Hillary Clinton has formally acknowledged that she now has enough delegates in place to be chosen as the Democratic Party’s candidate for US President. Winning the vote isn’t always a guarantee of going on to be the official candidate, but the London Labour Party doesn’t have any jurisdiction over the US presidential contest and it seems unlikely that any untested dossier of allegations will stop Hillary’s triumph.
The Democratic Party’s chalking up the firsts this millennium – having provided the USA with its first black president (and, when he was re-elected, its second one too) and now putting up the first woman presidential candidate. Victory is within grasp – but the Republican’s Donald Trump will prove a daunting candidate to take on.
Hillary greeted the news of her triumph by thanking her supporters and underlining the historic achievement her selection is for women. President Obama rang to congratulate her. She described the Republic nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump as a “bully”: a good start, but she’ll need to do much more to convince electors not to vote for him, to counter the simplistic “yes, he’s a bully, but he’s our bully” mentality.
The surprising element of this year’s Democratic selection process has been the (relative) success of Bernie Sanders. No one would have thought an open left winger would have been so popular, but he came very close to doing a Corbyn. Sanders is still hopeful, talking of a campaign to persuade Hillary’s delegates to switch support to him at the party convention and setting up a meeting with Obama this week which will keep him in the headlines. It seems impossible that Sanders will be the candidate, but he is in a key position to influence the Democratic campaign. Hillary would be well advised to bring Sanders into the fold, even though it means moving to the left, in order to secure the votes of his supporters.
Now, even before the last loose ends have been tied up, Hillary Clinton has to work out how to win a US election. Standing against an opponent who will reduce every policy to its populist, absurd minimum, Hillary will find the main contest is a harder one to win than the selection was – and she’s been working on that one for 16 years.