Clinton steps up: Other candidates must come forward to challenge Hillary


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The Independent Online

Hillary Clinton, it seems, will finally announce tomorrow that she is running for the White House in 2016.

Her chosen method, it appears, will not be before a crowd of the adoring faithful but via social media. After all, a candidate who will be close to 69 should she win – older than any incoming president bar Ronald Reagan – must show she is in touch with the trends of the day.

And therein lies a central problem of Mrs Clinton’s bid. Her ability and her qualifications, as the former First Lady, US senator and Secretary of State, are not in doubt. It is also high time that America followed almost every other developed country and chose a woman as its leader. But the entire enterprise leaves many people, and not a few within her own Democratic Party, slightly uneasy.

US presidential elections are about the future, not the past – and Hillary Clinton is identified with the past. Admittedly, that past is the relatively happy and prosperous Bill Clinton era. But the “dynasty” problem, the sense that she is somehow automatically entitled to the highest office in the land, remains.

More seriously, despite two decades close to the summit of public life, it is not clear what she stands for. The right sees her as a champion of statism and big government. Many on the left believe she is too close to Wall Street, and less concerned than she should be about the crucial issue of America’s growing social inequality.

Yet she still has no serious competition for the nomination. Rarely, in an open election such as next year’s, has a party put its eggs so unequivocally in a single basket. Mrs Clinton, as 2008 showed, is not the greatest campaigner. Other Democrats must come forward to challenge her in the primaries – at the least to help to hone her skills as a candidate, ahead of what will be a no-holds-barred battle with Republicans in the election that follows.