Hillary Clinton's political future was in the news again this week. A new poll suggested that she continues to be the favored 2008 presidential candidate among Democrats but, among all voters, only about one-third believe she can win. What will she do? Her immediate task is this year's Senate race, which should not be a problem. But will she set herself up for a presidential run after that? She seems to be creating the organization for it now. Should she run for president?
I asked the oracle a general question: what should Hillary do in her political future? And the I Ching replied that she should probably not run for president yet but should keep her spot in the Senate and, perhaps, accept a cabinet post in the next administration or, even, serve as vice-president. Explication below the jump:
The oracle returned Hexagram 6, "Conflict,"
Of course, we expect conflict in political elections; that is the whole point of democratic contention. But the future suggested by this hexagram calls for caution, for not trying to attain too much:
CONFLICT. You are sincere
And are being obstructed.
A cautious halt halfway brings good fortune.
Going through to the end brings misfortune.
It furthers one to see the great man.
It does not further one to cross the great water.
I imagine this describes how Clinton sees herself: sincere but blocked by opponents. But the oracle is telling her not to press through to "the end," which I take here means the ultimate political goal of the presidency. Halting halfway could mean staying in the Senate, a relatively easy outcome, or, perhaps, some other office just short of the White House. The "see the great man" line seems to align with the reading for the moving line in the third position:
Six in the third place means:
To nourish oneself on ancient virtue induces perseverance.
Danger. In the end, good fortune comes.
If by chance you are in the service of a king,
Seek not works.
The further commentary on the "service of a king" portion of this line points to a subordinate political position:
If one enters the service of a superior, one can avoid conflict only by not seeking works for the sake of prestige. It is enough if the work is done: let the honor go to the other.
This sounds like the deference of a vice-president, something Hillary would probably chafe at.
Now, it could be said that the I Ching is biased in favor of resolving or surviving conflict, and that presumption might not be applicable to contemporary American politics. Leaders cannot shirk conflict. If they do, other more aggressive politicians will seize opportunities and leave them behind. If the point of politics is to win electoral competitions, then one has to compete.
Interestingly, the moving line in the sixth position seems to speak to a person who is willing to fight politically; someone who might try to hold out for the ultimate prize:
Here we have someone who has carried a conflict to the bitter end and has triumphed. He is granted a decoration, but his happiness does not last. He is attacked again and again, and the result is conflict without end.
"Conflict without end" is probably understood as a bad thing to the I Ching; but it might be business as usual for American presidential politics. Yet, I think we should take this as a warning. The oracle is saying that, if Hillary does run for president, she will be pushing against the best possibilities of her destiny.
Hexagram 28, "Preponderance of the Great," suggests two competing interpretations. Here is the basic idea:
This hexagram consists of four strong lines inside and two weak lines outside. When the strong are outside and the weak inside, all is well and there is nothing out of balance, nothing extraordinary in the situation. Here, however, the opposite is the case. The hexagram represents a beam that is thick and heavy in the middle but too weak at the ends. This is a condition that cannot last; it must be changed, must pass, or misfortune will result.
So the future is moving toward a breaking point, when political forces have built up in certain ways that are unsustainable and a change, though not a revolutionary change, is required. Does this mean that the current Republican hegemony is growing top-heavy and is ready for a fall? Or could it suggest some other socio-political factors will require some sort of political realignment? Think about this:
It is an exceptional time and situation; therefore extraordinary measures are demanded. It is necessary to find a way of transition as quickly as possible, and to take action. This promises success. For although the strong element is in excess, it is in the middle, that is, at the center of gravity, so that a revolution is not to be feared. Nothing is to be achieved by forcible measures. The problem must be solved by gentle penetration to the meaning of the situation (as is suggested by the attribute of the inner trigram, Sun); then the change-over to other conditions will be successful. It demands real superiority; therefore the time when the great preponderates is a momentous time.
The strong "male" element is in excess: does this mean the time is ripe for a woman president? Or does it mean that Hillary, drawing on the first hexagram, can best respond to the momentous time ahead by "serving a king"? She can be part of the solution, an important player even, but maybe not the top most leader.
Alternatively, what if the Democrats win both House and Senate this Fall? Maybe, then, that is the "strong element" that is in excess. And, if that is the case, then a Democratic candidate for president may be the thing that breaks the beam. Hmmm.
All in all, this divination seems to be telling Hillary not to run for president but to be content with the extraordinary political accomplishments she has already achieved and, most likely, will again achieve by being reelected to the Senate this Fall. Then, wait. Only after the November elections will we be able to better understand what "Preponderance of the Great" means.