When it comes to discussing the approaching 2016
presidential election, one name tends to dominate the conversation: Hillary
Clinton. A former first
lady, highly regarded U.S. senator from New York and a dynamic Secretary of
State, she is widely expected to make her second run for the White House as President
Obama finishes his final two years in office.
Even here at the Claremont Colleges, momentum for a Clinton
presidential campaign has been steadily building. At the end of last semester,
dozens of Claremont students braved the frigid evening air, waiting outside for
the arrival of the “Ready for Hillary” Super PAC bus. When it finally arrived,
people were clamoring over each other in a frenzy to get ahold of assorted
campaign posters and stickers being handed out by the Super PAC.
So why is it exactly that we are all so excited about
Hillary Clinton? Perhaps, most
obviously, because Clinton would become the first woman to ever serve as leader of
the free world. Electing a female president would certainly be an incredible
milestone for the United States on the long road toward overcoming
gender inequality. Furthermore, she has advocated for a number of key causes,
including her push for healthcare reform in the 1990s.
To be sure, Clinton has the experience and credentials
to do the job. It would be challenging for anyone to make the argument that she
would be an incompetent or inept president.
But here’s the big problem: Hillary Clinton is the ultimate Washington insider. Nobody
plays the game of politics like her, and in many ways she is the embodiment of
the political establishment and status quo that make everyday Americans so
frustrated with how the government operates. For over 20 years she has been
considered one of the most powerful players in Washington, D.C., ultimately
solidifying her place in what has become a formidable political dynasty.
It is also important to note that Clinton is not
exactly a part of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing. There are a number
of policy issues where her views are, in a word, outdated. She opposes the
decriminalization of marijuana and continues to support the death penalty. She
voted in favor of the 2003 Iraq War at the behest of George W. Bush and only
tepidly came out in favor of same-sex marriage when it became abundantly clear
that she had to.
What is perhaps the most unsettling are Clinton’s close
ties with some of the most powerful special interests in the nation. It’s no
secret that she has been an obedient friend to corporate America. In fact, some of
her biggest campaign donors in the past have been Wall Street investment banks
and major corporations, which she has all too eagerly courted. There are also
plenty of indications that she would have a cozy relationship with the
massively influential Israel lobby, perhaps striking a more accommodating
relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultra-right-wing regime.
If you are a bleeding-heart, progressive-minded,
card-carrying Democrat like I am, you should keep your mind open to the
possibility of other presidential contenders. There are quite a few interesting
people who could make for good candidates, including Wisconsin Senator Tammy
Baldwin, Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Maryland governor Martin O’Malley or
even Vermont Senator and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders.
Sadly, my personal favorite, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth
Warren, has on several occasions made it clear she has no intention of launching
her own presidential bid. A candidate like Warren, who is not afraid to speak
out on issues such as reforming the financial system or easing the burden of
student loans, would bring a much-needed end to the status quo that plagues our
There is no doubt that political pundits and commentators
will continue to discuss the inevitability of a Hillary Clinton candidacy and
presidency in the coming months. But this concept of inevitability only exists
insofar as we voters are willing to allow it. I personally am far from ready
to jump aboard the Hillary Clinton bandwagon, and I hope that true progressives
(of which we seem to have no shortage here at the 5Cs) will do some serious
soul-searching before they decide to settle for Hillary.
Chance Kawar PZ ’17 is
a political studies major from San Diego, Calif. He currently serves as
sophomore class president at Pitzer College.