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Friday, June 24, 2016

Hillary Clinton: All Set to Make History?

Finally, overcoming issues and obstacles, as the campaign moved forward picking up support, Hillary Clinton, who in 1995 asserted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing “… that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights…” appears to be heading to make history. With the Californians throwing their lot behind her, she indeed is all set to create history: it is after 96 years of American women wresting the right to vote that for the first time a woman candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton has become the presumptive Democratic nominee for the top job of the US—the President of the United States of America.

Wasting no time in setting the tone for her campaign against Trump, Clinton, savoring the historical moment—of securing the number of delegates required for the nomination—appealed to the supporters of Sanders thus: “Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

Endorsing Clinton’s candidature for the Presidential race, though President Obama said of her: “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office. I have seen her judgment. I’ve seen her toughness. I’ve seen her commitment to our values up close”, the road ahead doesn’t appear to be all that snowy white for her.

Of course, with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive voice and who took an attack-dog role against Trump, throwing her lot behind Hillary Clinton—“I am ready to get in this fight and work my heart out for Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the US and ensure that Donald Trump never gets any place close to the White House”—it becomes clear that it is only a matter of time before the Democratic insurgent, Senator Bernie Sanders quit the race and endorsed Clinton wholesomely to better her prospects against Trump. But till then, Sanders, a rank outsider to Democratic Party till a year back, with his demonstrated persistence is sure to make her look weak and Democratic Party divided.

When we talk of her bumpy road ahead to White House, the other thing that immediately strikes a reader’s mind is: her unusual e-mail arrangement as Secretary of State. The internal watchdog of the State Department which has examined her using a private e-mail account for her official business though does not allege her of breaking any law, asserts that she was under an obligation to seek clearance from the Department, which she didn’t. Any other seasoned politician, recognizing its potential to cause the embarrassment, would have taken steps to quickly pass on the evidence about all the traffic of electronic mail, confess the carelessness and express remorse to silence the matter at its very budding stage itself. Instead, she displaying an uncandid response to the scandal, mostly shifting positions—citing instances of similar nature from the past, particularly of Colin Powell’s acts; stating that she sought the administration’s approval; citing her strong desire to maintain secrecy; or, stating, “I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible”, etc.,—offered herself on a platter to Trump for his tweeter-feast. Republicans have indeed attacked her poor judgment that exposed the US national security to risk and also accused her of deleting key e-mails that she did not want Americans to know about. Once the OIG report is out, and should it contain any adverse remarks, Trump is sure to exploit it to the hilt to nail her down. That aside, all this amateurish act has only shown her in poor light.

There are also analysts who wonder that her very essence of being ‘Hillary Clinton’ and the characters such as Bill and his Clinton Foundation, Huma Abedin, Sidney Blumenthal, etc., that she is surrounded by are good enough fodder for her opponent team to trouble her with repeated teasers on the social media. Over it, there is also a fear—fear about her poor acumen in campaigning via social media, that too, shunning sellable phrases like ‘build a wall’, ‘ban the Muslims’, bomb ISIS, etc., which her opponent is freely airing, and capture the attention of the young voters.

Nevertheless, Clinton is known for her “idealism tempered by time and experience”. She is realistic, moderate, stable and of patience with an eye to get results for people. For instance, reports indicate that during the recent lead-pipe water scandal of Flint, Michigan, she, unlike Sanders, sent two of her aides to the Mayor of Flint to ascertain what needs to be done to help and accordingly, she picking up the phone spoke to Governor and thus she added pressure to get water funds released. But the big question is: how to communicate such incrementalism in a campaign?

Of course, Hillary, the lady of level-head with a lifelong passion for social justice, who could differentiate herself from her younger-self of the early 70s thus: “I know who it’s like to be knocked down and how to dust yourself off and you get back up and you keep fighting for what you believe in” is sure to infuse that missing fire in her campaign. Having served as Secretary of State, Senator of New York and having been a practicing lawyer, professor of Law and with a proven interest in children’s law and family policy in the form of published scholarly papers, she will not lose time in bouncing back and wooing the voters towards her policies. Encouragingly, that sprit is already visible: for once her campaign team could deliver a simple but scathing three-word tweet: “Delete your account” as a response to Trump’s tweet, “Obama endorsed crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama—but nobody else does!” which went viral in no time.

No doubt, Hillary Clinton cannot electrify the voters for she is not a natural politician like her husband or for that matter Barrack Obama, but she has the intelligence, grit, energy and importantly the ability to accommodate diversity and once preliminaries are over and as an old follower of her said, when “head and heart” begin to set in, voters are sure to shun away Trump—who “bragged about swooping in and benefitting off other people’s misery” during the housing bust of 2006-08; whom Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts called “a small, insecure money grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt so long as he makes a profit off it”, and “cares about no one but himself”—in preference to Hillary Clinton.
Nor did the rest of the world—which strongly believes that it would be better off with Clinton—would fail in rooting for her success against the Trump, that “bigoted, lying, isolationist, egotistical seller of the ‘reversal of global-order’ whom the grand old party has chosen as rival to Clinton. For, it believes that Clinton—who as the Secretary of State advocated for ‘smart power’, a combination of military hard power and soft power of economics, as a strategic-tool to assert US leadership and its values in conducting global affairs—understands the complex-interdependence of today’s world and importantly exhibits a value-system that cares to uphold that global-interdependence.

That said, we also must take note of what a journalist who covered her extensively both in the office and outside of it has to say of her persona: “Clearly, however, something seems to happen to Clinton”—the lady who has the political skills that an office holder needs, which indeed had been acknowledged by even former Republican Secretary of State when he said that she “ran the State Department in the most effective way that I’ve ever seen”—“when the task is asking people to vote for her”. Over it, you have Trump from the other side drumming down accusing her of ‘Criminal misconduct’: “You have a President coming out and endorsing somebody who is under criminal investigation. Is this supposed to be the way the country supposed to be?”

So, that being what it is and people’s ‘will’ being the final arbiter of democracy, the question now is: Will Hillary Rodham Clinton create history?/Will America remain as it is or morph into a cave-dweller? 


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