2016 



Former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady
Born: October 26th, 1947  (age 69)


The sight of former president Bill Clinton wiping away tears of joy while standing silently behind his wife as she was making her victory speech in the 2000 Senate elections in New York may appear a little melodramatic for some. However, when one considers the sacrifices and extreme loyalty that Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton has shown to her husband over the previous 26 years, that gesture suddenly makes all the sense in world.

Secretary Clinton’s ascension to Senator, and thereafter, Secretary of State, is not something all that surprising for those that knew her, considering what a gifted child, student and political operative Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was.

Born in Cook County and raised in suburban Park Ridge just outside of Chicago, Secretary Clinton grew up in a loving middle class family. Her early years were shaped by her Goldwater-Republican Navy veteran and business owner father and his tremendous work ethic, balanced against her mother’s Democratic leanings and harsh childhood.

At an age where young girls and boys were still too preoccupied with watching cartoons on TV, young Hillary was already busy demonstrating her leadership abilities and initiative with backyard carnivals and cookie and food drives for charity. When others her age were engrossed with the challenges of school and growing up, young Hillary was busy with the post-election canvassing of Chicago’s south side for the Republican Party. When children tread lightly around their parents and elders, she was engaged in delightfully spirited political debates with her family during dinner.

Her star continues to shine brightly at Wellesley, where her commencement address drew a seven-minute long standing ovation, and at Yale, where she was paid to intern at Washington every summer. She was already an experienced Democratic aide before even graduating from Yale, and was headhunted to be part of the Watergate impeachment inquiry team counseling House Democrats months after finishing college.

She was never a radical, beatnik or hippie, but neither was she a middle-of-the-road moderate. She is, above all, an idealist – an intelligent, disciplined, driven and practical idealist. Despite her image of a strong and uncompromising woman, people who she’s worked with reveal her to be a polite, considerate, consultative, and perhaps most surprisingly, religious individual. The latter perhaps is due to the influence of her mother and grandmother, both strong-willed Methodist women. She is also an exceptional public speaker, and can speak for an extended period of time without notes – done without pauses and filler syllables.

Over the years, many negative epithets have been used by the press and political opponents to describe her. As many have learned however, pigeonholing or underestimating Secretary Clinton often comes at a great cost.

The key to defeating Secretary Clinton lies in winning over her core support base - women, baby boomers and minorities. Meanwhile, her weakest demographic is the millennials, and this is clearly reflected in her underwhelming support online. And yet, one gets the impression that her opponents simply do not get this very simple equation. Will this prove costly in the end?




Hillary Clinton, the First Lady of Arkansas, in a 1979 TV interview
 
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Declared 2016 



Wall Street finance expert and serial entrepreneur
Born: September 22nd, 1956  (age 60)


Scott Smith brings a history of financial work on Wall Street and experience running his own businesses to the presidential race. He has built an impressive number of companies from the ground up in a diverse range of industries, including agriculture, education, and technology, as well as his field of expertise, finance. He was extremely active in business during the 1990's, when he developed a model of conduit financing for real estate mortgages that was later adopted by many large corporations. Following this, he started a firm that worked with the Redevelopment Program of Nelson Mandela, helping to house around 11,000 families around Soweto. He also founded Kidz Magazine in 1995, a publication relying on user-generated content and which eventually saw consumption in 30 countries. Smith also enjoys art as a hobby, and is given to painting galaxies in his spare time.

With his finance and business background, Scott Smith's proposals focus almost exclusively on the economy, and many of his ideas are far-right to the point of dubiousness. He commits to completely eliminating income taxes, submitting that the economic position of income is miniscule in comparison to that of financial settlements, which he wishes to tax instead. By switching to this model, he optimistically proposes that it would be possible to balance the budget without reducing spending, while a private citizen earning $50,000 annually would pay only about $50 in tax.

Another of Smith's ambitious plans is to pay off the entire national debt within 5 years. He proposes to accomplish this through “coupon stripping”, or settling outstanding debt by issuing new money to cover the balances. While this would flood the economy with additional currency, Smith insists the results would not be inflationary, because the new money generates no interest while interest-bearing securities such as treasury bonds damage and devalue the dollar.

Smith's promises are extremely attractive, especially to people of a fiscally conservative bent. However, his nigh-outlandish economic claims risk inspiring incredulity in voters, which could cause people to simply not believe him despite his knowledge and experience on the subject. Ultimately, whether his proposals are rooted in solid economics or subscribe to the pie-in-the-sky level of dreaming of which many will undoubtedly accuse them, Scott Smith will sink or swim based on their perception, not their reality.

 
 
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