What's next for Hillary Clinton

Following her defeat in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election by Republican candidate Donald J. Trump, Hillary Clinton must now look ahead to the future.

After her loss in the 2008 Democratic primaries to opponent Barack Obama, Clinton took a role in his administration as the Secretary of State. It seems unlikely that Clinton would be similarly welcomed into a cabinet position in the Trump administration—or that she would accept such a post, if offered. As the country remains bitterly divided over many issues, perhaps the easiest course for the former First Lady to take would be to quietly retire from the public eye. But for someone with the drive and willpower of Secretary Clinton, we don't think that a quiet life would suit her. So what will Hillary Clinton do next? Let's take a look at some of her options.

Running for president in 2020

Despite Donald Trump reporting that Clinton "couldn't have been nicer" during her "lovely" call to concede the night of the election, the Clinton camp's reported low-key support for the ongoing recount efforts—led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein—has some political buffs opining that Clinton may be eyeing another run for the nation's highest office in 2020.

Political reporter and former AP Washington Bureau chief Ron Fournier—who has been covering the Clintons since Bill was the Arkansas Governor—reports that sources "close to her" say the former First Lady is keeping her options open for a future run. Naturally, several conservative and alt-right websites have already declared it "Game On!", taking to their editorial pages to question the wisdom of such a run, or cackling over the thought of Clinton pulling on "her Depends" for the 2020 campaign trail.

If Clinton were to run again in 2020, she would be 73 years old, and Trump would be 74. Because her health was often cited as an issue during the 2016 campaign, and also because her defeat was so unexpected—with some projections giving her a 90% chance of winning before the election—it seems unlikely that the DNC would want to take another chance at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with another failed run by a controversial candidate. That being said, the Democratic party currently does not have many potential high-profile candidates to groom for the 2020 election—leaving Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Senator Bernie Sanders as some of the more likely faces to see during the next election cycle.

Running for a lesser office

If running for President again ends up not being in the cards for Clinton, what about running for a lesser office? With her official residence in Chappaqua, NY, Clinton could run for any number of local or state offices—she could even run as a Senator again and try to win her old seat back, which she vacated in 2009.

Presuming that Trump's Congressional term limits proposal—which has the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan—is not passed in the next two years, Clinton could feasibly look at a run for her old office as soon as 2018, during the midterm elections. Given the friendly relationship that Hillary has with Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand—who replaced Clinton in the Senate and will be up for reelection in 2018—it seems unlikely on the surface that Clinton would make a run for Gillibrand's post.

However, some rumors have been circulating that Gillibrand has recently been quietly reaching out to former Clinton donors—perhaps in anticipation of a possible 2020 Presidential run herself. Given the trend of announcing Presidential campaigns nearly two years before election day—577 days before the election in Clinton's latest run—it's possible that if Gillibrand is serious about running, she may vacate her seat before the 2018 midterm elections in order to focus on a Presidential bid. This would leave her chair up for the running to any interested party—including potentially Hillary herself.

Staying politically active as a private citizen

Even if Clinton has decided that she's done with public office, she will definitely stay in the political limelight even as a private citizen. During her official concession speech on November 9th, she explained, "Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years but all the time. So let's do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear; making our economy work for everyone not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet and breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams."

At a speech to the Children's Defense Fund one week after the election, Clinton stressed the need for citizens across the country to continue the fight in the years to come. "We have work to do, and for the sake of our children and our families and our country, I ask you to stay engaged, stay engaged on every level," Clinton said. "We need you. America needs you, your energy, your ambition, your talent. That is how we get through this."

President Barack Obama has made comments recently about how he will continue to be active in the political arena after Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017. During an address to liberal advocacy group Organizing for Action, Obama said, "I'm going to be constrained in what I do with all of you until I am again a private citizen," adding, "but that's not so far off." If Clinton decides to follow in the footsteps of her former boss, we may soon see her speaking out on issues after her Republican opponent takes office.

What issues might she become the new champion of? In the past, Clinton has strongly advocated for children's programs such as the Children's Health Insurance Program, and has also called for changes to the Affordable Care Act in order to make it more comprehensive. With Trump and others calling for a repeal and replacement of "Obamacare" as well as major cuts to Medicare, this might present the perfect opportunity for Clinton to continue the fight by lobbying on behalf of concerned Democrats across the nation.

Working for the Clinton Foundation

Ever since the creation of the Clinton Foundation in 1997, Hillary has served an active role as an advocate and leader within the charitable organization. According to Clinton Foundation financial records from 2014, Hillary served as a Director within the foundation and worked on its behalf approximately 20 hours per week. With her defeat in the election, Clinton will now have more time to return to that post if she chooses, continuing the work of the foundation she started with her husband, Bill.

The Clinton Foundation works on many causes—including global health and wellness, climate change, women's issues, and economic development. Unlike many major foundations—which primarily give by awarding grants to other organizations, who then do the charitable legwork—the Clinton Foundation takes a more active role in their giving, with a majority of their funds (82.7% in 2014) going to directly fund their own program services and initiatives. Giving directly on that scale requires a lot of groundwork by employees of the Foundation, which means that Clinton will likely have plenty of work to keep her busy for years to come.

Taking time for herself

After a nearly two year long campaign, one of the first things Clinton will likely do is take some time off to relax. A Presidential campaign is both physically and emotionally exhausting, and it seems only appropriate that Clinton take a break from that grueling schedule for some "me" time.

