For Hillary Clinton to cement her place in history, she must build trust – at home and abroad

She’s the first woman to be named the presumptive presidential nominee of a major US political party, but policies and gaining the confidence of the people will be the true test if she is to win the White House race

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2016, 11:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 3:08pm

The fight for women to gain equality continues, but Hillary Clinton has brought victory a step closer. She has achieved what no other woman has done before by standing alone as the presumptive presidential nominee of a major US political party. Should Democrats endorse her at their convention next month and her name appear on the election ballot in November, further milestones will have been reached. As has been shown by President Barack Obama attaining the highest position in the most powerful nation in the world, though, breaking down barriers does not mean the end of the struggle.

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Clinton should be only too aware of that. The battle so far has been gruelling, with her rival for the party’s nomination, Bernie Sanders, proving more resilient than had been expected. Having been trounced in every metric from the numbers of delegates and states won to raw votes, he still insists on taking the battle to the convention floor.

Then there is Donald Trump, who has fought off 16 Republican rivals to be the party’s nominee. His brashness and non-establishment background have won him unexpectedly strong support. The billionaire businessman’s off-handed comments on race, religion and women does not mean Clinton will win the backing of such groups at election time; Americans think poorly of her and Trump when it comes to trust. The prospect of a woman candidate is not assurance of the presidency.

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Political leaders have to be accountable and open, and Clinton, for all her decades in the public eye, still has much to learn. She has not given a press conference for six months, while Trump has given dozens. Admitting she did wrong to use a private email server for official business, as the US State Department inspector-general has found, would help build trust. The general election will give that opportunity, allowing her to better lay out ideas on domestic issues like education, income inequality and health care and for the wider world, foreign policy.

Trust is, after all, more than just an election issue: the US has to build and shore up economic, diplomatic and political bridges. Clinton’s experience as secretary of state has given her valuable insight and close attention has to be paid to ties with China in particular. The campaign offers a chance to more clearly lay out how to improve relations. If she does that and goes on to the presidency and enacts policies, Americans, the world and women will also win.