If we look at how this election has played out, despite how you would imagine Hillary Clinton would want to run – putting policy centre and personality secondary – it’s very difficult to pinpoint a specific policy strategy that she would want to prioritise, and be remembered for.
She has made a lot of her past commitment to women’s rights and children’s rights, but when we look at the platform she’s running on, there’s no signature piece of legislation which would determine a successful administration. You counter that for example with Obama’s pre-election talk of getting healthcare through – what becomes known as Obamacare. Clinton would no doubt say ‘Well, I championed that in the 90s, when it was known as Hillarycare’. But it’s still not identifiable as her policy.
I think what she will do is broadly try to champion the rights of women and children with regard to things like equal pay, raising the minimum wage – but these, the latter in particular, are not things which have been identified with her, more with Bernie Sanders.
It’s hard to see what she would do differently to Barack Obama. Clearly she has been pulled to the left by Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail, so she’s now talking about a $15 minimum wage, which is certainly beyond where she was before. It must be pointed out, though, that it’s very difficult for an American president to get much done domestically, in the current era. The constitution gives the president far greater leeway and flexibility in terms of foreign policy – which is why so little has happened domestically in the US over the last couple of years. She might be a little more draconian than Obama on rights at home – there’s that line, which is classic Clinton, about offering more to all, but asking for more responsibility from all.
Defeating Sanders in the primaries has pulled some of Clinton's policies to the left
She has a line of thinking which we in Britain would recognise as being along the lines of Tony Blair. If she wins, her presidency will obviously be historic because of her gender, but politically, I see her as representing the end of a cycle, not the beginning of one. She’s not going to kick-start any new political movement. She represents the end of the Third Way idea of politics which was so identified with her husband in the United States, and Tony Blair in the UK. So we might see a more robust idea of America on the world stage, a greater willingness to use American power as and when necessary – as opposed to Obama, who has been widely criticised for leading from behind.
On foreign policy, what she is going to have to address straight out of the box is Syria, and what the US role is going to be there. And that brings in Russia and other nations in the region, and Islamic State. That will dominate her foreign policy. Her instinct as Secretary of State – to try to ‘reset’ the relationship with Russia – was right, but with Putin you have someone who is clearly thinking along a very realpolitik line than Washington has been taking of late. Clinton is more akin to that mindset, but certainly it’s very difficult to see how a warm relationship is going to develop between the Kremlin and the White House.