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Friday, July 10, 2015
Politics ...

Here’s why I don’t think that Hillary Clinton has a lock on the November, 2016 Presidential election. I’m going to leave aside all of the contingencies that can arise over the next 16 months. Sure, the election is still a long way out and a lot can happen simply because of the dice-throws of fate; there are plenty of “black swans” out there. But let’s just put that aside for the moment, and think about Hillary’s core game plan; let’s ponder whether Hillary’s basic strategy is sound. From what I understand, Hillary and her people are counting on re-creating the coalition of young, minority and female voters that easily put Barack Obama over the goal line in 2008 and 2012. Sure, the national demographic trends continue to evolve in favor of this idea.

However . . . recall that in the Democratic primary season of early to mid 2008, Obama used the same coalition to push Hillary aside; recall further that Hillary seemed like the pre-ordained candidate in late 2007. In 2016, Hillary can certainly count on a good female turnout. But as to minorities, it seems doubtful that she will get the same turnout from black voters that Obama did. And as to Hispanics, the most rapidly growing part of the “new demographic”, some of the GOP candidates (Bush, Rubio, Cruz) would probably be able to steal a significant chunk of this vote from the Dems.

It’s the young voters, however, who I think will disappoint Hillary the most. Obama came on the national scene from almost nowhere (Hawaii? Indonesia? Chicago?), and thus carried little baggage. Right from the get-go and almost all the way through, Obama was able to focus his speeches and positions in an idealistic fashion. He could and did inspire dreams in the minds of the young, with slogans like “Yes We Can” and “We Are the Change We Have Been Waiting For”. He could promise a new day for American politics. Sure, people over 30 probably didn’t buy his message, but many of those under 30 certainly did.

As to Hillary . . . she just won’t be able to strike such idealistic notes. She has to spend a lot of time dealing with semi-legitimate and seemingly-legitimate attacks on her character and judgement, based on her past (and fairly recent) history. And she has a LOT of history. You would have thought that she would have done all she could after 2008 to avoid accumulating any further “baggage”, that she would have gone out of the way to stay cleaner than clean. But no, there is the e-mail server problem from her Secretary of State years, her seeming public distortion of the details behind the Benghazi attack in Libya, and her relation to the Clinton Foundation and all of its influence-building activity on the part of its donors. She just held a press interview the other night, and much of what made it to TV and radio and the internet did NOT involve her dreams and visions for a better America, but her defenses against the continued accusations against her. Including her partisan counter-attacks against those who bring forth such accusations.

I’m not going to judge just who is right and wrong about those accusations and counter-charges. But it is clear that at 16 months away from the big election, Hillary is not able to do what Barack Obama did. To young potential voters, she appears much like other older, hard-bitten career politicians, and not someone on a mission like Obama seemed to be. Were she to be elected, life for the poor and disadvantaged probably would be better, but this fact alone will not strike a chord in the Millennial voter. A savvy Republican candidate could make inroads into this demographic, or at least assume that not enough of them will be inspired (as they were for Obama) to turn out in numbers that would make a difference for Hillary.

But hey, doesn’t Hillary have a wonderful and effective ambassador to the younger generation, i.e. her daughter Hillary? And doesn’t her most likely and potentially dangerous opponent, i.e. Jeb Bush, hail from an old, rich and empowered family, something that any self-respecting Millennial should consider totally un-cool? Well, as to Jeb . . . yes, he definitely is a Royal Bush-man. But when you read about his past, you could imagine him as the rebellious one, the one who struck out on his own and defined the family’s will — most prominently by marrying at a young age a working class woman from a some small Mexican village, despite his family’s reservations. His story could be spun in a way that Millennials might sympathize with. And sure, Chelsea will help to make her Mom seem OK to her generational peers, but Jeb also has a well-spoken Millennial spokesman in his son George P. Oh, wait, GP is now 39, more of a Gen X-er; but Chelsea isn’t the spring chicken she used to be either, at age 35. And George P is half Mexican and has a semi-dark complexion, so he might get just as much of a hearing from those in their 20’s as Ms. Chelsea certainly will.

