Photo By Ally Shepapard
By Gabrielle Wilkosz
When I sit down with Hillary Clinton in my dreams I see her big, bulging arm muscles, her sly smirk and her shameless Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves haircut.
I say, “Hillary. Baby. Are you up for the challenge of saving the world?”
She says, “No comment.”
To assert the road to the election of 2016 being bumpy for Clinton would be an understatement. The former Secretary of State has not only had to overcome the most suspiciously-timed email controversy known to man, but has also made the unpopular habit of holding her piece instead of taking a stance on really, anything. Since she announced her candidacy in April of this year, the political arena knows little of Clinton besides how powerful she is and how good she is at remaining hush-hush to keep that power. But her silence, just like Kevin Costner’s ratty Civil War vest in Dances With Wolves, is wearing thin.
Despite her status as the presumptive Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race, Clinton’s remarkable resources as a candidate seem somehow lacking as Republican nominee and T.V. personality Donald Trump trails closely behind. A recent CNN poll shows Clinton narrowly tops Trump in Florida, 46% to 42%, while Clinton and Trump run about evenly in Ohio (43% Clinton to 42% Trump).
Still, the neck and neck poll approximations don’t account for all factors. In 2014, Clinton’s Ready for Hillary super PAC raised $9 million not including speculative future donors. Yet none of this compares to the $2.5 billion total Clinton is expected to spend in a period of roughly 19 months. By this measure, Clinton’s campaign is more than twice the record amount that was spent to re-elect President Obama in 2012, and about $700 million more than the total spent for both Romney and Obama in that election.
But these are just economic footholds. Clinton’s reputation is well-earned from her experience as the only first lady to become a U.S. senator to her work under the Obama Administration as Secretary of State, and even her honors as Forbes 2nd most powerful woman in the world (the first of course being Clinton’s doppelgänger, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel).
So why then are many of us with the Clinton campaign ‘just not feeling it’? The answer is best illustrated not by comparing Clinton with her Republican adversary, Trump, but by evaluating Clinton with her same-party competition Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
When turning to the numbers, the candidate who repeatedly says he’s held liberal positions on economic issues and civil rights for decades leads by a majority in New Hampshire and is within single digits of Clinton in the state of Iowa. Both of Clinton’s competitors in the media limelight have one thing in common: their ability to tell it as they view it. No doubt Sanders tucks himself into bed for a night of hippy Woodstock dreams, joining in on the Washington moratorium against the Vietnam War, while Trump dreams of making high stake overseas Nerf gun deals. Regardless of their quirky personalities and how they may or may not appeal to the general public, Trump and Sanders make clear what they can do for the people and why. Clinton on the other hand, in all her prestige and glory, says very little.
Ultimately, despite Clinton’s expanse of high profile supporters (sadly this excludes Ben and Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, who decidedly are siding with Sanders) and her overqualified work experience resume, it remains to be seen if Clinton can direct the same prowess she has at making a political career for herself and deliver an effective message to voters. If Clinton wants to win the ticket she must distinguish herself from the mythological figure she’s become, by communicating a clear message of who she is and what her goals are.
Voters want to know if Clinton is the super politician she’s rumored as, or if she is the get-it-done woman who we want to kiss our babies and shake hands with. The answers to this question and others are as elusive as Clinton herself. Honestly, only time will tell.