Challenges ahead for Hillary Clinton
So Hillary is all poised to enter 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue after her presidential nomination from the Democrats this week. The million-dollar question is how close is she on winning the presidency? The Clinton supporters not only in the US but also elsewhere including India think that it is already in her bag.
In politics one week is said to be long and she has three more months to go. She has several advantages. The first is her name which is known all over not only because of her husband and former US President Bill Clinton but also because of her own hard work as the First Lady, senator, and Obama’s Secretary of State. Secondly, as of now she is ahead of her Republican opponent Donald Trump in the opinion polls.
Thirdly, she has managed to raise a respectable war chest with funds raised from various sources including Wall Street. Fourthly, she is the first woman to break the glass ceiling and reach up to this nomination level. Fifthly, she is experienced and a Washington insider. She has travelled to 112 countries as the top civil servant. Sixthly, Hillary is depending on the fact that 77 percent of the voters are women, coloured people, and adults under 35 and Trump can’t win a majority of any of them. Lastly, there are many who see Trump as an upstart including some from his own Republican party and Hillary is hoping to woo this section.
Despite all these advantages, it is a close race for the White House. The negatives for Clinton are also many. First of all, she is another Clinton and represents a dynasty, which may go against her.
Secondly, she is on a weak wicket as she is bidding for a consecutive third term for the democrats. Only once since 1960 has a two-term president been replaced by a candidate from the same party (1988.) Republican George HW Bush beat Democrat Michael Dukakis to succeed Ronald Reagan. Bush was Reagan’s vice president and some called his election, “Reagan’s third term”. Hillary will have a tough time to show the voters that her regime will not be an “Obama third term”.
Thirdly, she has to win over those Americans who think she is not trustworthy. There are many skeletons in her cupboard and much more may emerge nearer the elections in November. She has decades of political baggage and her people’s skill is much less than President Obama and certainly not equal to her husband Bill Clinton.
Fourthly in a country, which worships youth she is seen as a candidate too old. While Obama won on identity politics Hillary is now pinning her hopes on gender politics, which may or may not work.
Fifthly, what is her vision? It cannot be more of the same. Will she be able to convince the electorate that she is capable of solving the problems of financial downtime, refugees rehabilitation issues, North Korea’s activities to do the nuclear tests, South China Sea conflict, and Gulf war with ISIS mission to destruct the world?
Sixthly, Hillary is seen as part of the establishment while Trump is wooing the voters as an anti-establishment man. He projects himself as the champion of the voters and his populist utterances espousing nativist values like us versus them, tradition versus foreignness etc. may appeal to the voters. He chose his giant Fifth Avenue Trump tower as the headquarters of “Make America Great Again” while Hillary has chosen “I am with her” theme.
These 2016 American presidential elections are indeed different from others because it is fought between two not very popular candidates.
Although Trump is a newcomer to politics he is riding a national mood, has caught the imagination of the people by touching a chord and talking about things like job and immigration, which they want to hear. He wants the Americans to look inward. Hillary may bank on his misstep as he has alienated women, Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans, and Native Americans already.
With an expected low voter turnout, Hillary simply cannot expect to win the polls by just making it a referendum on Trump. Therefore the presidency is hers for her to lose if she does not handle herself well between now and the polling date.
(The author is a political analyst. Views expressed are strictly personal.)