Hillary’s dilemma: Change or continuity?

While struggiling to shake off her establishment past that has seen her remain in the limelight for four decades, she also has reasons to be wary of the desirability of such an approach.

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:36 am IST

Published - January 25, 2016 07:07 pm IST - WASHINGTON:

Democratic frontrunner for presidential nomination Hillary Clinton's biggest dilemma will be in scripting her own image that is now conflicted between representing change and continuity.

Democratic frontrunner for presidential nomination Hillary Clinton's biggest dilemma will be in scripting her own image that is now conflicted between representing change and continuity.

On Monday night, when Democratic frontrunner for presidential nomination Hillary Clinton faces off with her increasingly formidable rival Bernie Sanders in a town hall debate, her biggest dilemma will be in scripting her own image that is now conflicted between representing change and continuity.

She is not a natural claimant for an attribute that catapulted the other three top contenders in the race for the next U.S. President – ‘anti-establishment.’ Mr. Sanders within the Democratic Party, and the two Republican frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, all claim to be more ‘anti-establishment’ than the others.

I am the change, she says

“Are you the establishment?” an interviewer asked Ms. Clinton last week. After explaining that Mr. Sanders has been a lawmaker longer, she declared, “I am the change.”

But that change to being the change cannot easily come to someone who has been in the limelight of U.S politics for the last four decades – as First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the U.S, Secretary of State and Senator. Ms. Clinton has 12 Governors, 40 Senators, and at least 150 Representatives endorsing her against two Representatives who endorse Mr. Sanders.

I am anti-establishment: Sanders

“We are bringing in a revolution. We are against the political, economic and corporate establishments in this country. Therefore they are all supporting Secretary Clinton,” Mr. Sanders said on Sunday, explaining why he is getting no endorsements from Democratic leaders.

Ms. Clinton’s statements and interviews through last week betrayed her confusion about what she wants to be seen as – the change or the seasoned. Not only that it is not easy for her to shake off the establishment tag, Ms. Clinton would also be worried about the desirability of that approach. Because she has a quality that others in the race do not have – experience. Asked on Sunday whether she considered her long resume a burden now, she shot back: “It matters when you are choosing a commander-in-chief.”

Her speeches ‘dear’ for corporates

But the way she has literally cashed in on her experience, by doing paid speeches, continues to haunt her. She charged up to $2,25,000 for a single speech – that is more than four times the U.S median family income – from corporates.

According to a New York Times report, she and her husband Bill Clinton together received $125 million as speaking fees since 2001. Why would companies pay so much money for a speech? “Because American businesses wanted to known about a complicated world from a former Secretary of State,” she said on Sunday, adding that it never stopped her from supporting policies that reined in big businesses.

Trump: Cruz disliked by all

If Ms. Clinton is trying to sound sufficiently anti-establishment, on the other side of the fence, Mr. Trump is trying to play down that image a bit, now that his lead appears unassailable. He has turned around and accused his closest rival Mr. Cruz of being incapable of finding common ground with others and get things moving.

“We have to get things done, you know,” Mr. Trump said declaring his willingness to cut deals with opponents if elected President. “He is too strident. He is not liked by anybody,” he said of Mr. Cruz.

‘Trump a donor for Clinton Foundation’

Mr. Cruz now accuses of Mr. Trump of being the establishment. “Trump won’t change the system. He’s what is wrong with the system,” Mr Cruz’s latest ad declares. Among the proof that Mr. Cruz is touting around is Mr. Trump’s past as a political donor, which includes a contribution of $ 100000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Ms. Clinton has the tough task of being the change and continuity at the same time. A flurry of commentaries that compare the current situation with the 2008 Democratic race in which Barack Obama upended her plans with the ‘change we can believe in’ campaign is hardly comforting her. Then too, she had more endorsements than Mr. Obama, to begin with. The question that American commentators are increasingly asking is — could Mr. Sanders be the new Obama?

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