1/4/17 My interview with Metro World News on the Obama legacy:

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  1. mcclelef says:

    6/8/16 – My online interview with Metro World News on the 2016 US presidential campaign – FMcC

    Q: Is it a historical victory for Clinton? Why yes/no?

    As Secretary Clinton said last night, the US has reached a milestone. Over 225 years since the founding, 168 years since the Seneca Falls declaration for women’s equality, and nearly 100 years after women won the right to vote, a major political party is about to nominate a woman for president of the United States. Though some might argue that Obama’s election had greater symbolic importance, given the legacy of slavery, the election of Hillary Clinton would have no less significance. Given that strong female political leaders such as Thatcher in the UK and Merkel in Germany have emerged elsewhere, the US would be catching up to the rest of the world.

    Q: Why would a woman-president be a huge deal?

    In one sense, having a female president would not make much difference. The climate in Washington DC is dominated by intense partisanship and that will continue regardless of who is president. On the other hand, the first woman president will serve as a role model to one-half of the US population. Furthermore, studies show that when more women reach higher office, the policy agenda shifts more toward issues surrounding social welfare and families. Finally, the next president will have the opportunity to shift the balance of power on the US Supreme Court, and if that president is a woman, legal policy could change toward policies affecting women such as reproductive freedom.

    Q: Why Sanders is refusing to quit?

    Simply speaking on a human level, it is hard for any candidate to admit defeat after fighting for over a year, winning the votes of millions of supporters, and profoundly influencing the direction of a political party. Beyond that, the Sanders candidacy has transformed from a campaign for a party nomination to a social and political movement. He has the opportunity to influence politics and government during and after the presidential election, and he wants to maximize his leverage. He wants concessions from Clinton on the Democratic party platform, reforms in the party nomination process, and even on the vice-presidential selection. It’s up to the Clinton campaign to respond positively to Sanders’ demands if they want his enthusiastic support and that of his liberal, predominantly young coalition.

    Q: How has Sanders affected the presidential race? Who will his supporters vote for?

    Pressure from Sanders has caused Clinton to move to the left on the minimum wage, make Obamacare a vehicle for universal access to health care, regulate Wall Street and big banks more rigorously, and be more skeptical of free trade agreements. His younger supporters are concerned about jobs, rising college costs, and spiraling student debt, and Clinton will have to respond more forcefully to their issues. In the end I think the vast majority of Sanders supporters will support Clinton, if for no other reason than to stop Donald Trump. His nativist (some would say racist and sexist) agenda goes in the opposite direction of the socially liberal positions of both Clinton and Sanders voters.

    Q: What an Obama endorsement will mean for Clinton? How much of a boost will it give his former secretary of state?

    It would help unify the Democratic Party, placing immense pressure on Sanders to drop out and endorse Clinton. She would have the backing of one of the two most talented campaigners and fund-raisers in modern political history (the other is her husband). Obama will help activate the coalition that elected him twice, helping Clinton especially with minorities and young people. And, through his actions as president on such issues as climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, and income inequality, he will help her set the agenda for the next four years. Ultimately, it will be Obama’s popularity that will shape Clinton’s chances – if his approval rating goes above 50%, it means people are more inclined to support a third straight term of a Democratic president.

    Q: What weaknesses does Clinton’s campaign have?

    First of all, there is a general tendency for the American electorate to seek a change from the party that has controlled the White House for two terms. She has to present herself as a change candidate while at the same time promise to build on the Obama legacy, That is very hard to do. Furthermore, there is the possibility, albeit unlikely, that Donald Trump is going to transform himself into a disciplined, non-threatening, more formidable candidate. That means that Clinton will have to provide reasons why voters should vote for her, as opposed to voting against Trump. Secondly, she is at the mercy of events and trends. If the economy goes into a downturn or a terrorist attack happens, voters are likely to blame the incumbent party. She is personally vulnerable to negative findings from the investigations into her email accounts. Third, she is not the strongest campaigner, though her recent speeches questioning the fitness of Trump to serve as commander-in-chief show she is improving. The forthcoming presidential debates with Trump will be the most-watched events in television history, perhaps surpassing Super Bowl ratings, and she must perform well.

    Q: What to expect next from the U.S. presidential race?

    On the Democratic side, the question will be on what terms can Sanders be induced to throw his wholehearted support to Clinton? For the Republicans, the issues are whether Trump can discipline himself to avoid damaging statements, construct a strong national campaign organization, and shift the focus to Clinton. Both campaigns will attempt to build party unity, aiming toward successful national party conventions in late July. Also, attention will turn to whom Clinton and Trump will choose as their vice-presidential running mates, and whether the choices will provide any political help to the respective tickets.

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