Well, it’s that time of the four year cycle again. Time for the men, and, possibly, women, who would be president to start testing the waters before declaring their official candidacies.
I wish that I was planning on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail next year, or this year. I may not listen to the radio for the entirety of next year.
Anyway, there’s going to be a whole lot of nonsense going on over the next year-and-a-half or so, so it’s time for me to put my prognostication goggles on and give you the lowdown on what I figure is coming.
A. If Hillary Clinton runs, expect her to win the Democratic primary. She might not run–one would think that over a decade of being close to executive power would have ended any desire for the presidency–but I think she wants it. She wants it bad. Current polling indicates that she’s ahead of any of the other possibilities–Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren being the only other two with support above the double digits, and that barely. There could be another Obama waiting in the wings, though, so, don’t bet the farm on it.
B. Expect a circular firing squad in the Republican primaries. The four front-runners are Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, Jeb Bush, brother to George and former governor of Florida, Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, and Ben Carson, surgeon, although Rand Paul isn’t far behind. The last three are extremely unlikely. Huckabee won’t garner much support beyond the diehard social conservatives, Carson isn’t ready for primetime, and the Paulistas are but a sliver of the party. Bush is the darling of the party establishment, and does have some broader appeal–however, the main party base is steamed at the party establishment, due to said establishment backing down on both abortion and illegal immigration within the past month. Also, his last name is Bush. Walker has the support of elements of the party establishment due to his union-busting, and the base likes him for not backing down under some pretty heavy pressure from Wisconsin’s public-employee unions. My money’s on Walker, but I’m biased here, as I think he’s the best of the available options for the Republicans.
C. Expect the presidential campaign to get dirty even before the primaries are over. Expect everything from the 1990s to be dredged up again regarding Clinton, and the words “Koch brothers” to be used as often as possible in regards to Walker–fill in for any of the others as you like. Every gaffe exploited, every sound bite taken out of context and magnified, and precious little discussion of actual policy. Which brings me to the next prediction…
D. The campaign narratives will be almost entirely negative. The Democrats will portray the Republicans as the party of Bush and corporatism. The Republicans will portray the Democrats as the party of Obama and statism. In both cases, these charges have basis, although they are both hypocritical. Expect foreign policy, immigration, and healthcare to be the main issues under discussion.
E. I’m not going to hazard a guess as to who’s going to win the election. I will say this, however: if Bush runs against Clinton, the Republicans will lose. Rightly or wrongly, most folks still do not remember the Bush years as fondly as the Clinton years. And if you don’t think that large swathes of the electorate will vote on those feelings, I want whatever you’re drinking. Any of the others and it becomes a toss-up. That the Republicans will keep control of the House is a probability, although the Senate is a bit iffy–there are more Republican than Democratic seats in contention.
F. Finally, do not expect immediate catastrophe as a result of the election, one way or the other. The system’s creaking and groaning, but it still works–for the nonce.
‘Til next time,
Lowell Van Ness
Edit: Originally Rand Paul was Ron Paul. The mistake was pointed out to me by Dr. Micah Watson.