Generally, I’m not a betting man — particularly with this many GOP nomination hopefuls. However, I’ll make an exception and go ahead and try and predict something.
… but, then again, I may be wrong. Regardless, I’ll throw out some thoughts, and see what takes hold.
I’ve written about quite a few political subjects and phenomena, but the question of who will win the party nominations is, frankly, one of the few questions people genuinely care about these days. So, which Democratic and GOP contenders will be nominated by each party to run for president, and why?
When voters look at who should lead, they will look at what’s been happening, and then search for someone competent enough to progress some aspect of politics, according to their personal political tastes. While some of the current nominees use inflamed rhetoric and insults to propel themselves to the top, presidential politics is not a business, and it can’t be approached as such.
In presidential politics, mudslinging, ridiculing opponents, and dividing voters into camps will only take candidates so far. At the end of the day, the president is the only representative who reflects the majority views of the entire United States. Because of this, extreme views are not welcome — because a majority of American political views are, in fact, not extreme. Hence a far right or far left president is highly unlikely in the United States.
Candidates must not only to articulate how their policies will be different from the current administration’s, but they also must prove competence and loyalty to their respective Party. So, I’ll contextualize the conversation by explaining what will most likely happen next year (in order to gauge what issues people will care about in the future), and I’ll explain why some other candidates won’t make the cut.
Where are we going?
While I can’t be 100% accurate, I can at least assume a few things about what Obama most likely will do next year:
Granted president Obama follows his current trajectory, he wants to develop several policies. I read that he wants to hit the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, Obama’s sweeping international trade agreement; It needs to go through Congress. He wants to close Guantanamo. Developing the Iranian Nuclear Deal is a high priority. He wants to find an agreement in Syria (with conservative Russia). And finally, he wants to touch criminal justice reform — all of this while defending Obamacare and other executive orders, again.
But primarily, this means that 2016 will be a year where Obama attempts to clean house, internationally speaking. He wants to increase global trade, reduce conflict in the Middle East, and enhance American reputations globally. By trying to close Guantanamo, he implicitly agrees that the facility was a mistake. By increasing trade, he’s hoping to put a dent in global poverty (because poverty breeds extremism). He just wrapped up climate talks in Paris, and I’m willing to bet those agreements will come back into Congressional discussions. … All of this he wants to do next year.
However, to do this, he must sacrifice domestic policy development. After all, he can’t get everything he wants, because he must reconcile differences with a Republican Congress. Yet America still has domestic issues with over-policing, simmering racism, poverty, minimal economic growth, growing income inequality, and an under-insured public when it comes to healthcare (still). If Obama wants to market America as a great internationalist country, then he necessarily must sacrifice some domestic development — and my guess is that the economy will start to be on the public’s mind again.
This means that there is space to define what Americans will want in a post-Obama world. Some voters will be looking for prosperity, but others will look for social justice. While Obama will no doubt achieve quite a bit, the next president’s task will be to define American values moving forward, which means accurately reading the majority of American voters. And because presidents must seek the approval of the entire country (to an extent, ELECTORAL COLLEGE), my best guess is that we’ll start to see more-responsible, mild candidates in 2016.
Consider this: Obama set a precedent for future presidents — one of moderation. As a moderate leader, I have a feeling Obama’s mild-mannered nature, thoughtful and deliberate speech, and unwavering commitment to force logical reasoning will be what historians remember him best for, and I would say he brought moderate political conduct back into fashion again. … We already see this precedent playing out with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan; where Ryan was once an outspoken Libertarian, he now is calling for reason, order, and productiveness on the House floor.
All of this means a few things for potential nominees. First, domestic politics and the economy will once again emerge as the most-important issues. Second, as the campaign season moves forward, candidates must appeal to the broadest range of voters possible — and this means being moderate, not extreme.
Who will be the nominees?
