As the Republican primaries drag on, we have been introduced to the very worst of each potential candidate. The entire world has been made aware of Newt Gingrich’s paranoid delusions, Rick Santorum’s inflexibility, and Mitt Romney’s lack of a common touch. If anything, it has made poignant political theater. The vicious nature of this season’s primaries has seen muck-raking, infighting, and dangerous pandering to the Republican’s radical base. This will only alienate the saner, more rational voter – i.e. most of America – in November.
I’m calling it. President Barack Obama will win a second term in office and serve another four years in the White House. Barring a huge presidential misstep before November – open war with Iran or implementing even more police state legislation – the Republicans probably don’t stand a chance. This is the year the GOP old guard fades into oblivion. The GOP's senior politicians have no natural leader and unifier, full of vanity and anger where the party needed humility, strength, and courage. Instead of bridging the party's internal fractures and reaching out to the common person on Main Street, they've been eager to preach a gospel of big business.
Which is actually excellent news for the party as a whole.
2016 will be a fresh start for both parties. Joe Biden and Hilary Clinton have earned their legacies; Romney, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), and Gingrich will finally call time on their political careers. But unlike the Democrats, the Republicans have a fresh crop of talented young politicians waiting in the wing who already have garnered significant national attention for their intelligence and astute campaigning.
While 2011-12 will be remembered as the year the Republicans rid themselves of some truly terrible candidates, 2015 will see the rise of a new generation of GOP leadership.
Leading the charge will be three governors and one senator: Governors Chris Christie (NJ), Nikki Haley (SC), and Bobby Jindal (LA), and Senator Marco Rubio (FL). Christie is the old man of the bunch at a still politically-spritely 49 while the other three are 40 or younger. They've been aided by their rare abilities to connect with the average voter, riding on the GOP's recent wave of populism and effectively communicating with their states' needs. Unlike the current GOP leadership, they're not heavily burdened with the "establishment" moniker and are still seen – even the long-serving Jindal – as being fresh leaders with bold new ideas.
All four of them have already attracted significant national attention winning difficult statewide elections on their first go. And while one can find faults with some of their pandering policies, they have served their constituents well, responding to the eddies and flows of this uncertain economic period. By most local accounts, these four politicians have done well enough.
And they’re all ambitious. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that, in their heart of hearts, they have all at some point contemplated running for the highest office of all. In fact, their names have often cropped up in political circles as possible vice presidential running mates.
It would, however, be in their best interests to turn such flattery down. Running in 2012 would be a disaster for them. With the incumbency advantage and a renewed sense of vigor, President Obama is going into full-campaign mode this year and will, in all likelihood, beat an opposition that has already worn itself out over a protracted and vicious civil war. No Republican candidate is coming out of the primaries with an intact reputation, having traded barbs and fought dirty for the better part of a year. Whoever ends up running against Obama – it’s Romney; let’s stop pretending otherwise – will be easy pickings for the Obama campaign team. The GOP has made it far too easy having already uncovered all the dirty little secrets on each candidate.
Instead, they should avoid the dubious temptations of Number One Observatory Circle and spare themselves the tarnish of defeat. If the 2012 primaries was a look into the mediocrity of the GOP old guard, 2016 will showcase some truly stellar talent who can help the Republicans shed their image of reactionary vitriol and take the White House.
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