What has happened to the Republican party this election cycle? Why do we have to deal with these second-tier candidates who crawled out of the woodwork to form circular firing squads and have attacked each other on sacred cows like free-market capitalism! It’s just serves as more fodder for the late-night comedy shows. And the GoP base is having a lot of trouble rallying around one viable candidate who stands for their values. Instead, voters are forced to endorse either the cardboard-like persona of Mitt Romney (direct from central casting) because he looks like a President and apparently no one else has any hope of beating Obama in the General Election; or Newt Gringrich who has more baggage than an airline cargo hold and is arrogant at best and erratic at worst. Why did more promising candidates opt out of 2012?
The simple truth is that the heavyweights (such as Chris Christie – pun intended) have done their political calculations and 2016 provides a greater opportunity for a direct path to the White House than 2012. Here’s the deal: Obama is starting to get some positive traction in the economy with the job numbers, is ending two unpopular wars, and is acting more like a leader with a backbone than a compromiser in recent days. Obama keeps putting the Republicans in no-win situations such as the payroll tax debacle and the appointments during pro-forma Senate meetings, all of which are strategically focused on issues important to the middle class. If they say “no”, they’re voting against the middle class and voting to increase taxes. If they vote “yes”, Obama looks like he is fighting for the middle class. Sneaky, but effective politics! If Europe doesn’t implode during the election cycle, and the Supreme Court does not overturn the federal mandate in the health care bill, it is an Obama victory this fall.
In 2016, the field is wide open on both sides – assuming that Obama gets the second term – so we will see a first-tier offering from both parties. Most of the smart Republicans have already figured this out. Of course, Romney had to run because he auditioned for the part last time and it’s his turn for a kick at the can. But we should expect to see a much better crop in 2016. No more characters out of the clown car such as Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, etc. They will be replaced by the likes of Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Tim Pawlenty, and perhaps some up and coming stars of the Republican Party such as Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, and so on. The circus atmosphere of this year’s primary (as entertaining as it has been) will give way to a serious discourse of the issues facing America and candidates with a realistic shot at the Presidency. History tells us that it will be the Republican turn at bat in 2016 so why waste time in 2012, unless it serves as a dry run for 2016. (Sorry Jon Huntsman, you need to run as a Democrat to get any votes, so this will probably be his swan song as far as Presidential aspirations are concerned – BTW, the Hunstman girls have a bright future ahead as long as it’s not in politics).