Counterbalance: When Policies Die and Elections Begin

For some, politics has always been a topic of interest. For others, it wasn’t until Kevin Spacey, Kate Mara (RIP) and Robin Wright took the screen to produce one of the most influential political drama series since the West Wing. House of Cards season 3 aired on Netflix at midnight (PST) on February 27, leaving thousands of obsessors dreary-eyed at work the next morning after binge-watching an entire season. Although dramatised, the show brings to light the ruthlessness associated with self interest in Washington. Ruthless, not because Vice Presidents really push journalists in front of subway cars (if you haven’t seen it, you’ve taken too long). Ruthless -particularly now- because it’s election season, when self-interest is seemingly the primary motivator behind all heavily publicized political actions.

 

Hillary Clinton announced her ever-so-secretive candidacy for the 2016 Presidential election on Sunday, April 12th. Prior to her announcement, Clinton presumptively already held the Democratic nomination. However, by formalizing her frontrunner status, the next 18 months are sure to be even more accusatory and expensive that the last three years of her unannounced campaigning. Despite her coy denials when asked about the presidential bid, the former Secretary of State has already endured years of constant impugnment. This antic was quite tactful, granted that those ever-so-scandalous stories of the past now seem as obsolete as Monica Lewinsky. While the 2012 Benghazi investigations were heavily publicized and particularly controversial at the time, now they’re hardly mentioned.  However, Hillary’s repertoire of political positions in Washington has given the Republican party and the media a great deal of ammunition while both sides gear up for 2016.

 

Democrats catapulted Hillary into political stardom as their hope of retaining the presidency, and thus some level of political influence. For many, it’s hard to imagine any Democrat other than Hillary winning the nomination. In part, it is because she has seemingly been running a campaign for three years. Additionally, this is because of the widespread support she has received from her own party– in their hopes of appearing undivided to the American voter. While Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sees a presidential bid as be within his reach, his status as an Independent and lack of corporate funding make his winning the Democratic nomination less than likely. While the party has banded together, no presidential primary goes without some level of contention. Sanders gives those tired of corporate involvement in government a glimmer of hope that maybe someone held on to their political views despite the politics. However, the chance of him winning the primary remains slim, since Hillary has sold out to big business to assure she can finance a campaign. While shifts in the balance of power are never as swift as the passing of a baton, the Democratic Party’s efforts to retain political positions has been to put all their eggs in one basket (or one candidate’s Super PAC.)

 

From the GOP we find Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, not to mention the third Bush in 30 years to make a presidential run. It goes without saying that the Tea Party will not be conquering the White House in 2016, since any candidate incapable of seizing moderate votes may win the primary but has no shot in the general election. Jeb Bush is arguably the Republican favorite at the moment, even though his last name will be what stands between him and a victory. What’s interesting is that with such an elevated position in government, the Republican Party has still proven incapable of catapulting an electable candidate into political stardom. This may be for several reasons; perhaps it’s related to the fact that one of the Republican favorites has stood on a stage, outside of the Senate chamber, and read children’s books to a crowd of supporters and then called it a filibuster. Regardless of what challenges may be apparent at the present time, we won’t know the full picture until we witness a Republican bloodbath in New Hampshire. Santorum and Huckabee, you’re invited too.

 

Some Democrats have expressed concerns regarding Hillary’s hawkish foreign policy. This stance may be the case for a variety of reasons, however it may be bold to assume that she feels the need to overcompensate given she is a woman. Since women in politics are often underestimated, Hillary has actively tried to prove her political strength. Naturally, many have celebrated the possibility of electing the first woman president in 2016, while others have been less supportive. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, the spokesperson for the largest Republican newsource, questioned Hillary’s legitimacy on the basis of her gender while he was on the air. “There’s got to be a downside to having a woman president,” he stated.[1] While many will brush off O’Reilly’s comments as being extreme, Hillary’s candidacy could be decisive in proactively shaping women’s role in politics .

 

There are many thoughts that come to mind concerning the scandalous side of the Clintons. Depending on how Hillary chooses to confront these scandals, there could be a decisive episode that retracts from her frontrunner status. Clinton has more hurdles to jump through with Congress in part because of her gender, and this will mean that she must be on the offensive more so than other Democratic candidates. Regardless of the challenges Hillary is sure to face, and regardless of who the Republican nominee ends up being, her candidacy emphasizes the Democratic Party’s 2016 counterbalance, and where women stand in the domestic political sphere.

 

 

[1]Catherine, Taibi. 2014. ‘Colbert Knocks Bill O’reilly’. The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/06/clolbert-oreilly-president-hillary-clinton-bill-stephen-nation_n_4911634.html.

 

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