The suspense is over. Hillary Clinton is running for president. Gird yourselves for a grim forced march to a Democratic coronation.
Republican candidates should do more than that, obviously. Although the Republicans will spend the next several months running against one another, none should lose sight of their likely general-election opponent and her message. Making the case for themselves should encompass making the case against Clinton and for conservative principles and policies that will appeal not only to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina Republicans next spring, but to most Americans come November 2016.
Although Hillary Clinton has mostly avoided statements of substance, she obviously sees America’s economic sluggishness much as the current president does — as a consequence of income inequality, a stingy minimum wage, the decline of labor unions, and, in general, America’s turn to the right in the Reagan era.
All indications are that Clinton plans to repackage her husband’s economic policies, peddling the notion that they turned the economy around in the 1990s and can do so again — dubious contentions both. The recession that Bill Clinton ran against in 1992 was already over when he took office, and while he was sound on a few issues — NAFTA, for instance — his most extravagantly liberal initiatives were defeated early in his presidency, and thereafter the new Republican Congress brought needed restraint on taxes, regulation, and spending. In any case, the economy is greatly changed from the 1990s, so we cannot benefit from the favorable demographic and geopolitical trends of that era. And we aren’t going to boost stagnating middle-class incomes by promoting labor unions or rationing carbon.
Running against a recycled agenda is a necessary component of a Republican victory next year, but not a sufficient one. Clinton’s opponents should articulate an economic agenda broader and deeper than cuts to marginal tax rates and vague calls for deregulation. That agenda should include market-based health-care policies to replace Obamacare and increase coverage while lowering costs; reforms to break up the higher-education cartel that has saddled millions of Americans with crushing student-loan debt; tax relief for middle-class parents; and policies that would capitalize on America’s rich energy resources, which the current administration has ignored or abandoned.
Clinton’s tenure as America’s chief diplomat, meanwhile, will help her little. Beyond her being famously well traveled, Clinton led a Department of State best known now for the misbegotten “reset” with Russia, for administering special favors to administration donors, for ignoring requests for increased security at the American consulate in Libya, and for an illicit e-mail arrangement for Clinton and her closest aides. Clinton was complicit in President Obama’s failed foreign policy from the beginning, and there is little to suggest that she rejects its erroneous premises. What we can expect from a Clinton administration is a continuation of Obama’s policies, with even worse ethics.
#related#The current Republican field should set out a strong, responsible alternative to the Democratic strategy of preemptive capitulation. Reasserting the vitality of NATO, arming our allies in Kurdistan and Ukraine, redoubling sanctions against the Iranian regime, reaching out to alienated allies (such as Israel) — there is much the United States can do, in both the short and the long term, to secure America and American interests abroad.
No one is inevitable. Hillary Clinton has been hovering about the heights of American political power for nearly three decades, yet she has almost no substantive accomplishments to show for it, and her best plans for the next eight years are likely to be the repurposed policies of Democratic administrations past. She’s beatable, and the substantive work to prepare the ground for defeat should begin now.