It remains to be seen what issues Hillary Clinton’s campaign will stress on the road to 2016.
Andrew Sullivan recently made a point about the possible outlines of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency in 2016. Namely that there don’t appear to be many, or to put it another way, it is not clear what issues and themes she will be stressing. Sullivan sees this as a major problem for her:
What are her defining issues? Will she run on Obamacare — ensuring its success? Will she run on climate change? Or protection of entitlements? How would her foreign policy differ from Obama’s? Until we get a sense of where she is headed as far as policy is concerned, she runs the risk of appearing as some kind of large juggernaut that simply has to be elected, well, just because.
I’d agree with Sullivan that Hillary hasn’t exactly mapped out major themes for her campaign yet, it is after all still 2014, but I don’t see this as necessarily a big problem for her. The big divides in the Democratic Party in 2008 were largely driven by demographics, not policy or ideology. And it’s certainly possible that this will just happen again. In addition, if she can create a big enough of a “band wagon” effect with her candidacy she might not have to take many specific stances at all during the primaries–unlike former nominees Al Gore and to a lesser degree Michael Dukakis.
Instead, the real losers of an easy win by Clinton will be interest groups and activists inside the Democratic Party itself. Simply put, contested nominations battles for president are great times for parties to take stances on issues and figure out what they stand for. For example, the idea of passing a big sweeping health care bill in 2010 found its roots not in the opening days of the Obama administration, but during the primaries in 2007 and 2008 when all the major contenders (Obama, Clinton, and Edwards) took stances on passing a healthcare bill broadly similar to the Affordable Care Act.
At the end of the day there really are no legitimate or illegitimate reasons for supporting a candidate in a democracy. Wanting to see the first woman president is every bit as valid a reason for supporting a candidate as supporting them because of their stance on tax policy. But unless you are completely happy with the status quo of politics inside the Democratic Party you should be holding out for a contested race for the 2016 nomination, otherwise a potential president Hillary will be free to take whatever stances suit her the day after inauguration.
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