NEW CASTLE, Pa., April 19, 2015 — A growing number of Republicans are entering the race for the 2016 presidential election, yet Hillary Clinton is the candidate defining the issues of for both Democrats and Republicans.
The iconic figure has so much influence and such standing in her party that her decision to run on economic issues has already forced Democrats and Republicans alike to either adopt or discredit her positions. Whether or not Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 Democratic nomination, her stands on issues are setting the debate for the general election.
In many respects, the economy is the hardest topic for the political world to face. The U.S. economy has been struggling since the 2008-2009 Great Recession started. Voters are focused on issues such as job creation and decreasing income inequality. As few policy solutions on the table seem to be working, debating economic policies, which largely depend on tried and untrue deals, force to light the weaknesses of solutions candidates embrace while leaving politicians open to scrutiny that they cannot easily defend against.
The highly polarized nature of our political system will pressure Democrats to over-rely on nontraditional economic mainstays: increased spending on social programs, increased regulation and social welfare. Unfortunately, it appears Democrats are already on track to do just that when it come to raising taxes, the minimum wage and education funding.
As the growing national debt, sluggish economy and government dysfunction/intrusiveness weigh heavily on the minds of voters, Democrats need to stay in the middle and promote balanced, comprehensive solutions to America’s economic problems.
Voters will not support more government spending, taxes or regulation unless they know it will produce results.
Education, for example, is important, but job seekers are not job creators, even if they are educated. It is important to recognize that many Americans, including educated Americans, continue to struggle to find work and increase their earnings.
Although education gives the individual the best chance at a better life, it is not a guarantee. Americans are growing disenchanted with the education solution.
It will also be a temptation for Democrats to over focus on income inequality for women and minorities. Hillary and her Democratic brethren are already trying to frame themselves as the champions of the 99 percenters. While this may appeal to segments of the population, it ignores the much broader issues that come with income equality, thereby aliening non-minority voters who suffer under the extreme economic disparity that exists in this country today.
Whether making minimum wage or earning a middle-class income, it is difficult for non-minority men to take criticism from someone like Hillary Clinton is a multi-millionaire.
Income inequality is not about gender or race for the bulk of Americans. It is about attaining a comfortable lifestyle instead of struggling to pay the bills. It is about improved access to greater economic opportunities for all.
Democrats need to demonstrate how they can build a strong, stable economy stable that provide jobs security for the middle class and better jobs for the poor.