Muller: Democrats in denial of 2016 election


Yoni Muller, Opinion Editor

Well, she’s done it again. Hillary Clinton decided to open her mouth in public, and naturally a frenzy ensued. New York Magazine on Sunday published an interview with the former secretary of state and asked her about her potential 2016 bid for the White House. She admitted to wrestling with the idea of running for the presidency and said little more to provide any strong indication that such a bid may happen.

And yet, that interview, which should have amounted to nothing more than a tease, was met with unbridled euphoria by Democrats across the nation and a sense of certainty that not only will Clinton run in 2016, but also that she will win in a landslide.

Frankly, I think Democrats are making a colossal mistake by putting this much faith in Clinton. If she chooses to run, she may indeed be a formidable candidate (which is not to say infallible — I’m sure many Republicans said the same of Romney). However, such a decision is far from a sure thing, and her absence in the election will leave Democrats poorly positioned.

Let’s consider the facts: Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye since her husband was first elected governor of Arkansas in 1979. That’s more than 30 years of intense media scrutiny, which is tiring for anyone, but particularly so for a person who would be 69 by the time of her election. For those keeping score at home, that would make her the second-oldest elected president in American history, right behind another longtime Democratic favorite, Ronald “Ragtag” Reagan.

I find it unlikely that someone who has already accomplished so much, who is almost as old as John McCain was during his run — have we forgotten fearing his imminent death? — is gearing up for what she hopes would be eight years of the most stressful job in the world. Despite that, it appears Clinton has already captured the majority of support within her field. A recent CNN survey asked Democrats and left-leaning independents who they would support in 2016: Clinton came in first place with 65 percent. Second place was septuagenarian Joe Biden with 10 percent.

The sad fact of the matter is the list of potential Democratic nominees is incredibly short. After bashing my head for longer than is normal thinking of alternative nominees, I came up with four: Elizabeth Warren, who barely won her own Senate race and is 64; Andrew Cuomo, a rising star with two years of experience as governor of New York; Martin O’Malley, a fair contender if anyone ever heard of him (1,000 points if you know what office he holds); and Julian Castro, a man with so little recognition and experience I remembered him only as “that young guy from San Antonio.”

Democrats can continue to boast about the inevitable Democratic victory by their champion Hillary Clinton, scoffing at Republicans who are so 100 years ago. However, if she chooses not to run, or if her responsibility for Benghazi — something many Democrats seem to conveniently overlook — becomes a political liability, the party will be caught with its pants down, ambushed by Republicans such as Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal.

The dynamics of this election as they stand should concern any Democrat. The party that likes to see itself as young and progressive has six potential candidates, all of whom are white, and half of whom are old enough to receive Social Security checks that Democrats love so much. Republicans, on the other hand, have one Indian-American and two Hispanic frontrunners, as well as four candidates under 45 in an extremely crowded space. Unless people stop seeing Clinton as their knight in shining armor — undoubtedly preparing for the easiest battle of her life — and start surveying the field for other potential contenders, I think many will be quite shocked come 2016.

Yoni Muller is a Weinberg junior. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].