How her brand can serve her best, and why the presidency is a bad idea
Just because someone is popular, doesn’t mean they should be President. In 2008, many attributed this notion to presidential candidate Barack Obama – arguing that he was unprepared for the Oval Office, and that Hillary Clinton was a more capable candidate. As we all know, Senator Obama went on to become President Obama, and likewise Senator Clinton became Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This same argument against popularity as a qualifier for the Presidency applies to Secretary Clinton today. Yes, she is enjoying superlative popularity ratings. Yes, she is managing our foreign relations almost flawlessly. She is a leader, a protector, a unifier, an inspiration, and her brand has never been so valuable. So why on Earth would she ever want to throw herself down in to the tumultuous, back stabbing, blame throwing, despicable game of presidential politics?
For starters, if Ms. Clinton did run in 2016, her brand image would be tarnished and her brand value would plummet. She would lose the unified support from the Democratic Party that she enjoys as Secretary of State during the primary season as her party breaks off in to cliques and brings out their claws in support of potential candidates. If she made it past the primaries, her reputation would then be beaten, tattered, and dragged through the mud by the GOP war machine. No matter how well Ms. Clinton has done in her role as Secretary of State, every step that could be taken to damage her brand would eventually be taken.
Ms. Clinton has done a magnificent job at shedding the shadow her husband had cast over her. His voice is no longer louder than hers. Her marriage is no longer an issue of national attention as it was during her years as First Lady, a New York Senator, and a Presidential hopeful. Even if she spent the next four years working with her husband on philanthropic efforts, likely continuing to strengthen her brand, all of that will have been in vain if she throws it away chasing the Presidency. Her popularity will not shield her from the unfortunate side effects of politics.
Regardless of the damage her brand will suffer in another presidential campaign, Ms. Clinton’s motivations and ambitions are better applied outside of Washington. She is often described as a loyal public servant who would do anything she could to help her country. She has now become a loyal servant to not only the United States, but to the rest of the world. Her opportunities to make a difference are much greater outside of the confines of the Oval Office. She has a seemingly limitless opportunity to do almost anything she wants after her tenure as Secretary of State is over. She has more support from the international community and the people at home in the U.S. than she has ever had before. She has hundreds of millions of eyes on her – looking up to her as a catalyst of hope and change. Her opportunity to be remembered by history as one of the most beloved people of our time is literally within her grasp. All she has to do is take it.
In today’s world celebrity can be achieved with little effort. Too many seek influence, too many follow them, and too few truly deserve it. Those who have warranted their influence have the greatest opportunity to utilize it without the risk of their 15 minutes being over. Rightfully so, many of them do. In this new era, people are looking in every direction for inspiration, leadership, and innovation. We look to brands like Pepsi and Tom’s, celebrities like Bono and Lady Gaga, and NGO’s like Susan G. Komen and Charity Water to make a difference. Our trust in government has lowered as the effectiveness and cooperation of our elected officials has dwindled. In place of that we have found other ways to change the world for the better. The bond between Hollywood, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Madison Avenue, and Capitol Hill has never been stronger or more effective. The evidence is apparent. The Clinton Global Initiative, the Arab Spring, the Ad Council, and Live 8 are all examples of how this works in action. Hillary Clinton has a place in this new order of global impact. This is where the opportunity lies.
I would like to see Ms. Clinton prove that change can be made outside of government. I would like to see her create her help women and girls around the world as she’s said she plans to do. They desperately need a Hillary Clinton to help them. They need a Hillary Clinton to give them a voice in the international community. The most dangerous and volatile places in the world today are the places where women have little or no rights. They cannot vote; they do not have rights to their own bodies; they do not have hope for their own futures; and they are sold in to slavery, abused, and killed by their communities, their governments, and their families. They need Hillary Clinton more than the United States needs Hillary Clinton. She has one last opportunity to decide what her legacy will be. So please, ignore all the GOP speculation that she’s switching places with Biden – it’s just a tactic for the election season. Ignore the speculation that she’s going to run in 2016 – that’s just another GOP tactic to discredit Obama. Running for President just doesn’t make sense for Hillary Clinton. She’s better than that, and that’s the truth.
David Trahan is devout follower of politics and international relations as well as a branding consultant at Interbrand New York specializing in customer insights and digital. David was previously an ongoing contributor to Personal Branding Blog, and has also written for Media Post and AdAge.