As of the time of this writing, it appears that Hillary is doing just that. In the days and weeks following the election, she's been spotted in and around her Chappaqua, NY home doing all the stuff that regular folks do—including going shopping at her local supermarket before Thanksgiving and taking relaxing hikes in the woods nearby. After months on a difficult campaign trail, can you really blame her for wanting to just be a normal person—at least for a little while?

Spending time with her grandchildren

Another major problem with being a Presidential candidate is the amount of time you have to spend away from your family. While former President Bill Clinton—and at times, their daughter Chelsea—frequently accompanied Hillary on the campaign trail, there's no denying that a Presidential candidate doesn't get to see as much of their family as they normally would.

So now that the election is over, it's time for Hillary to spend some time with her husband, her daughter, and extended family—including her two grandchildren. While her eldest grandchild, Charlotte, was born in 2014, her little brother Aidan was only recently born in June 2016. Since his birth came during the height of the election cycle, it's doubtful that the new addition to the family has had much quality "grandma" time with Clinton. If it were us, the first thing we'd be doing is cuddling Charlotte and her little brother as much as possible—and promptly handing them back to Chelsea and husband Marc Mezvinsky for diaper changes. That's part of the benefits of being a grandmother, right?!

More Congressional headaches

Throughout Clinton's campaign, the specter of Congressional and FBI probes into her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State has loomed large. Despite FBI Director James Comey's clearing Hillary in July of any criminal wrongdoing over the server's use, the issue has continued to be troublesome. It resurfaced again just two weeks before the election, with Comey making a statement about additional emails being found on disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner's computer. Even though Comey later admitted that following investigation, the emails revealed nothing new and that the FBI wasn't changing its recommendation, the controversy continued to cast a pall over Clinton's campaign.

During his journey on the election trail, Donald Trump promised multiple times to see that Clinton be investigated and jailed for her role in the server fiasco, even making promises to hire a special prosecutor for the case—his supporters also adopted "Lock Her Up" as a favorite chant at rallies. But in the days since the election, it appears that Trump has reversed himself on the issue. "I don't want to hurt the Clintons," he explained. "It's just not something that I feel strongly about." This reversal has left many of his supporters in the alt-right clamoring for Trump to keep his promise, and House member Jason Chaffetz has also vowed to continue Congressional inquiries into Clinton's record, perhaps for years to come.

If Trump does go forward with an investigation after taking office, or Chaffetz manages to open a new inquiry within Congress, Clinton may soon find herself answering yet more rounds of questions about the server and its handling.

Public speaking

For many years now, both Bill Clinton and Hillary have been widely sought-after public speakers. A series of speeches Hillary gave to various Wall Street and other financial institutions was the subject of much criticism during the 2016 election cycle—even after the alleged contents of some of those speeches were leaked by Wikileaks.

Controversial or not, it cannot be denied that Clinton has previously made a lucrative career for herself as a public speaker—a career that she might want to continue again now that she's not going to become President. According to tax records, the Clintons have earned millions of dollars from their public speaking engagements, with Hillary averaging over $200,000 per speech. If you could make $200,000 for a single speech wouldn't you do it, too?

Turn to her faith

While she's never been extremely outspoken about her religious beliefs, those close to Hillary have said on multiple occasions that Clinton has a strong Methodist faith—one which she leans on in times of adversity and hardship. If losing the Presidency to one of the most unliked candidates in U.S. history doesn't count as a time of adversity and hardship, we don't know what does.

According to journalist and Clinton biographer Carl Bernstein, Hillary "retreats and is so comfortable in her faith. She is a deeply religious person, carries a Bible with her, underlines it frequently, believes in the Methodist creed of being called to service and I think she believes she has done her service." We don't know exactly what Clinton will do now, and she may not even know herself. If her connection to her faith is truly as strong as reported, then she'll probably be doing a lot of praying and soul-searching in the weeks to come, as she grapples with planning her future steps.

Write another memoir

Besides her success as a public speaker, Clinton has also been very successful as a writer—with her 2003 memoir Living History was an instant best-seller, selling millions of copies since its publication. With that much literary success behind her belt, it's a sure bet that publishing houses would be lining up at the door if Clinton decided to pen another memoir. From her early years to her experiences on the 2016 Presidential campaign, Clinton surely has enough material to write another memoir if she chose to. Despite her controversial nature as a Presidential candidate, there are still plenty of people in the U.S. and around the world—both Democrats and Republicans alike—who would eagerly eat up a new book of her memories. This would be especially true if she released it in the next year or so, while America's memory of the 2016 election is still fresh in our minds. Heck, even a movie deal based on her memoir would probably be a smash hit—especially if a movie studio could wrangle SNL star and Clinton-impersonator Kate McKinnon into playing the role.

Of course, not all of her books have reportedly been hits, especially her most recent release, Stronger Together, so who knows if she'll be that quick to pick up her pen again?

What now?

As you can see, there are a ton of options for Hillary Clinton to consider as she moves forward into 2017 and beyond. While we don't know for sure what she will be doing next, we do know this: it probably won't involve a quiet retirement. No matter what comes next for Hillary, you can be sure of this: it will be important, it will probably be controversial, and Clinton will give 100 percent to it. As her opponent Donald Trump said during the third presidential debate, "she doesn't give up." Perhaps that's why so many of her fans still love her.