Does Hillary owe it to Democrats to run?

The question of whether Clinton runs certainly evokes strong emotions in many people. At a dinner recently, a friend—one with clear Democratic sympathies—argued to me that if Clinton declined to run for president in 2016, the Democratic Party would have a right to feel angry with her, suggesting that she had an obligation to run. My view is somewhat different: She is her own human being, she has the right to make her own career choices, and if she decides not to run, the Democratic Party should simply thank her for past service and move on and find someone else. Clinton doesn’t owe anything to anyone else in this situation, other than making the right decision for herself. Other Democrats simply feel that as someone who obviously is among the most ambitious around, she would be simply incapable of deciding not to run.

Each side has strong views: Some Republicans fear she could be unbeatable, while some on the Democratic side have a fear of the unknown. If Clinton decides not to enter the contest, the Democratic nomination would probably resemble a Cecil B. DeMille production, with a cast of thousands, in which no one would have any idea who would emerge as the party’s standard-bearer. For some reason, that seems really scary to some Democrats. Personally, I think that whether Clinton runs or not, 2016 will be a very exciting—probably fascinating—race. The next presidential contest is just a very different race with her versus without her; the latter scenario would most likely result in the baton being passed to a very different political generation. How could that not be exciting?