Hillary, So Rich and So Inevitable?

The false suspense surrounding Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has ended. So far, the wife of Bill Clinton promises to be — but American presidential campaigns are never decided in advance — the most serious, if not the most formidable contender for the Oval Office of the White House. First because, according to American criteria, she is one of the best prepared candidates that the United States has seen in years. She has been involved in politics since her youth, she approached the heights of power for 20 years through her husband’s career, first as governor, then as president. She then acquired eight years of legislative experience in the Senate — an American congressperson has far more power and influence than a European congressperson — and then as a U.S. diplomat. No less . . .

Yet, the Clinton campaign carries with it some questions, problems and shady issues. So far — this was the case during her first attempt in 2008, and it is even more so now — this candidacy has primarily been based on the notion of inevitability, the inevitable success of a female candidate with an unparalleled curriculum vitae. The first female president, with incontestable experience: How could the citizens of the United States deny themselves such a formidable opportunity?

The civilizational progress that this perspective represents is obviously essential, for the United States and for the rest of the world. But beyond that, both Hillary Clinton and her entourage have up until now been incapable of defining what will be the mobilizing project of a “Rodham Clinton” presidency. This implicitly betrays the fact that the project would actually be nothing more than a long term (re)conquest of power for power’s sake. Hillary Clinton will have to do a lot to dispel this feeling.

There is also a shady issue: money. If Mrs. Clinton was able to render her candidature “inevitable,” discouraging every serious Democratic candidate from running against her, it is also because her people are capable of mobilizing unprecedented resources for a presidential campaign: $1 to $2 billion! Obama’s $800 million in 2008, a record at the time, seems far from it. But unlike Obama’s funds, Hillary’s will also be amply fed by an old network of relationships, in the business world in particular. This is one of the dark faces, and not the least, of the Clinton clan.

This financial capacity is integral to the dynastic element, which will no doubt be the historic characteristic of this election, with the imminent competition of the Republican Jeb Bush. This is the most troubling aspect of this evolution of the American presidential system: the idea that from now on, the presidency will return to the man or woman who is capable of raising the most funds. Does it need to be said that this is not exactly the best model of democracy?

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