After several days of anticipation, Hillary Clinton officially announced her 2016 presidential campaign on Sunday. The move is unsurprising, but questions remain about how she will fare in the general election. The recent email scandal in which Clinton was thought to have broken the law by exclusively using a private email address from an unsecured server undermined her integrity. Despite Clinton’s overwhelming popularity, voters must fully scrutinize her platform and consider possible alternatives to her candidacy.
Other well-known potential Democratic candidates include former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren is a particularly progressive candidate who has already shown she is unafraid to take on controversial topics like government profit on student debt and Wall Street’s influence on Congress. While she has said that she will not run this election cycle, supporters are practically begging her to do so. At a book signing event at Strand Bookstore, the audience repeatedly ask her to run during question time and chanted “Run, Liz, Run.” On her recent “Daily Show” appearance she fired up the audience as she talked about finance reform and student debt. She has declared she will not run this cycle, but the landscape could change drastically as things progress.
Even before she announced her candidacy, Clinton controlled news cycles by not making moves to dispel the rumors that she would run, which denied valuable time to other potential nominees to get a word in edgewise. In contrast, other Western countries’ election cycles are limited in time. In 2010, David Cameron took over as U.K. prime minister after a campaign that lasted only a month. The U.S. electioneering machine would do well to take inspiration from the British.
Many political figures, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have already endorsed Clinton’s candidacy a year and a half before the November 2016 election. These type of early affirmations will only hurt the Democrats in the long run by limiting discussion on the merits of other candidates. Mayor Bill de Blasio has notably held off endorsing Clinton, saying he would like to see more of her economic platform. Clinton now has plenty of time to make her positions clear, but the early announcement may hinder the Democratic Party as a whole. While Clinton is overwhelmingly qualified to be president, voters passed on her in 2008 for a reason.
Democrats who question Clinton’s commitment to communities of color and her hawkish foreign policy are now in the awkward position of deciding whether to throw their full weight behind her. A better outcome for Democrats around the country would have been to float and support alternate candidates in the months and years before this. Now that the full weight of the Clinton election juggernaut is getting in gear, it will be harder for another Democrat to contest the nomination.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 14 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]