Hillary Clinton is not the first woman to run for president, but she has a good chance of becoming the first female president of the United States. She has spent nearly three decades in the national spotlight, and has already had two terms of life in the White House. She has also lived through every imaginable political scandal, whether they were her own, or those of her talented, flawed husband.
Talented and flawed. Those words stick to Hillary Clinton in equal proportion. There’s no shortage of think pieces on the internet that have tried to understand why such a talented politician, who seems to have a deep, genuine belief in her political ideals and progressive values, has such a difficult time avoiding controversy.
It’s fair to say that at this point in history, Hillary Clinton attracts outsize attention and scrutiny not entirely because she is a woman, but precisely because she is a woman. That the American people seem to root for her only when she’s not asking for a promotion. But it’s also fair to note that, just as gender is not an indication of ability or talent, gender is not responsible for the cloud that surrounds her and her candidacy.
So, right now, when Democrats want to make history, when they desperately seek to beat a populist, racist demagogue who threatens the foundations of the American experiment, they are left with a candidate who, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange says, will be arrested based on stolen emails he is in possession of, just as soon as he gets around to releasing them.
It’s unclear why Assange would bluff, and the Wikileaks scandal engulfing the Democratic National Committee is a good indicator that there may be cause for concern, not just from Assange, but for what four years of a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean for the national psyche. After eight remarkably scandal-free years under president Obama, Democrats are surely wary of electing a candidate with a hawkish foreign policy who can’t seem to stay above the domestic political fray.
And yet, the call of history weighs upon them. Scandals aside, Hillary Clinton is the most competent, prepared Democratic politician the party can offer. President Obama cleared the way for her, sidelining his own vice president, such was his confidence in her ability to govern. All but the most hardened Bernie Sanders supporters, embittered as they may be right now, will likely hold their noses and cast a vote for Clinton. Her policies are progressive and inclusive, the clear opposite of her opponent’s.
Hillary Clinton was nominated by acclamation, at Bernie Sanders’ parliamentary request, at her convention. That’s something Donald Trump did not attempt at his, because he couldn’t unify the party the way the Democrats seem to be doing today. But nothing about this race seems to be a slam dunk for her. Competent, moderate governance does not seem to be a sought-after quality in a country and world where radicalization seems to only be increasing. Hillary Clinton will have to offer more than that to win the presidency.