On Tuesday 6th of November this year it seemed the entire planet watched in anticipation as Barack Obama was re-elected to embark on a second term in the White House. The news reverberated around the world like a firing signal. Again, change was what was promised, the oath that he would fight tirelessly to uphold the fundamental human rights of liberty and dignity. Obama’s promise was that each American citizen, regardless of age, gender, race or sexual orientation, would have equal rights to personal success and progression. Women around the world rejoiced as the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v Wade was upheld, helping to ensure women continued to have complete control of their bodies and decisions about abortion and birth control were not at the mercy of state control. Now as the dust settles from the election day frenzy and America retreats back into everyday life, speculation has begun about the 2016 presidential race. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker spoke out in November, predicting that Hillary Clinton will run for congress, making him one of the boldest names to do so. In 2008 the United States of America made political history when they appointed the first Black president. In 2016 will they be ready for a woman to take the helm?
Let’s start by examining the current political environment. Obama didn’t quite achieve the same landslide victory as in 2008. The Republican candidate Mitt Romney managed to amount a frighteningly high number of votes considering his extreme right wing politics and he continued the Republican strong hold in central America. However, the stake in the heart of the Republican campaign was Romney’s, at times, stupendous lack of tact and grace when dealing with sensitive issues for women. (not to mention his tax avoidance, contempt for the poor and general un-likeability)
In this election it became abundantly clear that women’s issues are not fringe issues, and women are not a special interest group. It was women who cast the bulk of the votes of this election…53% and women who proved to be the deciding factor, breaking in Obama’s favour by 11 percentage points.
If we look at Forbes list of the top 100 most powerful women, 19 of those are politicians. The only woman currently said to be more powerful than Clinton is the German chancellor Angela Merkel who reigns supreme as the pre-eminent leader of the European Union. If power was measured in breadth however, Clinton would surpass even Merkel’s reach of influence as the most well travelled U.S secretary of state in history. She has visited over 50 countries this year so far, promoting U.S policy and campaigning for peace around the globe.
She has always had a particular affinity with humanitarian issues and in particular the empowerment of women in disadvantaged and war torn countries. She also champions the rights of members of the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) both in and outside of the U.S, which continues to be a controversial subject. Last year Clinton delivered a historic speech at the United Nations where she spoke to leaders from countries such as Sudan where homosexuality is still a crime punishable by the death penalty and Jamaica where you could face 10 years hard labour. In her speech she outlined that LGBT rights are human rights and “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,… these rights are not conferred by government they are the birth right of all people.” So this is not a woman who shy’s away from tackling an issue head on.
If you look at the political spectrum as a whole, there are currently 17 countries with women as head of government, head of state or both. If the United states of America, arguably the most influential power in world were to appoint a woman as their leader the repercussions of this would be immeasurable in terms of cementing the progress of women worldwide.
Clinton’s chances of successfully becoming president should she run look promising. If she can even get to 45 percent of the white vote, or simply break even among white women while keeping Obama’s numbers among Black, latino, LGBT and Jewish voters, Clinton could potentially not only solidify the Obama base, but remake political coalitions in a way that would reduce the Republicans to being on the periphery of American politics. This is, of course, a best case scenario; and there is a lot that can happen between now and November of 2016.
Recent concerns regarding her health have also arisen which have led many to question whether 20 years in politics has finally taken its toll. She spoke out in response to this recently, stating that “thankfully i am, you know, looking forward to being at full speed”.
So do I think Hillary Clinton is ready for the presidential race come 2016? Well let me reiterate the words of Tony Blair when he was asked about Clinton recently… “ I have an instinct that the best is yet to come” Clinton is the most qualified, experienced and popular candidate in the democratic party. She is, in most respects, significantly better prepared for a successful campaign and presidency, than anybody else in the party. Having been uniquely despised by the far right for years she has sufficient experience of dealing with their intolerant, faux patriotic and politically destructive agendas.
Only time will tell whether Clinton decides to accept the challenge and embark on a presidential campaign. One thing you can be certain is where her interests lie, in a recent interview she produced a rather Terminator-esque quote…
“I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.”
One thing I do not doubt is that if there is anyone to finish that business, it is Hillary Clinton.