What might the United States political world look like in 2016? The predictions began to roll in even before 2012 votes were counted, with Vice President Joe Biden being one of the first to tease about being a candidate -- for something -- in that year.
My first thought is, just how long is four years anyway? In four years, my second of three children will be starting college and my youngest will be a high school freshman. My own re-election for City Council, should I choose to run again, is next year -- and for me, that's a nine-month birthing event as it is since, with kids, a full-time job, being on Council now and still doing writing and speaking. In case President Obama's win didn't demonstrate this axiom enough, planning a campaign out in excrutiating detail is mandatory if you also want to plan on winning.
But imagine if you're thinking you might run for president in 2016. Because really, you have to think four years in advance. Just look at Florida's U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio. He just made plans to speak at a fundraiser in Iowa (the first caucus state) for that state's governor, Terry Branstad, in less than two weeks.
Calendar, Image Credit: ShutterstockHere are the top five topics I'm thinking about for 2016:
1. The political parties: One of the most vexing elements for potential candidates who want to run as conservatives will be figuring out how, exactly, you run as a conservative. The comments of one of my state's retiring members of Congress, Steve LaTourette, says it all:
After some tea party leaders blamed Mitt Romney's loss in the presidential election on his lack of conservatism, Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio, a moderate Republican who announced his retirement in July, offered sharp criticism to their reaction.
"There's a one-word phrase we use in Ohio for that: Crap. That's nonsense," LaTourette said Thursday on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."
Watch the video of the full clip here to get the power and passion in LaTourette as he explains more about the factions within the right side of the aisle. This article lists the top 10 things Republicans can do to win in 2016.
The Democratic party may be feeling pretty satisfied this week, but they cannot take for granted that the coalition that performed strongly on Tuesday will act in tandem again in four or even two years from now. Just as the demographics themselves are changing, so are the people within each of those demographics: their politics are just as subject to change as the demographic itself. And the party must stay on top of that. Mississippi Democrats already have an effort underway to turn their state blue.
2. The coalitions: Women, Latinos, African-Americans, Asian Americans, gays, lesbians. Who is to say that any statistically significant portion of these groups and others I may be missing won't find displeasure in left-of-center policies that rise in priority for them, to the point that they look to the right? Again, this simply cannot be taken for granted. The race between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama presented numerous stark choices, illustrated over time and unable to be Etch-A-Sketched away that frankly scared many voters -- reproductive rights, immigration law, education support. Critics can call these issues any term they want in an attempt to diminish their importance, but voters showed that they will consider the whole package and then decide.
The economy remained the top issue for these groups overall, but that wasn't enough in the face of truly scary comments by the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, among others. Candidates and those already in office, governing, must understand this.
3. The candidates: The prognosticating has begun, and the polling? It started months ago. This week, TIME Magazine published its Class of 2016: The Political Leaders to Watch. And today, on the MSNBC cable news show, Morning Joe, a quibble fest broke out over whether those leaders to watch are really the 2016 presidential primary candidates in waiting. Frankly, I think both parties will have far deeper benches than ever before come 2016. And by this I don't just mean lots of people who don't look like our candidates have looked for most of the past 200 years, but rather a crop with far more years in public service than even the Republican candidate for president had this year. We will have many choices, of that I'm confident.
NB: Of the 13 portraits, four are of women potentials (Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice, Nikki Haley and Kirsten Gillibrand, but not Sarah Palin, Kelly Ayotte, Susana Martinez, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Amy Klobuchar, Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- I could go on but I'll stop there)
4. The campaigns: Internet, ads, outside money. What will these elements look like by 2016? In 2006, Ohio Democratic Party chief Chris Redfern told me they'd never put money into blogs until it was shown that doing so could raise money. Hello Barack Obama 2008. Yet in 2008, when I spent election night in the NPR blogger war room, Facebook was barely in use yet and Twitter was a young'un. This year, in the NPR 2012 election social media war room -- a name change by me, given all the new tools that now exist -- these tools are basically mainstream, being used by print paper journalists and bloggers alike.
Of course, the influence of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which allowed untraceable and unlimited super PAC money to flow, was new this year, but it appears to have had little effect on the outcomes, at a huge cost to those willing to spend. It is almost unimaginable to me that one person would spend more than $50 million dollars only to see all his candidates lose. Ain't that America, if not for you and me, for Sheldon Adelson.
5. The in-between: What could possibly happen in the intervening years that might influence the election -- events we cannot anticipate, and even those we can? Continued anomalies in weather patterns that cease to be anomalies? A new normal in unemployment percentages? Permanent changes to how we plan for retirement -- including whether we ever get to retire? And what about the Affordable Care Act and its implementation? Which predictions will come true? There's the United States Supreme Court, not composed of spring chickens. Certainly Obama will have at least one appointment and how might that shift sentiments, as well as the law itself?
Folks, if there's one thing I've learned as my political junkie habit has evolved, it's that there is no such thing as an off year when it comes to politics. What do you think of when you think of the 2016 elections?
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