Chelsea 2024: the next Democrat disaster?
Media commentators are speculating over whether Chelsea Clinton will one day run for president. Since her mother’s campaign tanked, she has increased her profile and written a book, which is being published soon. (Writing a book is a prerequisite for a presidential run these days.) She’s joked in the past about Chelsea 2024, but more recently she has denied having presidential ambitions — she is ‘not running’, she says.
Democrat voters should hope she keeps to her word. Short of a major PR turnaround, another Clinton on the Democrat ticket would not be very popular with voters.
To many voters in 2016, Hillary and her campaign team seemed to believe she was ordained to take the presidency. The Democrat Party’s head honchos clearly felt she was entitled to the party nomination at the very least. No serious opponents to her nomination dared to come forward, and when the least likely of real challengers did start to threaten her throne, the party establishment duly closed ranks.
As revealed in a new book about Clinton’s campaign, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, Clinton too felt entitled to the presidency. According to the authors, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, campaign staff were unable to come up with a clear reason why Clinton should be president and so they toyed with the line: ‘Because it’s her turn.’
Perhaps Chelsea would come up with a more compelling argument. But even if she did, a Chelsea campaign would only add to the idea that the presidency is something the Clintons believe they are entitled to — just ‘because’.
Her family problems aside, Chelsea would also be precisely the kind of candidate that, in our so-called populist era, many voters no longer want. She’s spent much of her adult life swanning around as part of an international charity (her parents’ now defunct Clinton Foundation). She’s the sort of figure who views politics as the stuff of bland international conferences, where globetrotting NGO bigwigs and philanthropic tech-barons exchange niceties.
In his book Listen, Liberal, disillusioned Democrat Thomas Frank recounts his own experience seeing Chelsea speak at a Clinton Foundation platitude-fest in 2015. Attended by some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people, its focus was to celebrate the success of women around the world. Fair enough. But, judging from Frank’s description, it was just another self-congratulatory event, of the kind so beloved by the international bourgeoisie these days:
‘Chelsea Clinton… announced herself “completely awed by the incredible swell of people and partners”… Those were just the first few minutes of the event. It kept on like that for hours. When someone’s “potential” was mentioned it was described as “boundless”. People’s “stories” were “compelling,” when they weren’t “inspiring or “incredible,” or “incredibly inspiring”.’
America doesn’t necessarily mind elites. But many despise the sort of aloof, jet-setting elites who, in Christopher Lasch’s words, ‘are home only in transit’. Fair or unfair, Chelsea is a member of this set. Let’s hope for the Democratic Party’s sake (though it’s debatable we should hope anything for their sake), that Chelsea means it when she says she’s ‘not running’.
Tom Bailey is a spiked columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @tBaileyBailey