On the Democratic side, there are only two options: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. While Sanders does have a decent base to actually create a solid third party option (based on economic lines), he simply won’t find the numbers yet. Will Sanders potentially begin a new wave of American politics? Perhaps. But will he win the nomination? I say, doubtful … The United States isn’t ready for Sanders’ socially and economically conscious approach quite yet.
Hillary Clinton, by contrast, has long been a powerhouse of the established Democratic party. She clearly has the resume necessary to take the office, and she appeals to a progressive crowd intrinsically because of her gender. Following the first African-American president, and the legalization of gay marriages across the country, voters may decide that it’s simply time a woman take the high office — and Hillary has the necessary experience, her policy positions are well developed, and she is resilient to most negative media coverage. Clinton has the ability to capture the imagination of the American political left, which translates into someone capable of achieving 51%+ of the votes, nationally speaking.
On the Republican side, there are only really two serious options: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The rest of the current GOP herd will be weeded out eventually (the poll numbers are dismal for everyone other than Trump, Rubio, and Cruz), and, because he’s too extreme to ever capture a 51%+ majority vote, Donald Trump will ultimately end up with a failed presidential bid.
There is no room for extremism in the Oval Office, because it leads to reckless decision making. Because of this, voters will not go for a Cruz or Trump nomination because it reduces the likelihood of winning the presidency against a moderate Democratic option. While Jeb Bush was a prime moderate GOP contender, his campaign rollout was too casual and reacted too slowly to changes to be viable.
Donald Trump’s insults and other high verbal misdemeanors make him a meta-aggregation of stereotyped conservative fears. He’s a composite of all the generic conservative buzz words; he’s “politically incorrect,” “against the establishment,” and apparently he’s “speaking the truth” while characteristically ignoring both facts and logic — something the Party is currently trying to distance itself from. Ted Cruz’s strategy is to pick up the voters that Trump leaves behind by maintaining firm stances on social issues with his fanciful rhetoric. But, I’m sorry to say, voters will eventually catch on to his dis-genuine oratorical skills. Neither a Cruz nor Trump strategy will work for the nomination.
On the other hand, Marco Rubio is one of the best candidates the GOP has for a viable moderate political leader. Unlike Ted Cruz, who is only a few degrees shy of Trump in extreme right chatter, Rubio is soft spoken, logical, charismatic figure, and was the protege of the former conservative poster child, Jeb Bush. Additionally, Rubio has the modest upbringing and Hispanic background needed to capture the socially motivated, working-class segments of the GOP.
Why Clinton and Rubio?
If we recall, Obama will leave an office that sets a moderate precedent, which hopefully will begin the undoing of American political polarization. He also will leave a country with a multitude of domestic concerns, and, depending on what gets accomplished, someone who must tackle complex international issues. This means the demands will be pretty hefty.
Because of this, nominees need to 1) be moderate (genuinely so — a precedent set by Obama), 2) candidates must embody their respective party’s values, and 3) each nominee must understand how political development occurs at both domestic and international levels. Because of these demands, an establishment choice, from both parties, is inevitable.
Should a nominee meet these criteria, we’ll find candidates who can 1) talk about nearly any policy confidently and non-confrontationally (unlike Trump, or Cruz), 2) explain how they embody Party values (and explain how that’s been demonstrated throughout their lives), and 3) these nominees will be able to articulate a clear vision for a post-Obama America.
Depending on which is more important at the time, either candidate would have a clear shot at having a 51%+ victory. Voters from each Party want a presidential winner, not someone who will capture only 30% of the national vote. Should Americans prefer social justice, domestic equality, and using “soft” American power, internationally speaking, then Hillary Clinton would most likely win. However, should the world be such that Americans are calling for economic prosperity, hawkish international conduct, and recoil itself from too many ambitiously sweeping national programs, then Rubio would clearly be a better fit.
As it stands, because of the actions taken during the Obama presidency, Americans will be charged with choosing two competent nominees. And because of their backgrounds, experience, temperament, judgement, and moral standings, Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio will appeal to their respective Parties above any others.