We have less than four weeks until the Iowa caucus opens the 2016 presidential primary season. Against all odds, billionaire real estate tycoon and media mogul Donald Trump remains the undisputed Republican frontrunner. His strategy of bully and bluster has, amazingly, won over millions of disenfranchised conservatives and independents. In the Democratic corner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains the frontrunner…but her victory is far from assured. Despite the support of a biased mainstream media and Democratic Party establishment, the winds of Clinton’s 2008 upset loss to U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in the presidential primaries still blow today. Though the former U.S. Senator (D-NY) has adjusted her campaign strategies and redoubled her efforts this time around, she is still weakened by her most serious flaws.
Hillary Clinton, despite all her experience and expertise, is boring. She does not excite voters. The excitement gap, as it is called, threatens the Democratic Party with low voter turnout. It seems that, although Clinton enjoys a plurality of polled supporters, many of these supporters are only part of the bandwagon and relying on name recognition to make a decision. These voters do not necessarily like Hillary Clinton. Among the punditry, the situation is alarmingly similar. Most of those who insist that Clinton will win the Democratic primaries focus on her positioning, not her policies or proposals. “She will win because she’s winning. She can win because most voters support her. Most voters support her because she can win.”
Strangely, it seems that the Democratic Party and the mainstream media are backing a candidate whose support is like a house of cards – created of little substance and quick to tumble when calamity strikes. Now, I am not surprised that these biased entities have thrown in their lot with Clinton: Economic game theory easily explains why being biased in favor of Clinton, versus being biased in favor of anyone else, has lower opportunity costs. On paper, Hillary Clinton does appear most likely to win the White House, and she has tremendous support from within the Washington establishment. A media outlet that is not pro-Hillary could lose big if she wins the election…but a media outlet that is not pro-Bernie does not face similar risks. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), due to his status as an “outsider” and long-shot challenger, is expected to be grateful and magnanimous toward the media and the establishment if he does win an upset victory.
Hillary Clinton may take revenge upon media outlets and Congressmen who have been pro-Bernie in the form of isolating them from the White House and her administration. This appears to be tacitly accepted and expected.
However, despite all the support Clinton has received from the establishment and the media, her campaign may be afraid. In a change of strategy, Hillary Clinton is finally putting her husband Bill on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton, the vaunted Democratic president who oversaw a booming economy during the 1990s, is essentially Democratic royalty. He has always been more popular than his wife and has been widely known for his uncanny campaign skills, able to make voters feel warm and fuzzy. The punditry, both conservative and liberal, have reacted cautiously, if not skeptically, to Hillary’s decision to put Bill on the stump.
Though Bill Clinton may give voters ’90s nostalgia, his past could be considered a can of worms. While “Bubba” was immensely popular on the campaign trail in 1992 and 1996, when he won his two terms in the Oval Office, it was not until 1998 that his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky became news and he found himself impeached. Since 1996, a lot has changed in American society that could dampen its reception of Bill Clinton on the stump.
Alleged sexual assaults aside, Bill Clinton on the campaign trail is a risk for Hillary due to a tremendous mis-match in their respective campaign messages. In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton handily won the White House by being the candidate who was looking forward, not backward. His Republican opponents, both old men, spoke of “traditional values” and focused on America’s past successes. Clinton, young and vibrant, wanted to build a bridge to the 21st century. Voters wanted this.
Hillary Clinton, alarmingly, is campaigning on the opposite of Bill’s 1992 message. She is not appealing to future change and reform, but rather trying to highlight her past experience. Instead of heeding her husband’s famous message of “it’s the economy, stupid,” Hillary is more focused on foreign policy and gun control. Her aggressive foreign policy and her promise of no new taxes on the middle class is far more reminiscent of George Bush, Sr. than Bill Clinton.
Instead, it is Bernie Sanders, with his bold economic reform proposals, who the true successor of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Sanders, not Clinton, epitomizes the spirit of ’92 by looking forward, to an American economy that is more fair and prosperous. And, of course, Bernie Sanders fills this role without toting all of the scandalous baggage associated with the Clinton power couple. Americans can love Bernie without having to agonize over whether or not ___________ behavior was ethical.
Imagine how much more successful Bill Clinton would have been during his two presidential campaigns if he had enjoyed Bernie Sanders’ reputation for unrivaled integrity.
During the next Democratic debate, I would love to see Hillary Clinton try to explain how her current candidacy and policy proposals fit with those of her husband during his two presidential campaigns. When comparisons are made, it will become increasingly apparent that Hillary Clinton is a blatant flip-flopper. Though she is attempting to use her husband’s 1990s popularity to her advantage, she espouses few of the values he praised in 1992. Her 2016 candidacy is more reminiscent of his Republican opponent during that same election!
Bill Clinton was a revolutionary figure in 1992, and Bernie Sanders is that revolutionary figure today…and without all the baggage. Bernie2016!