Primarily, because she’s smarter.
Whilst Bill was always a policy wonk – and a consummate speaker and all-round good bloke, of course – it was always Hilary who had the big smarts in his State and Federal administrations.
And her biggest smart is listening to good advice: a characteristic she has honed in recent years, and which has become more obvious as she’s got older.
If you’re interested in politics, whatever your shade of political opinion, I recommend you watch the video.
It will be criticised, of course. It will be called bland. It will be called too carefully crafted. It will be called slick.
All true. But that’s to miss the point.
What most politicians and commentators generally misunderstand is that to win a GENERAL election, as opposed to a by-election, special run off, or any other “smaller” event – even mid terms – one needs to build a broad base of support. That requires a coalition of voters, many of whom are nowadays more interested in a single issue than the broad gamut of policies.
Let me just say that again. People now tend to vote on one or two issues, not a broad brushtroke opinion of whether they support an entire platform, or even any particular party.
Thus UKIP, for example, in the UK – and many other parties in Europe but especially the National Front in France and the Northern League in Italy – leverage anxiety about over-weening central authority in the European Union and about immigration. They still talk about a heap of other issues, but frankly pretty much needn’t to justify their existence.
Their core base of support is pretty much ensured by those two focii.
Green parties worldwide leverage fears about global warming and environmental protection generally. Yes, they project a wide variety of other issues into the marketplace, (usually connected to social justice concerns that sit well with their mainly left-wing membership), but again, if they didn’t their raison d’etre would still be clear to a large enough number of voters to see them wield serious minority influence.
But when it comes to a major party, it’s no longer enough to be simplistically “On the side of Capital”, or “On the side of Labour” as it was for most of the 20th century.
If those observations seem somewhat contradictory, let us explain further.
After a century of combat, voters generally realise instinctively that “big” politics is now played mainly in the centre, with only degrees of difference or application separating historically opposed parties that are now not generally in disagreement about the broad thrust of “mixed economy politics”.
This is often most obviously expressed in terms that imply dis-satisfaction – “they’re all the same”, for example – but without any great or obvious desire to do anything about that observation at a broad election.
To the intense confusion or annoyance of those who represent more minority viewpoints, the vast mass of voters coalesce into the middle when push comes to shove.
Occasionally – very occasionally – major seismic shifts occur and one of the two major parties in any western-style democracy is replaced, but what then tends to happen is that the new participants start to look very like the organisation they replaced.
Yes, needless to say, there are legitimate squabbles about the size of deficits and the balance of the roles of government and private capital in funding the economy, but in most countries, the difference between left and right is now one of degree, rather than core principle.
And yes, there are “small government” libertarians seeking to outflank conservative parties on the right, and neo-Marxists still clinging to the fringes of the left.
But the days when there was a massive, enduring and quasi-violent divide between labour and capital have surely passed. Today, almost everyone is middle class. Even if they aren’t. Even the reining in of government spending during so-called austerity measures in Europe has not produced a genuine meltdown in public opinion by those affected. Annoyance? Yes. Big demonstrations? Yes.
But Paris in 1968? Britain in the winter of 1979? No.
Those to the far right and left like to pretend that the consensus is breaking down. In fact, it is more solid than ever.
In these days of the comfortable centre a winning strategy is to hold the centre and then judiciously add to your collection of centirst voters those “single issue” groupings that circle around it without a natural home – single issue groups that you can support, and lend a voice to, without betraying core principles too obviously.
Thus Obama won (twice, but especially the second time) by stitching together two groups that historically have not necessarily shared goals, to wit the African American urban constituency and southern Hispanics. In Obama’s case he didn’t even need to be particularly activist in building the coalition. The Republican failure to appeal to the more business-oriented Latino vote by failing to deal with the GOP’s own right-wing’s obsession with restricting Latino immigration (and not normalising residency status for those already int he country illegally) delivered them holus bolus into the Democrat camp in large numbers, thus delivering Obama a second term.
