In general I have to ask myself a big question. Can America do better, or do we have to rely on the same old tired names and faces from the past, specifically Clinton and Bush? Can we move on from the past and find new, inspirational leadership that wants to bring America back to worldwide respect, be responsible with the federal budget, expand economic growth in a way that is real and not fabricated, and restore our military presence so that America can live in peace through strength; or are we doomed to travel down the same road that has seen our nation decline on the world stage and our economy teeter on the edge of bankruptcy? Elections are supposed to be about the future; but, according to the national media, the past will be our future. This is not what this election should be about.
Hillary Clinton has been declared the odds on favorite to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. But she was the odds on favorite eight years ago when a little know U.S. Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, won the nomination and rode to victory on the winds of change and dislike of the war in Iraq and then President George W. Bush (R). The republican nominee, Sen. John McCain (AZ-R), was not much of a candidate; he was smart and knowledgeable, but dull, while Barack Obama was charming and charismatic. Charm usually wins out over substance, and in 2008 charm was the victor against Ms. Clinton and Sen. McCain.
Today Ms. Clinton faces no opposition inside her party. As presidential campaigns go this lack of competition for Ms. Clinton during the nomination process is not a good thing. Competition will help her sharpen her message and improve her performance while on the stump as well as on the inevitable televised debates in the general election. She is not the best politician in the country nor is she near the top of those who can woo a crowd or charm a television audience like JFK, Barack Obama, or her husband, Bill. A little competition during the nomination process could go a long way to helping her win in the general election.
Republican voters still have a major decision to make. Elections are about winning. Losing an election does nothing. Do republicans want to nominate a candidate with conservative, far right wing philosophical purity or do they want to win the election? The voting public has changed. The Hispanic vote is a growing population and voting bloc, and republicans need to attract those voters. Jewish voters have to be concerned about President Obama’s courting of Iran which threatens the existence of Israel, American’s strongest ally in the Middle East. So is it Ted Cruz for purity or Jeb Bush for conservative moderation? Or is it someone else? Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is trying to bridge the gap between traditional republicans and traditional democratic voting blocs. Can he fill the void that republicans need to win? Or can Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), the son of Cuban immigrants, fill the void that republicans need to win?
Republicans may be able to hit the daily double with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. A good argument can be made that it is time for a governor to return to the White House. Gov. Walker is a lightning rod, however, who has stood up to labor unions in his home state and withstood a recall election, but he may balance the needs of the party to win and the conservative wing that may accept him as one of theirs. His obvious weakness is foreign affairs. But if Scott Walker can learn quickly and season himself on the campaign trail, he may have a good chance to upset Ms. Clinton especially with the right vice-presidential candidate by his side.
Is America ready for new, fresh, young leadership? Can a Scott Walker and Marco Rubio ticket succeed? Governor Walker brings the skills of a governor and Senator Rubio brings the attraction of a son of Cuban immigrants who can speak to the Hispanic community in their native language. Can the republicans make this election about the future? The best chance for a republican victory is to make this election about the future with new faces and new ideas. If they succeed republicans will have their best chance to win.
As is always the case, the election for president is really a contest in a very few states. New York, Oregon, Washington State, and California, for example, will likely vote democrat in 2016 while states like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arizona, and Arkansas will likely vote republican. The real contest is in states like Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. Republicans must nominate a candidate who can carry these states. Democrats already have an Electoral College edge over republicans so to win republicans must crack that shell and then run the table.
For the next nineteen months, sit back and be prepared for a slug-fest through the republican and democratic caucuses and primaries and then the general election on November 8, 2016. For republicans, will purity win out over practicality? Will Hillary Clinton achieve the goal she has been striving for since 2000 when she and Bill left the presidency? Stay tuned. The answers are yet to come. America’s future hangs in the balance.