In a few weeks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will leave her post for a well-deserved rest, and certainly a new challenge. She has truly earned the accolades coming from within her country and beyond. She is the ultimate public servant—selfless, loyal, determined, persistent, and effective. Now the early speculation is that she will run for the presidency in 2016.
Clearly, today’s Democratic party remains very much sympathetic to the Clintons. President Bill Clinton’s enthusiastic support of Barack Obama in the last campaign did much to consolidate the Clintons’ standing with the rank and file of the party. Hillary’s stewardship of the State Department and her loyal service to her 2008 rival reinforces the Clinton brand. It is fair to say that the 2016 nomination is hers for the taking.
The question is: Will she run? She will be 69 years come 2016. The reelection of Barack Obama does indicate that America is changing rapidly which favours the Democratic voter coalition, but will the American voter be inclined to return to a baby boomer generation leader? On the basis of competence, the answer is yes. However, four years out of politics is more than an eternity, and one should not underestimate the Republican bench for 2016.
Senator Mario Rubio, Governor Chris Christie, Congressman (and former governor) Jeb Bush, and former vice-president candidate Paul Ryan seem to be already testing the waters. Should all these candidates make a run, and begin to bring the party more to the center, it is plausible that the American voter would consider the Republican alternative—especially after two consecutive terms of White House Democratic rule. Since 1945, only Republican George W.H. Bush was able to add a third consecutive White House term for the governing party.
Democrats have some other notable candidates as well. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Vice President Joe Biden are potential contenders. At this stage, it is doubtful any of those Democrats could defeat Hillary, but if Hillary is true to her word, and stays out of the race, the Democratic bench looks respectable at this point—and strong enough to compete with the GOP crop.
My Democratic friends, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2008, remain hopeful that she will run one more time. Many, while supportive of Obama, believe Hillary still has a rendez-vous with history. It was Obama who said that Hillary made him a better candidate. And in an ironic twist, by choosing Hillary as his secretary of state, Obama makes her a potentially better president than had she won in 2008. She is now more-than-qualified for the big job.
It is too early to predict her future. She will certainly not fade from the scene, and she should not. Whether she runs or not, her voice will be needed in the public forum, both in America and in the rest of the world.