Key to Her Success Lies in Connecting with the American People
By Clifford Michel
On Sunday April 12, Hillary Clinton formally launched herself into the 2016 race for the White House, uploading a video on social media, framing herself as a champion of every day Americans.
Clinton’s video, entitled “Getting Started,” featured retirees, blue-collar workers, single mothers, new parents, small business owners, same-sex couples, and college students.
“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Hillary said in her video announcement. “Every day Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion so you can do more than just get by, you can get ahead and stay ahead. Because when families are strong, America is strong.”
Following her announcement, Clinton made her way to Iowa, one of the most important states in presidential election cycles, to hold town hall-style meetings with voters.
The former Secretary of State showed signs of adopting liberal tendencies in her conversations as she compared CEO pay to worker pay and criticized hedge fund managers.
“There’s something wrong where CEOs make 300 times the typical worker, there’s something wrong when American workers keep getting more productive,” Clinton told students and educators.
She continued, “That productivity is not matched in their paychecks, when hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80 when I was driving here over the last two days.”
While her policy positions are far from set in stone, Clinton’s patterns thus far show that the long-time politician will slowly unroll her positions and plans for the future if elected.
Thus far, Clinton has announced her position on criminal justice reform. Her announcement comes in the midst of riots in Baltimore, Maryland in response to the death of Freddie Gray, who died of severe injuries while in custody. The riots have been part of a national trend in response to the deaths of black men in cases of police brutality such as Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and many others that have incited protests and a demand for policy change.
“There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison in their lifetimes, and an estimated 1.5 million black men are missing from their families and communities because of incarceration and premature death,” said Clinton.
In her first step away from the direction of the Obama administration she advocated for the use of body cameras.
President Obama has created a task force on “21st Century Policing,” but has largely stayed away from the national conversation of police brutality.
She said that cameras should be “the norm everywhere” and that “this is a common-sense step.”
Clinton is expected to reveal more policy points and stances on national issues as the campaign trail continues.
Clinton is the first Democratic candidate to announce a run for the 2016 election and is widely believed to face few, if any, challengers from her own party.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent and voracious liberal, is expected to announce his candidacy but not expected to impose a serious challenge to Clinton.
Elizabeth Warren, a professor turned U.S. Senator and another staunch liberal, has attracted a great deal of attention for her stances on Wall Street, student loan debt, and other issues dear to the left. Her popularity has manifested into a campaign of its own: Run Warren Run, a grassroots movement meant to urge Warren to run for president.
Still, Warren has showed no signs of even exploring the possibility of running for President, paving the way for Clinton’s almost inevitable Democratic nomination.
The impending result will likely push Clinton to the left on certain issues to maintain a liberal base that has been itching for another candidate.
Clinton, after more than 25 years in the public spotlight, also has to deal with personal demons that have stuck around over time: the view that she doesn’t understand middle and working class Americans.
The widespread belief among voters, and her need to change their opinions of her, can be seen in her 2008 and 2016 campaign launch videos.
In 2008, she made the announcement from her mansion. In 2015, she doesn’t come in until a minute into the video and when she does make an appearance, her stance is consistently focused on the American people.
In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Clinton—who swings a $250,000 speaking fee and has made millions from it—said that her and President Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001.
The recent controversy with Clinton using a private server and email address during her days as Secretary of State draws on a long-held belief about the Clintons—that they believe they are above the system.
This caused TIME to publish a cover with Clinton sporting two devilish horns in silhouette, with the title: “The Clinton Way.”
While the email controversy has died down, opponents will likely draw on it later on as the race heats up.
Rand Paul’s campaign quickly responded to Clinton’s announcement on criminal justice, criticizing her past support for the “War on Drugs.”
“Not only is Hillary Clinton trying to undo some of the harm inflicted by the Clinton administration, she is now emulating proposals introduced by Senator Rand Paul over the last several years, and we welcome her to the fight,” the campaign’s statement said.
Paul’s response is reflects a larger issue that Clinton’s campaign will have to face: getting over the years of public policy support that opponents, especially younger candidates, can draw from to make Clinton seem out of date or out of touch with Americans.
On foreign-policy, the G.O.P. has much to draw from Clinton’s time during the Obama presidency. Everything from the Benghazi controversy to drone strikes is on the table.
Ted Cruz, a Texas Senator, has also taken up this stance and told the Washington Times that “she owns the Obama-Clinton foreign policy” and that “she designed and implemented ‘lead from behind’—and the whole world is on fire right now.”
Marco Rubio, another young Senator, this time from Florida, gunning for the presidency, attacked Clinton’s ideas, calling them outdated.
“If we don’t begin to address 21st century problems with 21st century ideas, we’re going to leave millions of people behind permanently,” Rubio told Katie Couric for Yahoo News. “We can’t afford that. That would be a death-blow to the American dream.”
There is little doubt that an experienced politician such as Clinton can hold her own and find herself with a lot more than a decent shot at the White House.
The question with Clinton lies within her years of shifting policy, her nature of secrecy, and above all, her ability to truly connect with the American people.