Pop Quiz: What did each the following people promise to change, if elected:
- Barack Obama
- Bernie Sanders
- Donald Trump
- Hillary Clinton
It’s easy to answer the first three: Obama promised to give us national health care; Sanders wanted to get big business out of government and repeal Citizens United; Donald Trump wants to build a wall and keep Muslims from entering the country.
And Clinton wants to…well, she's going to…um…uh…
I know that Clinton went to see Hamilton, but she seemed to have missed a crucial plot point. When Hamilton was asked to throw his support behind either Thomas Jefferson or Aaron Burr, he chose Jefferson. His reason? “Jefferson has beliefs; Burr has none.”
Voters are lazy. We need a simple soundbite—a Tweetable cause we can get behind.
Now Clinton risks throwing away her shot for the same reason. We know what she’s against—Donald Trump. But what does she stand for? What does she promise to change? That message is just not getting out there.
In fact, Clinton has a fantastic platform. But voters can't get behind a "platform." Most of us are lazy. Voters need a simple soundbite, a Tweetable cause we can get behind. And we want someone who promises change—even those of us who elected Obama can agree that all’s not right with the world. Clinton might want to consider taking one of the following issues from her platform, and putting it front and center:
- Gun Control: People are passionate about this issue. They're tired of politicians not being able to succeed in trying to make change. It's a hot-button issue that could lead to less gun violence; fewer mass shootings; and in general, a safer United States.
- Women's Rights: Clinton takes a stand on numerous issues here, including reproductive rights, fighting violence against women, closing the pay gap, and paid leave. But that's a lot to Tweet. So perhaps she could also promise to re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). You do know that women are still not equal to men, according to the constitution, right? That’s right, Hamilfans: It’s time to include women in the sequel!
- Tax Reform: Clinton's platform on the economy has, as its first plank, the creation of a fair tax system, in which the rich pay their fair share. Here is another thing people get very excited about. And the more she explains how this sort of tax reform could solve all sorts of economic issues in the country, the more people will get behind it.
- Affordable childcare. Here's another item from her platform that could be her main "change" idea. Many other industrialized nations provide this. Clinton, as America’s first female nominee really could have owned this issue and run with it. Instead, Trump got out in front of her on it, and that’s a real missed opportunity. She should take it back.
- Save the earth! Her dedication to taking on the threat of Climate Change is detailed in her platform. It's another position that could become her big issue.
Unfortunately, even though Clinton has strong positions on each of the above issues, the main message that she's getting across is "Trump Sucks.” And while that’s true, it has resulted in a huge enthusiasm gap among voters between Clinton and Trump; people who vote for Trump really do want to see a wall built and Muslims banned from entering the country. They will go out to the polls and vote for Trump because they are excited about him.
She's a smart lady with a well-rounded host of ideas, and she may feel that just choosing one or two things is too simplistic.
On the other hand, many Democrats who say they are planning to vote for Clinton say they aren’t enthusiastic about the prospect. And without enthusiasm, many may not bother going to the polls. Or they’ll go out and vote for Gary Johnson, because marijuana, or Jill Stein, because green.
The clock is ticking and let's hope it's not too late for Clinton to become associated with a cause—something, anything—that people can cling to and get excited about. She's a smart lady with a well-rounded host of ideas, and she may feel that just choosing one or two things is too simplistic. She's right, of course. But being simplistic just might be what it takes to win this time around.