months until his second inauguration, and then four years during which the world will change immeasurably — and so the talk in America turns inevitably to one thing: who will be in the running for party nominations in 2016?
Yes, believe it or not, discussion has already begun as to the next presidential campaign. Shortlists are being compiled, and the long-suffering burghers and yeofolk of Iowa are already being polled on their preferences. Part of this is pure ritual of course, and a degree of mania. The campaign is so utterly consuming for so many months that even when it’s over, people simply can’t stop. The winners know they will have to turn to the business of government eventually, and the losers have, well, nothing to do — the campaigns dissolve and there is no official opposition at the presidential level. And Republicans simply went nuts, the loss prompting them to a new “find a Hispanic” strategy — Marco Rubio! Ted Cruz! Chico Marx! — like a cleaned-out gambler planning a new strategy for when he gets his pants back. Imagine if a brown guy was selling a policy that treated brown guys as little more than criminals! That’ll fix it!
That’s par for the course for the losers. It’s the mania that forestalls an advancing depression. But this year the Democrats are engaging in it too, out of sheer triumph. Barring a real disaster in the next four years, the Democrats have a far greater chance of retaining power than the GOP have of taking it. Though many of the state margins were narrow, to lock the Right out of all but a couple of swing states is a huge psychological edge. With continued demographic changes in the south and west, swing states can be made safe Democratic holds and other states — Arizona, Georgia and ultimately Texas — can be brought into play. The Democrats dream of another assured eight years from ‘16 onwards, and there’s no reason they couldn’t get it.
In that respect one candidacy becomes overwhelming — Hillary.
The prospect of a second-coming of the Clinton family, ushered in by the first woman president, has many Democrats salivating in the aisles. Hillary — the first-name designation has gone from being a clarifying necessity to that denoting legend — would sweep away many of the problems associated with a term-limited president, whose veep will be a little old to be the candidate presumptive. Hillary would bring an immediate authority and claim to the nomination: she banks the expertise of her secretary of state tenure, she would obviously nail the female vote, make inroads in the south and get some of the “good[sic] ol boys” back, those who wouldn’t vote for a Kenyan. She’d have Bill campaigning for her, acting as a force multiplier, and Barack and Michelle rounding up the black vote, to prevent any fall away from its current levels — 96% of 12% of the population — to backstop it.
Though she would not lack for challengers, the Democrat process would hold it within rationale limits. The GOP version will once again be a circus entirely populated by clowns and knife-throwers.
Moreover, if they did select a Hispanic candidate — still a long shot — any gains would be small, since their policies would remain resolutely anti-poor. And whatever gain they made via identity politics would be offset, were Hillary running, by a white flight to the Democrats. Nasty way to gain a vote, but nothing otiose would need to be done to gain it. Simply by being white in such circumstances, a Democrat candidate could be competitive in West Virginia, Georgia and other places that were once Democratic strongholds.
“There is something dispiriting about the idea that the first woman president would be part of a holy family; that marriage, the traditional institution par excellence, would be the means by which such change was achieved.”
There is also a sense that Hillary deserves it. Had Obama stayed a senator (“turns out being Barack Obama is a pretty good gig” he said after gaining that office, with the big house, the best-selling book, the professorship, Michelle, daughters, etc) she would have been selected by acclaim, won easily, and been a more skilled, if less adventurous, progressive president. That people, above and beyond making a selection on policy, had to make a choice between the first woman president and the first black president was heartbreaking to many. Some feel, not unreasonably, that patriarchy proved to be a more deep-seated attitude than racism — by such logic “of course” a black man should be selected over a woman, in terms of elevating the more oppressed group.
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Categories: United States