This week is one that promises many surprises in Poitiers with the Festival of Arts and Politics that started last night. But we cannot speak the same about last week’s major US announcement. After various speculations, it is now official: Hillary Clinton is running for US president in 2016. No surprise indeed for a lot of American citizens who have been expecting her candidacy for a while. However, now more than ever it seems like her time has come.
As Obama finishes a successful term characterized by an Economy slowly but surely approaching full employment, a landmark health care law and a financial regulatory regime, American leaders are preparing to campaign for the 2016 elections. Amongst those leaders are the Clinton couple who have built a massive campaign machine to bring Hillary to the top. Mrs. Clinton has had her eyes on the White House for a long time. During the last election as a major candidate, she nearly won, but got defeated by the young charismatic senator from Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama, in the Democratic party’s primaries. This time, some believe her campaign will be strong enough to defeat any potential rival.
The question remains unchanged: could she make a great president?
The national and global leader
Everything seems in her favor for the job: her experience and her competence. Indeed, she surely understands politics in Washington DC as well as the White House for having served there 8 years as the United States of America’s first lady in the 1990s; she was a close adviser to President Bill Clinton, her husband, whose welfare reforms gave way to the very recent « Obamacare » landmark. As a senator she had a reputation of being one who listens which can be very useful when dealing with the rival party. While Obama seems to have a difficult time with Republicans who are currently controlling Congress, according to an article on Clinton in The Economist, Hillary Clinton could be better at « hammering deals with lawmakers (of both parties) than President Obama has been ». In other words, she could be more effective than Obama to deal with the enemy.
As for her international reputation, her experience seems remarckable as well. Indeed, as a secretary of state, she visited more than a hundred countries, dealt with major United Nations issues. No other candidate can compete with that.
And above all, her campaign machine seems indestructible: it is predicted to raise $1 billion dollars, more than Obama raised in 2008 ($780 million dollars).
What she stands for: her views, her beliefs
As for her beliefs, it seems difficult to draw their lines. When speaking to a left-wing crowd she tells them that corporations and businesses aren’t the only ones to create jobs, yet in parallel she celebrates the « american model of free market for free people ». She is said to have a pretty close relationship with Wall Street (could this explain her campaign’s economic notoriety?) but at the same time she wants to strengthen Financial regulation. It seems though, that her economic platform is starting to take shape: she wants to make the lower and middle classes her priority, raise taxes on the wealthy and cut taxes on the middle class and improve access to education for all Americans. However, the fear to that progressive economic plan is that a President Clinton could likely succumb to pressure from her right-wing allies, whether they be Wall Street Bankers or Neoliberal lobbyists.
Then there is the question of social reforms that are of great electoral and ideological importance to the Democratic party: gay marriage, immigration reforms, women’s rights. For voters, she could represent these three issues, as the first female US president. Obama has done a great job on the immigration terrain, but it is obvious that a lot remains to be done.
And finally, on foreign policy, she wants to play a tougher card than Obama did without falling into her Republican rivals neoconservative belligerence.
So could Clinton be a good president? I bet she could. The terrain in American politics has shifted as they mention in The Week: as President she can be part of a historic era of policy reorientation away from the « conservative-neoliberal consensus that has produced decades of middle-class stagnation and one huge financial crisis ». She has the prestige, power and ideals necessary for the job, so why not give Hillary her chance this time? Even though we could be sceptic on her foreign policy when we think about it from outside American borders, we need to face it: even though the United States are largely responsible for the Middle Eastern mess, they are not going to weaken their role in that terrain very soon: Iran nuclear deal, fight against ISIS, fight on terrorism, Palestinian conflict, Syria … The list is long. In other words, they have a role to play, responsibilities to face in front of the American voters, and Hillary Clinton wants to play the stronger hand.
Social and economic progress, stability. To me this is what she stands for. And, this is why I think she might be a good candidate for the White House.
But one thing remains problematic: the fact that American politics is a family affair. After two Bush in power (father and son), now two Clinton (husband and spouse)? How can democracy work in a country with 300 million people when Washington DC is in the hands of just a few families?