Friday, January 20th 2017, must have been especially painful and difficult for Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, having to attend and sit through the Inauguration of the man Donald Trump who had beaten her to the Presidency of the United States and with that dashed a life long held ambition and dream to become the first woman American President and head a liberal feminist administration in pursuit above all of social progress and educational achievement. It marked the end of a ten year effort on the part of Mrs. Clinton having announced her first campaign for the Presidency on January 20th 2007. However, the ending of an era was much more than just this ten year period. For sixteen years, ever since the Clintons left the White House and Hillary began her own political career as a New York Senator on Capitol Hill. there had been intense speculation and expectation that the Clintons would one day be back in the White House with Mrs. Clinton serving as President. So last Friday really did mark the end of Hillary Clinton's Presidential aspirations and the reign of the Clintons over the Democratic Party for nearly
Unlike in 2008 when Mrs. Clinton lost the Democratic Presidential Primary contest to then Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, there was a clear path forward for her to once again attempt to achieve her goal of becoming President of the United States and with it becoming the first female leader of the America. She would spend Obama's first term loyally serving as Secretary of State and achieving record approval ratings from the US public. Then she would mount a second bid for 2016. Having secured the Democratic nomination in 2016 but having gone before the electorate and failed to receive a decisive victory over the Republican candidate Donald Trump, it does feel now that Mrs. Clinton has had her chance in Presidential politics and perhaps should retire from it. It was always going to be difficult for a Democrat to win a third term after eight years of a fellow Democrat in the Oval Office. The Democrats have not been able to achieve such a feat since FDR won a third term in 1940 though under the same incumbent leadership and then his successor Harry Truman won a fifth term in his own right after serving out for most of FDR's fourth term won in November 1944.
The last time a US party succeeded on securing a third term after a two term Presidency of their party was George Bush Sr. in 1988.While there have been wild variations in voting at Congressional level, at the Presidential level matters have been remarkably stable lapsing into an almost cyclical rhythm of Democrat/Republican/Democrat/Republican two term administrations. Hillary's moment really was always going to be 2008 at the end of the Bush administration and the financial collapse, not after eight years of Obama and sluggish growth in the aftermath of the Great Recession. With the feeling of Clinton fatigue by 2015 and the outbreak of the email scandal it significantly eroded the goodwill that Hillary Clinton had built up from her tenure as Secretary of State. It was one of the most negative, vicious and aggressive Presidential elections in modern American history and one of the strangest.
It is hard to see Mrs. Clinton subjecting herself to that type of circus again in her early 70s after such a polarized and bitter election. What has made the ending of the Clinton Presidential enterprise all the more painful for their supporters and themselves was that it had been thought in Donald Trump Hillary would prevail and in fact win a Presidential term for her party because of the unsuitability of the Republican nominee. Yet whatever severe doubts there were about Donald Trump's fitness for the office these were diluted when people thought of Hillary Clinton. Hence the failure of Mrs. Clinton to hold on to states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin which have not voted for a Republican for President since the 1980s. I think for Mrs. Clinton the reality that America is still a deeply patriarchal and chauvinist society has sunk in with this election and it is understandable that the result would indicate that perhaps getting a woman elected President is still an extremely tough and unlikely prospect. Having tried valiantly for a second time but having come up short once again what should Mrs. Clinton do next with her and her husbands immense political power base, network, donor supporters and standing?
The idea that she could run for Mayor of New York City in the fall of 2017 and set up a quasi Government in Exile in Manhattan's Gracie Mansion as a paradigm contrast with the Washington DC administration of her victorious rival Donald Trump has its appeal and political excitement factor to it. As Mayor of New York City, one of the countries largest Global Metropolises and home to the United Nations and the financial and media capital of the US with Wall Street banks and large newspaper and television networks, would provide a powerful base to operate from as the local CEO on a national and international stage. However, if Mrs. Clinton has other thoughts such as working more as a roving civic public leader and philanthropist on issues such as women's rights, children's issues, gender equality and racial and social inclusiveness it might be in her interests to start her own Charitable Foundation up and partner with universities, think tanks and other NGOs and Governments to achieve political and policy reform.
Mrs. Clinton is in a unique and privileged position at 69 years old and free to run her own projects and endeavors after 25 years on the high wire of American and Global politics. As a third run in 2020 is highly unlikely and politically far more difficult than her attempts in 2008 and 2016 it might perhaps be wise for her to end on a legacy in her 70s of further public service at important power making levels combined with a social activist non-political position working on education and human rights while lecturing and writing. For Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as their party the Democrats, the realization must be deeply understood, that in all likelihood the idea that both would return one day to the White House with Hillary as the first female President, will not come to pass. It is the closing act in the Clinton's active front-line service in electoral politics especially at the Presidential level. For the Clintons and their admirers and supporters it is difficult to accept that the Clinton story will end with the inability of Mrs. Clinton to follow in the footsteps of Bill and achieve Presidential success.