President-Elect Hillary Clinton: You’ll Soon Get Used to Saying It

President-Elect Hillary Clinton: You’ll Soon Get Used to Saying it

Back in the summer and fall of 1992, my first wife. Cathay Gleeson, and I worked very hard for the election of Bill Clinton. Cathay was a two-decade active union member of the CWA (Communication Workers of America) through her job as line maintenance specialist for GTE (which is now known as Verizon), and I was a typesetter at a major weekly newspaper for the music industry. I distinctly remember the moment when we began to smell victory: Bill Clinton scheduled a rally in Orange County in the campaign’s closing weeks, and that was the crucial hint about how the election would turn out. Nobody who is worried about winning an election wastes time in the opponent’s heartland.

Labor Day is the traditional start of the final sprint to Election Day, but Clinton had not repeated Michael Dukakis’s mistake, in 1988, of believing he could coast on favorable poll numbers and kick back and relax after the Democratic convention. Rather, Clinton had hit the road with VP-nominee Al Gore the morning after the convention, and they were going full speed by Labor Day. The sign that things were going well is that they did not merely hold an event in Los Angeles, but took the fight directly to the ideological reservoir of the GOP in California. I remember that Cathay and I did not, in fact, get into the standing-room only rally, and that after waiting for a couple of hours, we left the parking lot somewhat disappointed not to have seen Clinton. We heard later that he had come out and briefly addressed those who couldn’t get in.

Despite the enormous proclivity that Donald Trump has for self-inflicted dismemberment, it is too early to get over-confident about the upcoming election; three months in politics is the academic equivalent of two full semesters, and any dean of a college or chair of a department knows how quickly things can change from September to June. Nevertheless the news that Meg Whitman has decided to support Hillary Clinton and to help raise money for her has to be regarded as at least the equivalent of Bill Clinton holding a rally in Orange County. The words “President-Elect Hillary Clinton” already simmer with a tantalizing degree of palpable anticipation.

For Democratic liberals, however, Ms. Whitman’s declaration of support is an additional dollop of sobering news. How likely is Hillary Clinton to be at all liberal in her economic policies if she has actively sought the support of a Republican such as Ms. Whitman? The supporters of Bernie Sanders had better get used to Clinton’s policy choices, though. If Bill Clinton was the best Republican president of the 20th century (as some in the Democratic party labeled him by the end of his second term), then Hillary Clinton seems destined to secure her husband’s legacy even more so than Barack Obama’s.