While most, if not all, of the GOP candidates faced tough questions during the opening 2016 Republican primary debate, Hillary Clinton has yet to be asked the only question that matters.
The question I’m referring to might go something like this: “Mrs. Clinton, how would you unite our nation?”
If I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of interviewing Hillary Clinton, I would put this single question at the head of my list. Because, in the grand scheme of things, any follow-up question I may want to ask would hinge upon her response to this one. It is the quintessential question that we should ask all of our presidential candidates.
It is the same question that was asked in 2007 of then-Illinois senator, now President of the United States, Barack Obama.
FLASHBACK: August 14, 2007 – Divided Nation
Nearly eight years ago, entrenched in an all-out war for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination with Hillary Clinton, Obama offered a surprising statement concerning Clinton’s inability to unify the country.
“I think it is fair to say that I believe I can bring the country together more effectively than she can,” Obama said.
He would go on to add that was “not entirely a problem of her making.” Nonetheless, Hillary had a few proverbial skeletons in her closet that made her a divisive figure in many voters’ minds.
“History exists, and so, yes, I believe I can bring the country together in a way she cannot do,” Obama continued. “If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be running.”
There’s only one problem: Obama failed to unite the nation.
Sixty-seven percent of likely U.S. voters say America is a more divided nation than it was four years ago, a Rasmussen Reports poll found in 2014. The same poll found that 35 percent place the blame at President Obama’s feet, while 23 percent say that both Republicans in Congress and President Obama are equally to blame.
Once heralded as the bona fide champion of hope and change, Barack Obama failed to deliver what many Americans imagined only he could. Unity.
This is not a personal attack on President Barack Obama. My personal beliefs do not perfectly align with his; however, it’s perfectly acceptable for citizens to criticize their elected officials for failures and shortcomings. The media does it all of the time.
My concern is that if Obama failed to unite the nation, and we take him at his word that he adamantly believed in 2007 he could do a better job than Mrs. Clinton, is it reasonable to assume that she would also likely fail?
FLASHBACK: March 18, 2008 – “A More Perfect Union”
In 2008, Obama made one of his most memorable pre-election speeches at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA. He titled his speech “A More Perfect Union” and in it he addressed the racial divide that still existed in America. His story of being the “son of a black man in Kenya,” and married to a “black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners” captivated the attention of his audience. And he admitted at the time that his story did not make him the “most conventional candidate.”
“But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one,” Obama said.
He would go on to acknowledge that during the first year of his presidential campaign, he saw how ready Americans were for this “message of unity.”
Hillary Clinton, who also happened to be campaigning in Philadelphia at the time, offered her thoughts on the speech soon after it was given.
“Issues of race and gender in America have been complicated throughout our history, and they are complicated in this primary campaign,” Clinton said. “There have been detours and pitfalls along the way, but we should remember that this is a historic moment for the Democratic Party and for our country.”
What Obama did not realize at the time was that Americans were actively investing their faith in him to deliver on his promise of hope and unity. His unifying message was a key factor in their decision to vote for him; yet, here we are seven years later still searching for Obama’s promised unity.
In Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech, he addressed the racial problems in America and how our nation could heal itself. Interestingly enough, in her response to Obama’s speech, Hillary did not espouse any ways in which our nation could reunite from these issues. Instead, she shined light on the past fallacies of our nation, contrasting that with the promising future under a Democratic president. At the time, Hillary did not appear to have a solution to the racial divide within our country – at least not one worth sharing.
Eight ears later, in a speech in San Francisco, days after the mass shooting in Charleston, S.C., Hillary spoke on the issue of racism in America.
“It’s tempting to dismiss a tragedy like this as an isolated incident, to believe that in today’s America bigotry is largely behind us, that institutionalized racism no longer exists,” Clinton said. “But despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished.”
While the country is in a different place than it was eight years ago, it strikes me as ironic that Mrs. Clinton believes she can set the example of how Americans can overcome racism, while her predecessor, President Obama – the first African-American to be elected as president in the 240 years of our nation’s existence – could not.
In 2013, Myra Adams, contributor to The Daily Beast, wrote an extensive 16-point analysis of why Hillary Clinton will win the presidential election in 2016. In her article, Adams declares that Hillary Clinton has already won the election (barring any unforeseen calamity) and we all might as well just sit back and accept it. Adams makes some interesting arguments worth considering, however, it is the fourteenth reason on her list that really caught my attention.
#14. Hillary Will Make the Case That She Is the Only Leader Who Can Bring Us Together
“As the potential first woman president and commander in chief, Hillary must prove that she has the capacity for strong leadership and is not afraid to compromise with Republicans in order to solve the problems confronting this nation. And with friends throughout the media singing her praises, this task should be a no-brainer—even with the Benghazi clip of “What difference does it make?” being played nonstop by Republicans. But the irony here is that by offering herself up as the strong leader that America desperately needs (like she did so well in 2008), she draws an obvious negative comparison with our current leader, who is sadly lacking in this skill set and whose blessings she wants out on the campaign trail. My guess is the media will gloss over Obama’s lack of leadership while bolstering Hillary’s and they will both get what they want: Obama, a historic legacy and Hillary his office. Because with the media on your side, everything is possible!”
Ms. Adams is right on the money. Hillary will soon begin to look for an endorsement from President Obama, but if Obama’s recent remarks are any indication, it won’t be coming any time soon.
Hillary has a tough decision to make. Become the undisputed successor to Obama’s throne, at the expense of alienating Americans who feel like Obama has created wedges between blacks and whites since entering office, or run on her own merits and risk imploding from her own sordid past. Mrs. Clinton will be banking on the fact that many of her constituents are perhaps ill-informed and that her mantra of becoming the “first female president” will secure her rite of passage from Mrs. Hillary Clinton to President Hillary Clinton.
My warning to those who would vote for Hillary based on her gender, husband or ideology, is simple. If you believe Hillary Clinton can unite America, think again. Hillary Clinton as president would widen the rifts that already exist between us. Her message may sound promising to many, but so did Obama’s message eight years ago. A vote for Hillary is a vote for a third term of the Obama administration. We need someone with a fresh, conservative approach to govern our country. Someone that can put the “United” back in the United States of America.
Suffice it to say, that someone is not Hillary Clinton.