I woke up this morning to an email from Allida Black, chair of the new super PAC Ready for Hillary. The big news is that the PAC has gone live after registering with the FEC in January (and following me on Twitter this past Saturday!). "Ready for Hillary is the only organization dedicated to building a national network of supporters that will be in place and ready to jump into action the moment Hillary decides to seek our party's nomination," the email explains. As a recent CNN opinion piece says, "If Hillary Clinton wants to be the next nominee of the Democratic Party to be president, the job is hers." Let's examine why.
On March 24, the New York Times published a letter determining, in essence, that Hillary defies convention. The rules seem to be different for her. "No nonincumbent in the history of contemporary U.S. presidential politics ever looked so formidable three years before an election," the article details. Perhaps it's because she's a woman. Maybe her experience as a former first lady has something to do with it. An individual once so truly despised by much of America (she's come a long way from '90s headband scrutiny) has now, through her tireless work as secretary of state, managed to bring naysayers to her side. She has, as the Times letter continues, rebounded from defeat better than any recent political aspirant in almost 40 years. Maybe it's because she bears the lucky Clinton name, although it comes with some heavy baggage. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that she's been put through hell by the public and the media, necessarily and unnecessarily, and has learned from her past mistakes. If Hillary is so above and beyond convention -- due to these or other reasons -- that she simply has to ask "Where do I sign?" to acquire the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, she's the lady that needs to be the first female president.
It looks like the country, maybe even the world is ready for a Hillary presidency, thanks to the relationships she fostered during her visits to 112 countries in the last four years. Her ultimate electability depends largely on how President Obama's second term pans out. If the economy continues to recover and international conflicts aren't heightened, there is a good chance the public will want to keep a Democrat in office. Why rock the boat if things are finally looking up? And if anyone can derail the pattern of an incumbent party only having eight consecutive years in the White House (minus 1988, considering the past 60 years), it's Hillary. If these areas are regressing by election season, the country will probably again try its hand at a Republican president, and the relatively standard course of electoral history will continue (I wish people would get past the idea that a president and his party are solely to blame for mistakes that occur during his term).
Ultimately, the country seems ready for Hillary. But is Hillary ready for us? Does she even want the gig anymore? And the most annoying question ever, "Has her time passed?" These are the most befuddling questions to answer because only Hillary can truly say. Still, I find it hard to believe that a woman who has come so far in her field and sought this role so fervently in the past would give it up right when the public is ready to assist.
In terms of intellect and experience, the job is hers. Hillary's been gearing up for this her whole career -- not in the calculated way presidential hopefuls do, but actually with the unexpected trajectory of her career and the array of experiences it has provided, this job should be hers. Not that other women couldn't do it. But no other woman is as ready at this time. And now is the time. If we are going to have a female president, Hillary must shatter that glass ceiling, like she has so many others.
If it turns out Obama's second term is held responsible for further economic woes, or some other factor leads Democrats to be viewed largely unfavorably in the next few years, I don't think Hillary will run. She's already had one failed presidential campaign. When deciding whether or not to run, one thing is certain: Hillary is in it to win it. If she doesn't think she can win, she's not going to spend the time, money, resources, and energy. Better to focus her mind and talents elsewhere.
The Times letter states that in talking to several of Hillary's colleagues, the consensus is she's more likely to run than not, but "her candidacy is not a foregone conclusion... and there are several pressing questions outstanding." These questions include Hillary's age, which has garnered much attention. The past three presidents have been over a decade younger than her. Just because we have trended toward electing younger presidents, however, doesn't mean that once Hillary hits 70 her qualifications disappear. As an article in Salon argues, the simple fact of Hillary's age does not determine whether or not she is fit for the presidency. As an individual, Hillary has more stamina than someone 40 years her junior. Her health is a concern -- she recently had a health scare but it's over now. After a year or so of actually sleeping, she'll be in excellent shape. And if she was truly unhealthy, she wouldn't put the country's wellbeing in jeopardy by running. Furthermore, women tend to live longer than men so comparing age across genders doesn't compute.
I hope I've shared a somewhat unique perspective on Hillary's potential candidacy. These questions and more remain until Election Day 2016: is the country really ready for Hillary? Or are her politics, gender, choices, relationships, circumstances, name, and fortitude too "scandalous" to represent the United States? I sincerely hope not. If Hillary Clinton does not become president, the country will have missed out on a brilliant, dynamic, and innovative leader, and the only woman I can see having the job in the near future. For now, all we can do is look forward to her announcement and join the Ready for Hillary campaign, so she knows that when she's ready for us, we will be waiting.
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