Here we are, heading into the summer of 2014. In some ways it’s a good while until the 2016 presidential election – the midterms are still over six months away, and it’s over 32 months before Barack Obama’s successor takes office – but in another way it’s right around the corner. Obama seems like the lamest of lame ducks, with little of an agenda and little chance of getting anything passed that would require bipartisan support. As happens consistently with two-term presidents on the back nine of their tenures, we’re better off focusing on what can happen in 2017 than on being much concerned with governmental change before then.
Although few presidential hopefuls have declared their candidacy thus far, those who might officially decide to run are already, in effect, campaigning. One way of being noticed by the media is to give speeches and weigh in on political issues, which, for someone as driven as a potential president, need not be taken as a commitment to run for that office. Yet such public appearances give the pre-candidates opportunities for easy exposure and, even more importantly, a way to gauge national reactions to what they say.
In March, Hillary Clinton had such an engagement. On March 22nd, she opened a program on higher education at Arizona State University, speaking to an audience which included about 1,200 students. She let loose some rather stock things about education in general: vocational and technical jobs should be “respected,” community colleges should be supported, first jobs are important, young people can get various skills at workplaces, and so on.
What she didn’t say, though, was anything about how today’s graduates can get such jobs. Unemployment for those who got bachelor’s degrees in 2013 is 10.9%, and not only has that number been higher recently, it does not reflect the large numbers of graduates who aren’t actively looking. It also does not address underemployment, as working at low levels after completing school has become a cliché. So what ideas has she voiced on improving the jobs crisis?
To get a baseline on Clinton’s stated political positions, I found a compilation of them on Wikipedia. It covers what she has said over the past ten years or more, on economic policy, foreign policy, civil liberties and democracy, and social policy. The document gives her comments on everything from “free-market capitalism” (she’s for it, but doesn’t want it to “run roughshod over people’s lives”) to flag burning (she wants it illegal, but without a constitutional amendment). The listing of her stated views, not counting endnotes, ran to 13 pages. So what was in it about how to create jobs, or how to set up an environment in which more jobs would be created by others?
Nothing. Not a word.
Other possible nominees have had plenty to say on the subject. To name only one, Rand Paul, for all his faults, already has given us almost a book’s worth of employment views. It’s not enough for Clinton to say things, as she did in Tempe, such as “education is the key to unlocking opportunity,” when everyone aware of employment trends is questioning that or at least regretting its decreasing validity.
Sportsbook.com, a betting site which, being outside the US, allows wagering on presidential elections, has Clinton as the prohibitive plurality choice to be elected. The line on her is -175, meaning that you can put down $100 and receive $275 if she wins. If you like to make bets and think Hillary has at least a 37% chance of becoming our 45th Chief Executive, you should consider this one. The shortest odds elsewhere, on the Republicans Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, are each -1500, meaning if you see any as more likely than 15 to 1, you might take the site up on its offer.
However, a backlash on Clinton may be starting or even in place. An article in Slate, with a heavily Democratic readership, titled “7 reasons Hillary Clinton’s nomination is far from inevitable,” came out Tuesday. It stated in its New Liabilities section that “not enough jobs are being created even to keep up with population growth,” since voters may want change that she, as a 20-year high-level Washington veteran, will not be perceived as able to offer.
The backlash is a good thing. We may, in 2016, still face a choice between this well-established Democrat and a Republican striving to attract the center with new ideas. A vote for her may or may not be advisable. But now, one thing appears clear. Hillary Clinton does not seem likely to help the permanent jobs crisis.