This week the Democrats running for President of the United States finally have their first debate. I say finally, because the Republicans have already had two debates, had two candidates drop out of the race and Donald Trump has been in the lead for what seems like two hundred years. But this time it’s about the Democrats, and what’s the story there?
On the Democratic side the drama has mostly been around Hillary Clinton. She’s in a similar position to where she was in 2008, when she seemed to be cruising towards presidency, until some dude named Obama stole the show. Now she’s back, and this time she really wants it. Really truly. It’s her TURN. Her TIME. She hasn’t put up with all this crap from the media, from a vast right wing conspiracy, and from her own feckless husband to be DENIED her destiny again. Unfortunately, there are some things that do, once again, stand in her way.
Hillary’s first obstacle is gal named Hillary. We’ll come back to her in a bit.
The second obstacle is a guy named Bernie Sanders. He’s a Senator from the State of Vermont, who until about three months ago no one had ever hear of. Either the man or the state. If you google Vermont, the main suggested subject is ‘maple syrup.’ Which is the sticky stuff that comes from old trees. If you google Bernie Sanders the suggested topic is 'Looks like an old tree.'
Sanders has become a force though; he's exciting people, capturing that hope and change buzz. It is beginning to look like Hillary might get Baracked again.
However, for a number of reasons Bernie Sanders is not Barack Obama. They definitely would not be put into the same line-up during a criminal investigation. Whilst Obama has been accused of many things, such as being a Islamic terrorist, he’s never been accused of being a 74 year old white man from Brooklyn. Obama has been accused of being a socialist, something that Bernie Sanders actually is.
Traditionally, calling yourself a socialist in America has been about as popular as calling yourself an Islamic terrorist. Many of the Republicans running for president frequently claim they are the same thing.
But Bernie has gotten further than any socialist. He’s getting thousands of people at his rallies, he is connecting with people in ways that Clinton only dreams of and he's super hot (I’ve made up one of those). This presidential cycle she isn’t getting Baracked, she’s getting Berned.
From a UK perspective getting Berned is quite similar to getting Corbyn’ed. Like Jeremy, not only does Bernie fire up the more liberal side of the liberal party, he seems like a non-political politician and Jeremy’s super hot (I’ve made up one of those). They both speak from the heart, and break from the pre-packaged politicians that have destroyed most people’s interest in politics.
As much fun as Bernie and his supporters are having at the moment, I don’t think the broader Democratic party has lost their sense of electability, unlike Labour, and they will eventually look towards a more centrist candidate. And Hillary will be there. Waiting. Just like she’s been all this time.
When that moment comes she will finally face and embrace the albatross which is around her neck and actually every other part of her body. Her main problem. Being Hillary.
Being Hillary Clinton means traveling with a lot of baggage. Old tattered luggage that contains bad land deals and a certain blue dress. She also has some new pieces as well, this set comes with her own private email server and matching Benghazi body bags. She has to pay extra to get on most campaign flights.
Even if she manages to check all her luggage Hillary Clinton has the additional burden of proving she is an Actual Human Being. Fairly or not she comes across as an overprotective, secretive, control freak. And in a constant media bubble perception matters. In polls people do see her as experienced, intelligent and super hot (I think she is) but not truthful or relatable.
She can do it. Twice in the 2008 campaign she spoke from the heart, but one of those times was her concession speech when she talked about breaking the ultimate glass ceiling in America. Timing wise, waiting until you've lost is not the best time to make yourself look like a winner.
Ultimately, Americans vote with heart over mind. And while Bernie captures a sense of the revolutionary - what Americans crave and vote for is authenticity. If Hillary can channel that, that glass ceiling won't stop her this time.
Erich McElroy will be up all night watching the debate and live tweeting it here @erichmcelroy
You can see Erich next week at the Museum of Comedy doing his show ‘Erich McElroy’s Imperfect Guide to Picking the Perfect President’ 19th & 20th October.