Why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t run for president in 2016

May 27, 2014

In response to my piece about how Hillary Clinton's "Author's Note" seemed to signal strongly she would run for president in 2016, a Democratic consultant emailed me to make a provocative argument: That Clinton would be better off not running at all.  I asked him if he could expand his email into a blog post.  (He is not involved with anyone even considering the race.) He obliged. Below is his case, edited only for grammar. The only concession was to keep his identity private so that he could make his argument without fear of retribution from Clintonworld.


Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles as he addresses the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum closing plenary in Washington, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The reasons for Hillary Clinton to run are obvious: she’d be in the most powerful position in the world and would have the ability to impact public policy in a way no other position allows.  And of course she’d be making history as the first woman President.

But it’s not the right move for her.

Presidential campaigns are long and brutal, as Mrs. Clinton knows all too well.  It’s not like they’ve gotten any easier since she ran the last time.  That’s the first reason not to run: the strain the campaign would put on her, her friends, and her family.  And, of course, there’s always the chance she could lose the race (not the nomination; the general election).  That’s the 2nd reason not to run.  And even if she wins, she’d inherit an economy that has yet to recover and is still lagging.  That’s the third reason not to run.  And she’d inherit one other really bad thing: a dysfunctional Congress, one in which the Republicans seem intent on blocking anything a Democratic president is for.  That’s the 4th reason.

Let’s review: it’s brutally hard, she could lose, and she’d inherit a mess.

So what happens if she doesn’t run?   Hillary Clinton is already an iconic figure; one that is beloved by many.  Every time she opens her mouth people listen.  True, some of that is because they think she might be President, but a lot of it is because she’s Hillary Clinton.  What she says matters.  That will always be the case, even if she doesn’t run.  Mrs. Clinton could decide to continue to speak out on issues she cares about, which she no doubt would do.  She would be in high demand, just about everywhere: on the campaign trail for Democrats, in corporate board rooms, on the lucrative lecture circuit, and as a commencement speaker.

Let’s review: Mrs. Clinton could continue to influence public policy, make a lot of money, and have a life. She could leave the stage at a time of her own choosing, on her own terms, with her reputation intact.

Some say she should run because if she doesn’t her career won’t be complete.  Others say she needs to make up for 2008.  Nonsense.  Liberated by his loss in 1980, Ted Kennedy went on to become one of the greatest senators of our time, maybe the greatest.  So what if Mrs. Clinton wouldn’t be holding office?  She doesn’t need to in order to impact the public discourse.  She’s Hillary Clinton.  Imagine what her endorsement would mean; imagine how it would be sought, for years to come.

When you factor in all the various considerations, running for President doesn’t seem to be the smart, shrewd move. And in the end, even her detractors acknowledge that Hillary Clinton is one smart, shrewd individual.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Philip Bump · May 27, 2014