In November this year, the citizens of the United States will be choosing the next person responsible in leading the country. There is a lot of controversy regarding the winner of the elections. What makes it more intriguing is a woman being amongst the candidates, and the possibility for her to be the first female American leader. Will she have what it takes for such a position?
‘Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion’
Starting her career as the first American First Lady to ever win a public office seat in 2001, when she became United States Senator, Hillary Clinton entered a man’s world trying to make a difference. Later, from 2009 until 2013 she occupied the position of 67th US Secretary of State under President Barrack Obama. This gave her the opportunity to promote the rights of women throughout the world, travelling in a variety of countries to prove her point.
‘We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her God-given potential.’
Clinton did not know whether it would be smart to run for president again. She, in fact, experienced a failure in 2008, losing in the Democratic primaries against current president Barack Obama. After carefully analysing what went wrong back then with her campaign, in December 2014 she took the decision to run again, fighting with all means to win. Her entire life was directed towards this moment, towards this challenge she is now facing. Despite being the only woman, she seems to be having strong chances in the elections, confirmed by the fact that she has already made a name for herself. Everybody saw her in action during the Iowa Caucus, being the first woman ever to win it.
Iowa Caucus, 2016
She is an inspiration for women who struggle to make their voice heard in a world dominated by men.
‘We are here to advance the cause of women and to advance the cause of democracy and to make it absolutely clear that the two are inseparable. There cannot be true democracy unless women’s voices are heard. There cannot be true democracy unless women are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives.’
To understand what Clinton’s candidacy represents it is important to identify what the implications of her appointment as President would, at least hypothetically, lead to. It is, in fact, fundamental to understand the core issues she is raising, her eventual policy, and the important possibility for the first woman to ever win the American presidency. Some of the causes that Clinton is basing and focusing her entire candidacy on cover a wide range of problematic issues which comprise the raise of middle class incomes, the expanding of women’s rights and the improvement of the Affordable Care Act, now referred to as Obamacare. The latter has been one of the main changes that Obama’s presidency has dealt with and developed, crucial for an American society that constantly deals with unaffordable healthcare and the interests of insurance companies. Understanding the importance of the issue, Clinton manifested the will to take care of the flaws in Obama’s plan by making healthcare more accessible, in direct proportions to the differences of income and of medical conditions. This would be achieved, for example, by making sure for health care plans to cover three sick visits to a doctor each year, together with setting a maximum expense of $250 a month for people with chronic diseases. Also, Clinton suggests an income-based tax credit to support out-of-pocket costs. Those whose medical bills exceed 5 percent of their income would, therefore, be eligible for credits which would amount to as much as $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families. Along with these prepositions, which follow a guideline leading to the protection of citizens, Clinton directs her premises towards the unfolding of the Medicare Part D. The latter, a drug benefit program, operates because the negotiations of plans and costs are made between the insurers and drug companies. What Clinton wants to achieve instead is for the federal government to negotiate the prices directly with the manufacturers.
Another key element present both in Obama’s administration and in Clinton’s campaign is that of the LGBT community. In this regard, Clinton seeks to include the right to marriage for same-sex couples in the constitution and proposes a discourse that points out the importance of a life free from discrimination.
‘We should ban discrimination against LGBT Americans and their families so they can live, learn, marry, and work just like everybody else.’
On the parity side, Clinton also raises core issues. She, in fact, wants to address wage inequality between men and women who perform the same job.
Following the pattern of addressing discrimination in American society, she also claims to be espousing the cause for undocumented immigrants to earn driver’s licenses and become citizens. It ‘is at its heart a family issue,’ she declared. This underlines the fact that not only do they deserve to feel they are part of the system but that America would also strongly socially and economically benefit from such a recognition. Indeed, more and more immigrants contribute to strengthen America by spurring the economic growth, nourishing innovation and bringing a unique cultural diversity.
As she emphasises the importance of family concerning immigration issues, she goes on and tackles the subject on another level with the Common Core. Her campaign is, in fact, aimed at endorsing a Common Core, which would enable every child to develop the necessary skills to achieve success. She denounces the politicization of the current Common Core which was promoted by business and political elites who wanted to impose their educational vision on the country. Indeed, there were 24 members of the Standards Development Work Group, who had minimal K-12 classroom teaching experience, and had never taught in elementary school or instructed children with disabilities or non-english speakers. This is a salient issue where Clinton has to make a choice: whether to side with the business interests that want to see the Common Core implemented no matter what, or, with teachers and parents who see that the standards lead to adverse educational consequences. The position followed by Clinton in this debate is still detectable in other fields, exemplified by her opinion on financial activities and the issue on gun violence.
In line with her positions towards the business and finance world, she is advocating for regulating Wall Street financial activities. Her aim is to reduce the risks of future crises and make the financial system a fairer one. Along with other plans, she will impose a risk fee on the largest financial institutions, will make sure no firm is too big to be managed effectively, and will impose a tax on high-frequency trading.
‘Our banking system is still too complex and too risky … While institutions have paid large fines and in some cases admitted guilt, too often it has seemed that the human beings responsible get off with limited consequences – or none at all, even when they’ve already pocketed the gains. This is wrong, and on my watch, it will change.’
Concerning the gun violence issue, Clinton seeks to put a stop to it by increasing the number of gun sales subject to background checks, which would aim at keeping the guns away from the hands of domestic abusers, violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill people.
‘I don’t know how we keep seeing shooting after shooting, read about the people murdered because they went to Bible study or they went to the movies or they were just doing their job, and not finally say we’ve got to do something about this.’’
Clinton’s road towards the presidential position is filled with obstacles to overcome. Even after earning her place in this competition, critics are accusing her of being untrustworthy and dishonest. There is for example an ongoing FBI investigation on whether she broke the law when she used a private e-mail server during her times as the secretary of the state.In the same way, the fact that she was a member of Obama’s cabinet, and more broadly part of the Democratic establishment can play against her. For instance, The Senator of Kentucky and Republican Rand Paul suggest that Clinton cannot offer anything new to the Americans.
She is trying to distance herself from the politics of the Obama administration and especially of its foreign policy. In an interview with Atlantic she criticized it, saying that: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” She also added that the ‘failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against [Syrian President Bashar al- Assad] — there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle — (…) [that] left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.’
Each candidate for the presidential elections present himself or herself while bringing his or her whole past along. This makes controversies unavoidable. All Clinton did in her entire life is now an open book, and even if there are scandals, she is a candidate with strong potential. Clinton will definitely bring a huge change to American politics if she wins the presidential position, especially for women’s representation in the White House. There are huge chances for her to win it, but nothing is written yet, it will depend on what comes next. In any case, the focus on her should definitely be maintained.
Andreea Badiu is currently in her first year of studying Politics. She has an attention for details, and is critical with each article or book that she reads. She is interested in all that happens in the world and wants to understand big issues tormenting the stage of world politics along with making a change.