By Graham Glover –
It’s only 16 months until the 2016 presidential election, and to be honest, I can’t wait. I love presidential campaigns. There is nothing like it – no other campaign compares.
Are you ready? Are you ready for the primary season, the debates, the TV advertisements, the mailers, the phone calls, and the endless Facebook posts? Or am I crazy, a political junkie who is addicted to what many consider nothing more than an obnoxious circus? Is it too early to think about who will be elected the 45th president of the United States or are you ready to talk about the next leader of the free world? If so, who’s your (wo)man this time around? Who’s your candidate? Who will replace Barack Obama as the next Commander in Chief?
As excited as I am about this election I have no idea who the parties will nominate or what issues will shape the outcome.
I’m not convinced the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will run. Regardless of how you feel about her politics, if she does run, she will absolutely win the nomination and all things being equal, will likely win the general election. But something tells me she just won’t do it. So if it’s not Hillary, then who? Vice-President Biden would provide for some entertaining moments on the trail and is one of my favorite politicians to watch debate. Are Sen. Warren from Massachusetts or Gov. O’Malley from Maryland to progressive for the Democrats? What about the firecracker and former Gov. Schweitzer from Montana?
It’s even less clear on the Republican side. Is America ready for another Bush? Can Jeb make it out of the primary and continue his family legacy, or do we have to wait for his son, George P. for that torch to be passed? Are Tea Party favorites, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida or Ted Cruz of Texas a likely nominee? Just how influential is this brand of conservatism? Can the Libertarian wing of the GOP make a case in Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky? What about the cultural warriors, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas or Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania? Is Gov. Rick Perry of Texas ready to make another attempt after his disastrous 2012 bid? Is Gov. Christie the Republican answer?
As uncertain as the candidates are, I’m even less certain on what the deciding issues will be in our next presidential election. Are we really going to debate Obamacare again? The system has many, many flaws, but I’m convinced it is now law of the land. 2 presidential elections – too many Congressional votes to count – and validation from the Supreme Court make this a settled issued. So what other domestic issues will dominate? Beyond healthcare, where do our parties substantively disagree on the economy? Will taxes and spending be the only things we talk about…AGAIN? (Sometimes I feel like our presidential campaigns have been reenacting Groundhog Day since Roosevelt…Teddy, not Franklin.) What about the environment? Education? The ever divisive gun control/2nd Amendment? Is there anything new to say on these issues? I’m certainly no social liberal, but does anyone on my side of the aisle really think public policy can be changed on abortion or marriage? (And don’t cite the recent SCOTUS decision with Hobby Lobby. It’s completely insignificant with respect to changing meaningful laws.) Where is the marketplace of ideas for today’s political discourse?
On foreign policy I have no idea where our parties disagree or why. If the Republicans favor international intervention, the Democrats oppose it. If the Democrats see a need for American boots on the ground, the Republicans think it’s a lame idea. Isolationism has friends in both parties and an equal number of foes.
As for defense spending, that’s a mess. I’m not sure either party is immune from the special interests that dominate many of the defense “funding” requests/requirements. Is Obama stronger or weaker than Bush? Will Hillary resemble her former boss, his predecessor, or her husband? IF the White House changes hands, what kind of 2016 Republican will lead our nation overseas? Is America ready or willing to engage in another war anytime soon? Do we need to? If so, where? Can the Middle East ever be fixed and is it our job as the lone superpower in the world to fix it?
So many questions. So many unknowns. 2016 is going to be fun. And I can’t wait!