Hillary Clinton autographing copies of her memoir at University Book Store in June.
  • Kelly O
  • Hillary Clinton autographing copies of her memoir at University Book Store in June.

Warren Buffett didn't get rich by taking chances. He got rich by using data to predict what would happen, and then acting intelligently on that data. Buffett isn't prone to making statements out of hand, so people paid attention when he said the other day that "Hillary is going to run," and that she's going to make that announcement "as late as possible," which he said was "a direct quote." (Considering the fact that Buffett has direct access to the Clintons, that affirmation of it being a quote is getting surprisingly little coverage in the media.) Buffett also predicts that Clinton is going to win the presidency, and even says that he'd bet money on it.

Clinton is obviously going to run, but I'm more cautious about that second prediction than Buffett. People forget how bad a campaigner Clinton can be. But still, this is the latest in a tsunami of reports about how inevitable a Clinton presidential candidacy is, and for good reason. Everyone assumes she's going to run, and everyone assumes she's going to win her party's nomination. Which makes sense. All the signs are there.

But inevitability is lousy for democracy. The people are served better by long and brutal nominating contests, during which the candidates are forced to make promises to earn votes. If the Coronation of Hillary Clinton happens in the way the media is promising she won't have to modify her agenda one bit, and that thought scares me.

This article in the Iowa Gazette about a local appearance by independent Senator Bernie Sanders (who is publicly mulling an independent run for president) is making the rounds on the internet, primarily due to the part of the speech where Sanders talks about his ideal agenda: "increasing Social Security benefits and the minimum wage, offering a single-payer Medicare-for-all health care plan, creating 13 million jobs by investing $1 billion in a federal jobs program to rebuild transportation infrastructure and overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision." Just that half-a-paragraph probably won this article thousands of pageviews, because it's so refreshing to hear a politician lay out an ambitious agenda. None of those are new ideas—each of those items has brought crowds to their feet at Democratic rallies I've attended over the last few years—but they're not promises we can believe when they come from President Obama or his inner circle.

Unless she has to, I don't think we're going to hear any of those promises from Hillary Clinton in the next year-and-a-half. (And even if she were to promise them, I'm not entirely convinced I'd believe them from Clinton, but that's a whole other blog post for another time.) And that's bad for democracy, and bad for the party, and ultimately bad for this country. When Democrats win power, they generally demonstrate no compunctions about becoming centrist, so what would a Democrat who ran as a centrist become?