Sunday, April 12, 2015

What Hillary Needs To Do To Win

Okay she's running. For those of you who thought she wasn't, you may now leave the room. You obviously weren't paying attention. Clintons run for office; it's what they do. Like fish swim in water.

But running is easy; winning isn't. If Hillary Clinton is going to win the White House in 2016, these are the things she needs to do.

1. She needs to define who she is and what she stands for.  I'm serious. Running on your last name will get you some votes; it won't get you over the finish line. The problem for Hillary is the same one Democrats face everywhere. The progressive and moderate factions are knocking heads as they vie for control of the Party.

Ever since the 2014 midterm disaster, the rift between both camps has grown. The rise of Elizabeth Warren as a star in the Party has given progressives hope and Blue Dogs and moderates heartburn. Like it or not, Warren will try to push Clinton to her left. How Hillary responds to those overtures will go a long way towards determining whether she will prevail or whether she ends up being the next Al Gore.

It won't be easy for her. Her husband's decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act is a thorn in the side of progressives who are weary of the cozy relationship the both of them have with Wall Street. She is going to have to square that circle in a way that appeases the Left while not throwing her husband under the bus. Bill is still very popular among both Democrats and independents. The last thing she needs is to piss off what will likely be her largest voter block.

On foreign policy she is perceived as a hawk. She voted for the Iraq War and that will be a soar spot for her. As Secretary of State, she oversaw the implementation of President Obama's Arab Spring policy. In retrospect, some of that didn't work out as expected. Despots were deposed only to see the rise of sectarian violence. If she ends up running against Jeb Bush, she'll be able to point to his brother's decision to invade Iraq as the principle reason for the entire region falling into chaos. If she ends up running against Rand Paul, however, she'll be playing defense a lot, including, unfortunately, having to deal with the Benghazi matter. How she handles the attacks from the Right will be crucial to her success.

2. She needs to control Bill. While Bill is an enormous asset  for any campaign - his address at the 2012 Democratic convention is one of the best I've heard in quite some time - he's also the bull in a china shop. In the '08 campaign, he went off script a lot, forcing Hillary to clarify his comments. It is vital that the two of them get on the same page and stay there.

3. Run a better campaign than she did in '08. Let's face it, she did not handle herself well in that campaign. She was antagonistic towards the press and too often was condescending to her fellow Democratic opponents. Obama schooled her during the debates which often led to tirades that made her look small and hardly presidential. If she winds up running against other members of her Party in the primaries, she must take care not to repeat those same mistakes. She also has to make amends with the African American community for remarks she made in '08 while running against Obama. It would be foolish of her to think they have been completely forgotten.

4. She must motivate the base to come out and support her.  The chief reason Hillary lost the '08 nomination was because she spent way too much time going after the middle of the road vote and not nearly enough time concentrating on the base of the Party. As a result Obama cleaned her clock. If she winds up running unopposed, she MUST do all she can to woo the Left. As a woman, she is in a unique position to speak to other women about those issues they care most about. She must embrace stances that are popular not only within the base, but also among more moderate voters: Gay marriage, raising the minimum wage, global warming, immigration reform and helping the middle class and working poor. These are all issues she can own and drive home to most of the electorate.

The lesson of the 2014 midterm debacle is that the Democratic base stayed home because it didn't see any reason to come out. Hillary Clinton must give them a reason to come out. She must motivate this base in the same manner that Obama did. To accomplish that she will need the help of the current occupant of the White House as well as her husband. Running away from Obama in retrospect hurt Democrats in 2014, just like running away from Bill Clinton in 2000 hurt Al Gore. If Hillary repeats that mistake, a Republican will be sitting in the Oval Office in 2017.

Well, Hillary, you're in it, as if any of us had any doubts. No go out there and win it!

1 comment:

Prof. Walter Jameson said...


Let the circus begin! Good G-d, man, understanding escapes me as to how any writer of politics can practice their craft with any degree of enthusiasm anymore. I'm absolutely serious. This is the best that Democrats have to offer the people of this country? And let's dispense with any and all doubt, she WILL be the party's nominee. The other possible contenders will now cower before the party machine and step aside to make her nomination inevitable. And that is truly most unfortunate.

I don't want to make this a long-winded response so I'll briefly address the header points as you've laid them out.

"She needs to define who she is and what she stands for."

She's simply not capable of doing that ... nor does she feel a need to do so.

"She needs to control Bill."

Perhaps to some degree, but she needs him now more than ever. You see, the big difference between him and her is that when he pretended to care about the average working and middle class citizens of this country, he was pretty damn believable. Her? She could get the best acting coaches in Hollywood and still not be able to pull it off.

"Run a better campaign than she did in '08."

She's going to have all the money and the party apparatus in her corner, but ultimately it's going to be about her. And when the spotlight is shone directly upon her, she does not do well. And she doesn't do well because she is incapable of sincerity.

"She must motivate the base to come out and support her."

Look, in the aggregate she will lock in about 45% of the vote and her Republican challenger will lock in the same. It will come down to approximately 10% of truly independent voters in a few swing states. That's pretty much it. If the Republicans can nominate a likable moderate, they are going to win. That's a big 'if' ... but if they can do it, they've got the election.