In the stillness of a cold winter day, obligations chilled between frosty holidays, two years stretch out in a lounging recline to define the moment. One is the year past, and the other is the year ahead. For the whirl of politics, defined in soundbites and constant lobbying, the break is an unusual calm for clearer heads.
Next year, 2015, will be the year in which the campaign for a new President takes shape. That will in turn define 2016 in politics and set us up for what is certainly shaping up to indeed be the Year Everything Changes in 2017. For the long journey that will come to define whatever hero we place in the office to define our world at the start of the next boomtime. For all that, it is shaping up to be one person who can take it – if she really does want it.
This next year is likely to be the one that defines Secretary Hillary Clinton, and in so doing may define the next great era of the United States. It’s all about how she manages “inevitability”.
It’s not as though Clinton hasn’t been here before. If you asked anyone at the turn of 2007 they would have told you she was the frontrunner to be where Obama is today. The experience she gained from that race and everything since then is only part of her package, however. A great place to see her life laid out is in Hillary: The Coloring Book. What better credentials does someone need to prove they are more of a pop icon than just a politician?
And that’s exactly what Clinton is. Her story is one of a generation, starting with her conservative childhood as a Goldwater Girl. She then turned radical, earned a degree at Wellesley, met a charming young man on the go, and gradually assumed the positions of power you would expect from someone like her.
What makes the coloring book fun is not just that it lays out her past but it also predicts the future just by being what it is. Clinton is a symbol for a generation – a woman who has worked her way to the top. Managing inevitability is her biggest problem because everyone has to be gunning for her.
Of course, there will be a Republican standing in her way. The problems for Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or anyone else moderate enough to stand a chance of winning start with the built-in advantage for Democrats in the Electoral College, which is going to be very hard to overtake. That’s assuming that they can get past their own party’s infighting in the first place.
But first, there will be Democratic challengers. Clinton is still that Goldwater Girl at heart, definitely hawkish and more than a establishment. The same attributes that got us this far, as chronicled in the coloring book, have opened the doors that might now trap her inside.
Then again, what the Democratic Party needs is leadership, difficult as that is for us. To say that Democratic leadership is like herding cats would be unfair to cats because they complain a lot less. But anyone who is likely to challenge Clinton has to know that – starting with the rising star of the party, Sen Warren (D-MA).
Several things stand out with Warren right away. First of all, she shows no signs of wanting to be President, staking her claim as an “outsider”. You can take that at her word or see it as a cynical plot to run from the outside if you want. But the dynamic can be viewed from another perspective if you see Warren as a genuine crusader, more concerned with her cause than her own ambition – which I think is accurate.
All Warren has to do is wait until the calls for her to run must be answered and then meet with Clinton. The two could emerge from a meeting and announce that they have the same reform agenda, spelled out in detail. With Warren’s strong endorsement the situation that won a huge majority for ultimate establishment candidate FDR, with the backing of Henry Wallace’s progressive wing, would be in place.
Why is Clinton the better choice? Because as an insider, she can get things done. What remains to be seen is how she is sold – which is where the coloring book comes back in to play. Inevitability has to include pop icon status, after all, something Obama achieved first in 2008 when “inevitability” wasn’t managed by Clinton very well.
But this is the challenge for 2015. We have to look back over the last few years and see who has proven themselves, and that points to Clinton. Then, we have to look forward to see how the mantle of inevitability that comes with her status is managed.
We’ll know by a year from now how well it’s going because we can look at the mistakes she made in 2007. Yes, it will play out on the internet in a zillion memes and facebook posts. But it starts with things like Hillary: The Coloring Book. All the details of her life are there, short and to the point. And you can fill in between the lines to add your own detail. It’s fun for the whole family!
That’s how you manage inevitability. 2015 is going to be an interesting time to be a Democrat.