Well OK, back to reality — in the next 16 months, a lot could happen; and if Hillary is lucky, the breaks will go her way and we will have a second Clinton and the first Presidential married couple in American history. But her strategy and position thus far does not tend to favor such an outcome. As far as we can tell right now, it’s going to be a real horse race, one that could go right down to election night. In Hillary, the Democrats are offering the country some used, damaged vessels to convey some otherwise good policies. And most of the potential GOP candidates could be similarly described (at best). It’s going to be a very interesting election season, but as to whether it holds ultimate hope and promise for America . . . that’s the last thing I would bet on right now!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:36 am      

  1. Jim, I just can’t help myself on this: With all due respect, I find myself wondering if you’d be saying the same thing about a man as you are saying about Hillary Clinton. I wonder about the men who are running for the GOP nomination. Some of them have to be around her age, even older. Perhaps they just aren’t well enough known to get the negative kind of attention Hillary gets.

    I wonder that you call Hillary a “used, damaged vessel”, although you put it in the plural as if her husband will be an elected official (helpmate to the poor female president?). I totally doubt that a man her age would be called, no matter how much “baggage” he might carry, “a used, damaged vessel”. I have to say: That one hit a nerve.

    I also find myself wondering: Why compare Hillary Clinton with Barak Obama? Obama can never be president again. Hillary could very well make some history as the first female president of the U.S. I see no comparison there.

    You *are* 100% correct in saying that to the younger generation of voters, “she appears much like the other older, hard-bitten career politicians” because she *is* an “older, hard-bitten career politician”. It’s just exactly *that* that may get her elected. Jeb Bush may not have so much baggage at this point – simply because he’s just entered the race and because nobody really has taken him that seriously yet. I wonder: Should Jeb Bush actually become the nominee, what kinds of baggage will they find out about him? I find it difficult to believe that he has no skeletons in his closet(s) somewhere.

    Actually, I think the biggest obstacle Hillary will have to overcome will be her “female-ness”. It seems to me that she may have to convince not only the men, but quite a few women too, that she could actually run a country, regardless of her good record as Secretary of State, which in my opinion is a good predictor of how she might handle critical foreign affairs (to name one big, important thing a president must know how to do well).

    In the end I am going back to my original approach to the coming 2016 election: I am going to wait until I see who will be the nominee in each respective party and then make a decision about who I will vote for. I might even make my decision a little earlier than actually having the nominees chosen, maybe when it becomes clear who will actually be the nominees. I would be willing to have some comment about “baggage” when it is clearer who the GOPs might nominate.
    And who knows what obstacles Hillary may yet face before she actually becomes the nominee of the Dems. (How many times will she have to answer what a “used, damaged vessel” and “older, hard-bitten politician” who is female would do as president?) Imagine Donald Trump being the nominee! Would such terms be used in regard to him? They might have a lot of names for him, but I doubt they would come close to the ones Hillary will have to face. I am not even sure of other GOPs who are running for office: Last I heard it seems Jeb Bush put his hat in the ring. I *can* say that should Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush be the nominees, I myself might have to pause and give my vote a “good think”; but then, again, that “good think” may not require a long time for me. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — July 10, 2015 @ 2:46 pm

  2. Mary,

    With all due respect to you in all that follows, same as your due respect for what I said. In other words, no harm, no foul, right? Politics are all about disagreement. Nothing personal here from either you or me.

    Sorry if the “used damage vessel(s)” thing about Hillary bothered you. As to the “s”, honestly I was NOT thinking about Bill; but now that you mention it, the thought certain COULD apply to him, couldn’t it. Did you notice my next sentence, which reads:

    And most of the potential GOP candidates could be similarly described (at best).

    I quite clearly said that the GOP candidates are “used damaged vessels”, if not worse (yes, the Donald indeed). But of course, given the presence of Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in that group, you might then wonder if I’m also a racist as well as a sexist in saying that. And had Bernie Sanders been important enough to mention, I would have said that he doesn’t even HAVE a vessel!!! (But you then might wonder if I’m also anti-Semitic . . . the mind wanders far when left to wonder.)

    Nonetheless, the point of my post was NOT what I think, but what I think that Millennials will think in 16 months on Election Day. I was outlining my reasons as to why I don’t think they will support Hillary with turnout and percentages anywhere near what Obama got from them. (Which is the reason for comparing Hillary and Obama, i.e. to compare how Millennials perceived Obama versus how they will perceive Hillary.) No problem if you disagree with that analysis; a lot of smart people like you believe that Hillary will do just fine with the young voters, maybe even better than Obama did.

    Again, politics are all about disagreement; all due respect, no harm, no foul, nothing personal. We shall see in 16 months. That’s what makes it interesting, to me, anyway.

    Comment by Jim G — July 11, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

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