Search for a Maintenance President: Thoughts on Hillary Clinton's Candidacy

This Sunday, Hillary Clinton announced her long-expected candidacy for the presidency, her second time seeking the office. There are a lot of similarities to her candidacy this time to the last time she ran for president eight years ago. Then, as now, she had an aura of inevitability, an excitement around the possibility of the United States electing its first woman president, and a political machinery that reckoned to be rivaled.

But it was rivaled, as we all know.

There are some things different this time also, however. She has served a term as Secretary of State - which is about as high as one gets in the foreign policy arena apart from being President. She has faced down Republican inquisition on Benghazi in her official capacity, and by some accounts, she has pledged to run a less poll-tested campaign.

So what do I think about her candidacy this time?

Let me start by saying that President Obama has not only earned my respect and support, but my loyalty. He has enacted historic changes in American domestic and foreign policy, and he will be remembered by history as one of the most transformative presidents in US history.

Hillary Clinton will be no match for that. In fact, no one will. Barack Obamas don't come along every election cycle. Leaders of President Obama's caliber come along once a century; once a half century if we're lucky. Comparing the next president to Barack Obama will result in monumental disappointment, regardless of who succeeds him to the Oval Office. That's the hard truth.

Another hard truth is that the next president does not need to be another Barack Obama. What we need for the next two presidential terms is a maintenance president. We need a maintenance president who will not allow the GOP to repeal or gut the monumental and transformative achievements of the Obama years. We need a maintenance president who will competently maintain the Affordable Care Act, the banking reform, and President Obama's new start in foreign policy.

If we are able to get a maintenance president for the eight years following the end of this president's term, the Obama achievements will become so ingrained in the American psyche and policy that successive administrations and Congresses will find it difficult to attack those seriously, the same way Republicans now find it difficult to directly attack Medicare and Social Security.

In my judgment, Hillary Clinton will make a fine maintenance president. For those who are more excited than me about a Clinton candidacy, don't let the term 'maintenance president' make you think it's insignificant. Maintaining President Obama's achievements and new directions will be no easy task. It will take a tenacious leader and a shrewd politician familiar with the ways of Washington and ready for the tough fights. Clinton has shown that at least when it comes to hitting back at the Right, she is nobody's fool.

Let me be clear: electing the first female president will be a watershed moment in our country's history, and it will be a moment of celebration for all of us who care about the advancement of minority and women's rights. We don't need to be wearing "Ready for Hillary" hats to understand the breaking down of this barrier, nor to celebrate it. In that way, if there is a Clinton presidency in 2017, it may not be transformative for our country the way Barack Obama's has been, but it will be historic.

Speaking of history, however, let us not forget what happened eight years ago. I do not believe in coronations. Hillary Clinton may look inevitable now, but there's no telling what will happen in the next year or so, and a year is a few lifetimes in politics. I don't know who else will run in the Democratic primary - and whoever does I assure you will be no match for Barack Obama of 2007-2008 - but those other candidates deserve a look on their own merits rather than be swept into a HRC storm.

TPV will not be jumping on the "inevitability" train for Clinton, nor, however, will we become an "anyone-but-HRC" bandwagon unto our own. I know that this community has come together around our admiration for President Obama and his work, and we will stay together to protect his work. Personally, my vote in the primary, which remains undecided at this point, will go to whichever Democrat running has been most loyal to this President and has the best plans and chance to preserve his achievements.

As Democrats running begin to release their platforms, TPV will do what we do best: analyze policy, spark debates based on facts, and tell the truth. I would like to say that we will do that for Republican candidates too, but I doubt any of them will be able to tear themselves away from the death grip of the flat earthers, I mean birthers, in their intense but shrinking uber-Right base.

Lastly, let me say that I have not forgotten - like many others - the deep wounds of the Hillary campaign in 2008 and the dirty tricks her campaign tried to use to beat Barack Obama. That wound is still too raw among too many. But as someone squarely in your corner, I would ask you to look to President Obama. He moved past the wounds of the campaign and got to rebuilding our country. When he did, he made Hillary Clinton a key partner as his Secretary of State, just as after the ugliness of the primaries were over, President Clinton and then-Sen. Clinton worked hard to elect Barack Obama.

If Barack Obama could forgive and move on, after all that has been done to him, then we do this once-in-a-lifetime leader a disservice by not reminding ourselves to follow in his footsteps.

Let's use this thread as an open thread for thoughts on the Hillary Clinton candidacy, the Democratic primary, and the presidential race in general.



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