Hillary Clinton won't say if she's running for president, but a Super PAC that supports her candidacy, Ready for Hillary, has been up and running for about a year already.
Hillary Clinton was old news in 2008, and Barack Obama managed to look like the fresh, exciting politician in comparison to her. Now it is Obama that has worn out his welcome to a substantial degree, and Hillary who people pine for.
While Clinton is being cagey about her ambitions, her supporters are not. Years before any potential announcement from Clinton herself, a Super PAC (which can raise unlimited funds, but cannot work with an official campaign) has sprung up to support her candidacy. They are called Ready for Hillary, which is a huge understatement.
Ready for Hillary launched in 2013, possibly the earliest a Super PAC has established itself to support a candidate, especially one as active as Ready for Hillary. With a fundraising and organization operation run by Ready for Hillary, and Hillary herself making the rounds with a busy speaking schedule to be followed by a book tour starting later this year, Clinton essentially has a campaign up and running already.
She’s not the only one, of course. Fellow democrats Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo and Martin O’Malley, to name a few, have been holding strategically placed fundraisers (though only O’Malley is considered likely to challenge Hillary) and among the GOP, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have been jockeying for position since the day after election day 2012.
Is this a good thing? Should presidential campaigns, which use to only begin in earnest a few months before the election, stretch themselves out over years? On one hand, they are tiresome and a distraction from actual problem solving. On the other hand, it takes a long time for the electorate to get to know a candidate, and very often voters just pick the candidate that they know better.
The real problem is that presidential candidates are spending more time ingratiating themselves to the funders, not the voters of our democracy. The candidate with a solution to that problem should start his or her campaign right now.