Back in the day, the activist Christian vote in America helped deliver Ronald Reagan big victories not because the whole of America was to be found in the Bible belt, but because they seemed generally wholesome and mostly inoffensive and thus people found it easy to vote for an essentially centrist politician in Reagan with conservative Christian overtones which didn’t really rock their boat. Snaring their political support was a masterstroke for Reagan’s campaign managers. By today, though, fundamentalist Christian activists often seem shrill, rather extreme and frequently to be drilling down to a bedrock of anti-knowledge. This delights their core audience, and attracts all manner of opportunist Republican candidates to their conferences and meetings, but their obvious extremism terrifies the soft centre.
The same is true of some other single issue groups on the right. The extreme small-government brigade frequently seem loopy even in a country where paying tax is begrudged more than most, and where central government is intrinsically very unpopular as a concept. Similarly, the anti-vaxxers and some parts (not all) of the pro-gun lobby seem so actively bizarre that they are, again, hugely popular with their very narrow constituencies, but a complete turn off for mainstream people.
Republican theorists frantically seek to build a winning coalition by yoiking together all these disparate groups, imagining that this is how you build a winning coalition, but all-the-while while bleeding common-or-garden Republicans into first the “Independent” camp and then, as the psychosis intensifies, into the “Well, I’m not really a Democrat, but I’m not going to vote for that lot” column, resulting in a boost to the Democrat vote or (more likely, and just as damagingly) widespread GOP abstentionism.
To win, Hillary has to appear intelligent – which she has no difficulty in doing at all – and to target enough single issue voters which are not likely to “spook the horses”. So now let’s look at that Hillary launch TVC again.
In the old days, in the ad business, we would have said “Ooops, your strategy is showing!” But most people will consume this very professional piece of propaganda without blinking.
Besides people who think Spring is a positive new start to the year – geddit? – these are the groups it targets:
Single parents – note the first woman says “My daughter” not “Our daughter”. Due to marital breakdown, single parents (with women disproportionately represented in caring for children) are a significant and growing demographic.
Returning to work mothers – a key constituency as many middle-class families require dual incomes to cope, and as women born in the feminist era prefer not to stay at home for 18 years to raise their kids.
Latin-speaking people who are – note – in BUSINESS for themselves.
African American expectant parents. Of course, Hillary and her team want all expectant parents to vote for her, but so much the better if she chummies up to African Americans at the same time, so crucial to Obama’s election. Don’t want any black middle class voters being siphoned off to the GOP … notice the people seen here are clearly middle class and relatively well off, not sitting on crumbling concrete steps in Detroit.
An Asian American woman … talking about graduating, of course. Because Asians are all about education, right?
Soon to be retired white couple – very naturally a part of the GOP’s constituency (often called, recently, the “Old White Party”) – if she could get some of those over too it would broaden her overall constituency considerably.
Pet lovers. Well come on. Pet lovers for Hillary.
People going back to work after the economic hardship of recent years. Hillary needs them to forget the bad times and become ironed-on blue collar workforce Democrats again, especially in southern states.
And notice two gay families – one male, one female. Gay marriage – homosexuality generally – is a “light the blue touchpaper and retire” issue for the extreme right, but middle America really couldn’t care less. They just see it as a fairness issue. Yesterday’s news.
What’s more, anywhere between 2% and 10% of the American population self-identify as gay. Many of them are “Dual Income No Kids” – a natural constituency for the GOP, if it were shorn of its religious extremists. So Hillary wants to send a message: you all need to be voting for me. And the gay vote alone could tip a close election one way or the other.
So in summary, Hillary wants the mainstream pro-Democrat vote (let’s call that 35% of working and middle class whites for argument’s sake) plus you: you Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanics (especially Spanish speakers), blue collar work returners, expectant parents, near-retirees, dog lovers, and gays. Oh, with a strong implication that she wants women, too, but not too overtly, because that will piss off the men.
That’s a majority, right there. Very smart piece of work. Told you.