The presidency was once described by some historians as a prize, won in one election by this team, in another by that team. The metaphor suggests that elections are discrete and separate from one another and that the stakes aren’t much greater than those encountered on a game show. But that’s not the case anymore. Prize is the wrong metaphor for how we ought to see the presidency today. Now, we ought to see it as an instrument through which progress can either be advanced or retarded, and rather than thinking of each election victory as a prize, we ought to think of each as a step on a continuum.

This will be especially true in 2016, when a Republican victory would put at mortal risk the gains of the Obama years. So the next election will be no time to leave all this to chance—or to Andrew Cuomo or Martin O’Malley or even to Joe Biden. Hillary has to do it. She could handily beat the whole parade of Republicans. They’re children next to her. None of them is even in her weight class except for Jeb Bush, but he seems to me pretty easily disposed of with one question: “Okay, America, you’re being the given the choice to extend either Bill Clinton’s presidency or George W. Bush’s. Which way do you want to go?”

The circumstances have to be right, of course. I could be wrong about the next four years. But if I’m not, it will be the case not only that Hillary could run—it will be the case that she must run.