The election of President Obama, brought with it a return to traditional democratic politics, in the tradition of FDR, JFK and LBJ. Would this continue with the election of Hillary Clinton?
The $64,000 question is who is Hillary Clinton? What type of President would she be? Would a Hillary Presidency be like her husband’s? What are her core beliefs? Would she be Conservative or would she be a Progressive?
Let us look back for a moment, and recall President Bill Clinton’s signature achievements. His administration passed a major welfare reform bill, he passed NAFTA, and GATT and he removed one of the key New Deal reforms, Glass Steagall. Removing Glass Steagall was a horrible decision. NAFTA remains highly controversial. I find it difficult to call any of those accomplishments, progressive in the Franklin Roosevelt tradition. President Clinton famously said that the era of big government was over. Our economy did quite well, and he left the succeeding president a surplus regarding the budget. Some cynical Democrats say he was the best Republican we have elected, and that his achievements would have made conservatives proud as he balanced the budget several times. He was popular and his communication skills are amazing.
If Hillary is elected you would also get Bill. Is that a plus if you are a democrat in the mold of a FDR, a JFK or and LBJ? I would argue no, that it is not a positive. We are not supposed to have dual presidencies. I am sure she would want to have her own administration, independent of her husband, but it is hard to envision the reality of that occurring.
Would a Hillary Clinton Presidency be any different from what her husbands was?
Is it time to move forward into a new era? They have had their time in history. We do not need anymore dynasties. Would their policies be too conservative for what our time in history requires? It is time for a more progressive administration to move us forward.
Perhaps it is a little unfair to surmise what she would do. History has shown us that an election is often different from what a Presidency turns out to be like. Franklin Roosevelt ran on a campaign theme of balancing the budget but the exigent circumstances of the moment sure changed that. The Nixon-John F. Kennedy campaign centered around Communism and a few rather obscure islands near China. Who would have guessed that Civil Rights and our efforts in reaching the Moon would be his legacy? President George W. Bush said in his campaign that nation building was not something he was interested in.
The point is there are always surprises. We never know for sure what the next major issue will be. What we do need is someone with the judgment, wisdom and political smarts that the job requires in this difficult world.
Opportunism comes to mind when thinking about the Clinton’s. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, it shows the willingness to change based upon the circumstances, or it can show the lack of core beliefs and a willingness to climb aboard whatever might be the popular issue of the moment.
All of a sudden at the inauguration of the new mayor of New York City, the former President sounded like he had become a born again, progressive. He is now championing, the new hot issue of the day, the huge income disparity that we currently see in this country. Do the Clintons genuinely believe that this disparity needs reducing or are they attaching their campaign to what is the popular issue of the moment? On its face it is smart politics. A key question comes to mind, would she govern differently than what her campaign would be about or would she follow through with her campaign promises?
There are three types of leaders in politics. If in your mind you can picture a small circle representing a President and a larger circle representing the people, one type of leadership is when the little circle is leading the big circle representing we the people. Another form of leadership is when the small circle is within the larger circle and they are listening to one another. Then there is the worst kind of leader, in a Republic, one who follows the people. A person who always has his finger in the air, seeing where the wind is blowing and going with the flow. They go where the polls take them and the focus groups. That is not leadership. Leadership requires making tough decisions that are not necessarily going to be popular, but they do them anyway because the President believes that he or she is doing the right thing.
This is a time for bold leadership. As a people we have many needs, which will require a President who has a core, who has beliefs and principles that are above partisan politics. A President of the United States sometimes needs to make the tough decision, irrespective of what the polls say, that truly is the definition of leadership.
So when the campaign begins in earnest, let us not anoint her, but instead ask of her what does she stand for? What is Hillary Clinton’s vision for the future for America. The public needs to know!
The great hope is that a President Hillary Clinton would want to leave a lasting legacy of achievement and to fulfill her potential by doing what is needed for the country if she should be the nominee and win the Presidency.
Good article Gar. The longest memory I have of Bills presidency, was that every store was advertising for help, if you wanted a job you could get one. I never had the training to be as well informed as you , Bill or Elaine, I was always a craftsman, spent 50 years repairing computers, spent years in school, but always related to my job. I always found a well educated person that I trusted, and let them explain the nuances, of the person that was in or running for office.
Good instincts are often, good enough in assessing a candidate. The Democratic Party is quite fortunate to have a wealth of good candidates for President. It is rare to see so many who seem so well equipped to do the most difficult job in the world. I want the best person we can offer. We are living in challenging times and we need the best person possible to meet the great challenges of the day.