Before We Can Elect Hillary Clinton, She Needs To Earn Our Vote

By Jill H

Not every Democrat is a Hillary Clinton fan, the shining of star of the Democratic Party for the 2016 Presidential elections. But if you don't want a Republican in office, what choice do you have but to back her?

Clinton certainly seems poised to take a stand on many issues affecting everyday Americans.

She's focused on improving the state of the American middle class and campaign finance reform, to name a few of her key interests.

She's spent a lot of time talking about economic inequality and injustices among the rich. She's been lauded for paying men and women on her staff the exact same salaries.

Next month, Clinton plans to plunge headfirst into national security issues, potentially taking a "tough line" on Russia.

Unfortunately, she's also faced some challenges in her recent political career. Because Clinton is the only Democrat currently in the running, she may not field questions on these challenges until well after the primaries.

Questions about her use of personal email as a secretary of state -- questions she initially failed to respond to -- criticisms on her response to the embassy attacks in Benghazi during her tenure as Secretary of State, and rumors of her strong ties to Wall Street will all be waiting for the first Republican who comes to call.

More importantly, Hillary hasn't said all that much, just yet, about anything.

We know she wants to take on the economy, address income inequalities; we know how she feels about foreign policy issues, like negotiating with Iran and releasing Guantanamo Bay prisoners, but we don't know enough to back this candidate without viable opposition.

In order for the American public to choose Hillary, Hillary needs to be challenged first by someone else. In the words of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio:

We need to see the substance.

Until then, it's hard to validate the fact Hillary "deserves" the presidency when there's virtually no opposition in her bid for the nomination.

This isn't to say she doesn't deserve it, but it is important to note she -- and every other candidate -- should have to earn it.

There are some viable candidates out there who've yet to announce plans to run -- they just haven't gotten the attention they deserve.

Hillary's quiet competition

Martin O'Malley, former Maryland Governor: On a recent episode of "Saturday Night Live," actress Kate McKinnon (as Hillary), laughed while remarking she had opponents in her bid for the presidency, saying the former Maryland Governor sounded like a "Simpsons character." The joke was all in good fun, but it reflected the landscape of the Democratic Party nominations at the moment.

Here's the thing: O'Malley would be a great candidate to run against Hillary. He's someone who should be taken more seriously.

He's well-versed in debating other candidates, and bringing up important issues during elections.

The former governor was elected to serve two terms, and prior to that, he served two terms as Mayor of Baltimore City.

He raised taxes in Maryland, much to the chagrin of many staunch Democrats, and also served as an advocate.

O'Malley saw to it gay couples would be allowed legal right to marry in Maryland; he gave pay increases to individuals receiving minimum wage; he spent record amounts on education within the state.

He pleased Baltimoreans enough during his tenure as mayor, they supported his bid for governor of the state.

Jim Webb, former Virginia Senator: Webb is less prominent than O'Malley and because of that, he may prove a much less viable Democratic candidate.

He's been in hot water before, considering his views against racial diversity programs and his blatant favoritism of the white, working-class male.

Webb notably stated many blue-collar white men come from "inclusive cultures, they are dignity-driven cultures, honor-driven cultures."

He's a Democrat with a very unusual focus on the white middle class, and it probably won't have broad appeal nationwide.

However, he's a counter-point to Clinton and O'Malley, presiding over a city with a very large African American population.

At the very least, he brings something different to the table, and as such, he's someone who could push Hillary, and even O'Malley, to fervently defend their views.

If anything, Webb would help voters learn more about the two most credible frontrunners.

Lincoln Chafee, former Governor of Rhode Island: The only other candidate who seems likely to turn up for a 2016 run is is Lincoln Chafee, the former Governor of Rhode Island.

He presents himself as the kind of politician willing to stand up for his beliefs. He was the only Republican senator to oppose Bush's push for war in Iraq.

Yep, you read that right right: Chafee was a Republican at the time of his dissent. But he's now a successful Democrat.

As governor, Chafee saw to it same-sex marriages could take place in Rhode Island. He also froze rising tuition at public universities in Rhode Island, and worked hard to keep his administration scandal-free.

Chafee could present a great challenge to Hillary's foreign policy; he's already called her "too Bush-like" in her approach to international issues.

We need a candidate who's earned the favor of the republic.

If Hillary is the Democratic candidate -- and even if she isn't -- the American people have more than earned the right to be wooed by the presidential hopefuls.

It would be nice to see them debate the issues; it'd be nice to see people challenging each other, forcing one another to think on their feet and respond truthfully to pointed questions.

And the more candidates in the running, the more the American public has the opportunity to make the best, most-educated decision.

It's not that Hillary isn't the best choice for America (she very well may be), but we'd be remiss to ignore the fact there are great alternatives to Hillary.

O'Malley made major strides as governor of Maryland, and Chafee is a well-respected politician who could offer a refreshing perspective on a gamut of liberal issues.

We can only hope we get to hear what these individuals have to say, because everyone loses when there's only one frontrunner in a race -- including the frontrunner, herself.

Citations: Hillary Clinton Comes Out Swinging at CEOs and Hedge Fund Managers (Bloomberg), Hillary Clinton says she would support a constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform (The Washington Post), Kirsten Powers Hillary Clinton owns big security edge (USA Today), Where Does Hillary Clinton Stand on China and Russia (The Atlantic), Congress first asked Hillary Clinton about personal email use in 2012 letter shows (Fox News), Clinton to face tough questions on Benghazi email scandal with 2016 bid (The Washington Times), Hillary Clinton defends Barack Obama (Politico), Hillary Clinton defends deal to release Bergdahl (The Washington Post), De Blasio defends withholding Hillary Clinton endorsement (Newsday), SNL Pokes Fun of Former Md Gov OMalley in Clinton Announcement Sketch (CBS), In defining OMalleys legacy liberal successes compete with tax hikes (The Washington Post), Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege (The Wall Street Journal), Lincoln Chafee Legacy Not Liability (The Huffington Post), Brown Students for Chafee Lincoln Chafee Conscience First (The Brown Daily Herald), Chafee Clinton is too Bush like on foreign policy (CNN)