The second term of any re-elected US President has its perks and pitfalls, however a poorly conducted second term can hurt the president’s political party as much as their own individual political career post-Presidency. The Democrats and Republicans tend to kick the ball of Executive control back and forth fairly evenly, Republicans holding more consecutive streaks (the last back to back Republican streak lasting from Reagan to Bush Sr., last triple streak running from Harding to Coolidge to Hoover), and the Independents, well, they last held office in 1845.
So, after two terms of a Democrat as President, what is next for Washington? We are now two years away from the next Presidential ballot. The Republicans have yet to name a contending candidate, and the Democrats are facing criticism that the current Commander in Chief is a second term ‘Lame Duck’. While Obama sets a strong note of change coming into the Oval Office, the prematurely delivered 2009 Nobel Prize (for doing…nothing, sans winning a Presidential race, which does not exactly warrant peaceful behavior) seems to have set a solid standard for his scale of effectiveness-versus-praise.
So who is the only political contender with enough experience, publicity and reputation for tangible results? Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton. Her resume is nothing to scoff at: first female Senator for New York, Secretary of State, Juris Doctor law degree from Yale, and she has served on the board of numerous fostering and child-orientated programs and acts. Her time as First Lady of Arkansas and of the United States wasn’t all smooth sailing as we can recall, but she weathered it better than most and pulled off some daring pantsuits in the process.
But it’s more than her bravado and experience which impacts the public’s opinion of Hillary – no candidate that the Republicans could throw against her would have the amount of social media presence, Oval Office familiarity, and sheer volume of media-presence, dating all the way back into the 1980s, to draw upon. The American public is an extremely diverse landscape of race, culture, language and politics – however, the unifying feature of all successful Presidential nominees has been their media wherewithal; and Hillary has a formidable lead against any other candidate – from any party.
Her policies and stances on the Iraq war should be noted, as military know-how is a pivotal factor in America’s choice of President, particularly as Middle-Eastern disputes are not going away anytime soon. After the September 11th attacks against the US, Hillary supported (as Senator,) the initial military intervention in Afghanistan and the Iraq War Resolution (the 2003 Iraq Invasion); however, she was very open about her discontent with the Bush Administration’s conduct within Iraq and the domestic policies that blatantly broke US citizen’s Constitutional Rights.
She continued her involvement with military disputes as Secretary of State and openly (and quickly in political terms,) took responsibility for the Benghazi Attack on an American Diplomatic Compound in Libya, which (while a physical and political cluster-muck,) was a sound move for her office and the US’s disposition in the region at the time. She is the most-traveled Secretary of State in US history, and was one of the first female politicians in Washington to employ social media outlets to engage with her constituency and beyond.
While anyone of enough caliber and clout to run for President must have a solid resume, political ties and experience and preferably a decent bill-fold (which Hillary has, for better or worse, thanks to her engagements with Wall Street), the fact that Hillary Clinton, a Democratic politician, has been in the public forefront for so long could be the make-or-break of her 2016 Presidential race. Even if the Republican Party can rally a candidate that has a fraction of her Capitol Hill experience, the fact is the Republican Party is currently a very wounded and fractured entity.
It would not be surprising if the party faced a very prolonged and indecisive candidate selection process, and if factions of the party split during the nominee process, no experienced political analyst would think twice.
It is not that Hillary will not have some competition from a Republican Candidate, however, the American public, as heavily-media-influenced as it is, will, more likely than not, mirror each candidate’s media presence (both contemporary and retrospectively) in the voting booths. Hillary is so disproportionately represented in the media that some might say, this race is already over.
Devon Mitchell Simons is a PhD student at Aberystwyth University. Her main research interests include terrorism policy after 2001 and during the Iraq War and the media-to-government relationship.