The members of the Clinton campaign are in very good spirits. Following the good results of Super Tuesday, the prospects of winning the presidential nomination are looking excellent. Sanders’ candidacy did not turn out to be a rocket; it was a firecracker at best. So it’s time for team Clinton to look ahead. The results that have thus far been obtained reflect the weaknesses in the upcoming battle with the Republicans for the White House. In an election battle that is — but for one theme, the call for authenticity — more unpredictable than ever, I hereby urge Hillary Clinton to show her true self.
Clinton’s campaigners are in a euphoric mood because the nomination (once again) appears to be hers for the taking. But there is reason to worry. There seems to be a lack of enthusiasm for Clinton among Democrats.
Ever since 2008, the last time the Democrats held a primary with internal competition between candidates, the turnout rate for the Democratic primaries has dropped significantly. For the first four primaries, this was 25 percentage on average. At the same time, Republicans were able to observe a 30 percent increase in the first four states since they last held a primary with internal competition.
It would prove a problem for Clinton if this trend were to continue: As a result of the electorate’s polarization and a decreasing number of swing voters, a candidate is only able to win by mobilizing his or her party and by getting [its constituents] to vote. In 2008 and 2012, Obama won as a result of the so-called “Obama coalition”: people who had never cast their vote before but now did so in large numbers out of enthusiasm for his candidacy. A similar kind of “Clinton coalition” has not yet formed.
This could be due to the idea voters have of Clinton as someone who cannot fully be trusted. Ongoing questions about her making use of a private server and her lucrative speeches for Wall Street, for instance, contribute to this.
Given the fact that this election, more than ever before, seems to revolve around authenticity — including an aversion to the establishment — this does not bode well for Clinton. Clinton’s team keeps denying that these questions, which keep being asked, are legitimate, and that they pose a problem for her candidacy. But is it not the electorate and not the candidate that gets to decide which questions are legitimate?
It is possible that Republicans will solve the lack of enthusiasm for Clinton by creating “negative enthusiasm” among Democrats? A Trump candidacy could achieve this. People would not be voting for Clinton, but against Trump. However, does Clinton want her victory to be dependent on a dislike for the Republican candidate? In addition, unpredictability will be the only certainty with Trump as candidate.
As such, Clinton would do well to rely on her own strength. Her impressive knowledge of both national and foreign policy is what makes up the substantive side of her strength.
The same cannot be said for the Republican candidates. They proclaim statements that can be considered fundamentally un-American. An example of this is the denial that, from a scientific point of view, climate change is a fact.
When did it become OK for scientific facts to be taken with a pinch of salt in the country responsible for giving the world the moon landing, the Internet and the iPhone? Worse still are the intolerant statements on immigrants and certain religions, which are in direct conflict with what is in fact the United States national motto — “E pluribus unum,” or “One from many.”
In short, this provides Clinton with a good window of opportunity. An election that revolves around substance would appeal to Clinton’s personal strength. At present, questions regarding her emails and Wall street speeches detract from this substance. Republicans will do whatever is within their means to keep this up until the elections in November.
How to turn things around? Obama’s candidacy hints at the answer. When in 2008, the radical statements by Obama’ s pastor Jeremy Wright began to lead a life of their own, Obama showed leadership and gave his famous speech on the role of ethnicity in American society. It proved successful.
In a long and interesting interview for the American website Buzzfeed, Clinton said that the driving forces behind her decision to go into politics have always been love and compassion. She already discussed these themes as part of her graduation speech in 1969. It is now time for Hillary to show America that she stands by these words: Do something about the negative perceptions among the electorate regarding your reliability; disclose the emails as much as possible; release the transcriptions of the Wall Street speeches and return the money you received for them. Enter into this dialogue now, from a position of strength, and not in October, possibly from a weak position. Nothing could be further removed from Republican points of view than love and compassion. Will the real Hillary Clinton please stand up?
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