Hillary Clinton Eyes 2016

For the Democrats, choosing Hillary Clinton to lead a bid for the White House is a no-brainer. She has the charisma, the intelligence, the name recognition, and the wherewithal to lead the country. But, more importantly, she has the experience. Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can boast of years of inside experience in the White House where she worked tirelessly to repair the national image of a United States that had been damaged by human rights abuse scandals and poor handling of relations with Muslim countries. As First Lady she helped then-President Bill Clinton push for universal health care which, although failed, no doubt proved useful in helping to helm the challenge for its second, and ultimately successful, implementation.

Her support for the military has won her praise from both sides of the aisle, and Republicans are confident that she has the knowledge and capability to lead us even further out today’s muddy fiscal waters.

So, will Mrs. Clinton be a president that Democrats can get behind and that Republicans will respect? Aside from Vice President Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton is the only potential candidate with the name recognition and popularity within the Democratic Party to secure a nomination for the presidency. Of course Republicans will try and villainize Mrs. Clinton should she seek to run, but political parties on all sides engage in that sort of political theater during elections. Should Mrs. Clinton actually secure the presidency, Republicans would be willing to work with her. Both Democrats and moderate Republicans like her because of her stance on gun control. Republicans like the fact that she’s no longer for a national licensing registration plan for gun owners and Democrats like that she’s for keeping guns out of the hands of criminals through background checks.

She came out unscathed during the political crisis surrounding the Benghazi incident, and her long-standing pro-Israel definitely won’t hurt her in the eyes of the Republican Party. She would be a strong proponent of women’s rights both at home and abroad but her record on balancing the rights of citizens with the needs of national security are somewhat less clear. She’s gone on the record condemning torture but has also claimed that national security is more important than human rights. Her stance on national security will become clearer should she seek to run, and it will be interesting to hear what reforms, if any, she will have for the NSA’s information gathering programs.

Barack Obama’s successful run for the White House in 2008 captured the hopeful mood of an America that had grown tired of two wars that had lasted almost a decade, economic woes brought on by some of the worst corporate greed ever exposed, and the tarnishing of its world image. Mr. Obama campaigned on a platform that promised to regain the confidence of a world it had been leading since the end of WWII with pledges to return America to form. Never again would the financial industry bring America to the near financial ruin it had almost been brought to. Never again would America go to war on false pretenses. Never again would America hold captive alleged enemy combatants for years at a time and deny them their day in court or torture them for information. And, to President Obama’s credit, we haven’t gone on to start another war. Not that there aren’t calls for one against Iran, or Russia in Ukraine. But Guantanamo Bay remains open despite President Obama’s initial promises to close it down. Instead of holding alleged enemy combatants captive without due process, now we just shoot missiles at them from drones. Which, to President Obama’s credit, isn’t the same thing as holding people captive without trial, but it’s certainly no better.

Will Mrs. Clinton end the mass deportations of illegal immigrants who appreciate America more than some of its own citizens do? Will she help to reign in an NSA that has been left to grow so grotesquely large to the point that the people it was initially tasked to protect have now become its potential targets? Will Hillary Clinton be 2016’s Barack Obama? And if so, will 2016 Hillary deliver on these challenges? Or will she, like 2008’s Barack Obama, ride a tidal wave of hope only to deliver on half promises? The NSA grew larger under the Obama administration than it ever had, deportations reached record numbers, and more journalists and whistleblowers were prosecuted under the outdated Espionage act of 1917 than even under the conservative administration of President Bush were. We can’t know now, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t begin to ask now.

 

Andrew Keshmiri is a fourth-year political science major. He can be reached at akeshmir@uci.edu.