Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The 2016 Republican Nomination Will be a Watershed Moment

So here's the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls, both declared and undeclared.

Ben Carson
Lindsey Graham
Bob Ehrlich
Marco Rubio
Bobby Jindal
Mike Huckabee 
Carly Fiorina
Peter King
Chris Christie
Rand Paul
George Pataki
Rick Perry
Jeb Bush
Rick Santorum
Jim Gilmore
Scott Walker
John Kasich
Ted Cruz

Honestly I don't think any of them can win the general election, but of course one of them will win the GOP nomination and whoever that is will have a huge impact on how the 2016 election plays out.  It will determine the tone of the general campaign, the issues that get major media play and quite possibly the future direction of the party over the next 20+ years.  So first off, most of these candidates are jokes.  They are running either for free PR, vanity, money, or out of pure delusions.   I'm talking about your trumps, kings, jindals and patakis.  Fiorina is a special case who just might be running at the request of the Republican establishment to prove that women are important in the GOP too.  Plus vanity.  Then there are some long shot candidates who might just luck their way into the nomination on a fluke if the top tier all implode somehow.  That's your perry's, paul's and kasich's.  christie would have been on that list if not for his vast array of ongoing scandals and plummeting popularity in NJ.  

But there's really only about 3 top tier candidates who have a decent chance: Walker, Bush and some say Rubio.  Personally I don't think Rubio has a chance either.  There are a variety of reasons Walker and Bush are the only serious contenders right now, but mostly it's that all the other candidates are seriously flawed in various ways.  For Paul holds too many libertarian-type views that don't match party orthodoxy plus he's got personal baggage.  Cruz is hated by his own party for being a dick, is way to far to the right and he looks like frank burns from M.A.S.H.  Perry's an idiot, Jindal is a 15 years old, Carson barely has a campaign staff etc. etc.  And of course Bush and Walker are raising money hand over fist from the big, billionaire type donors.  Which means they also have the support of the GOP establishment figures in government and media circles.  Which means, just like every 4 years, one of them will be the GOP candidate.

At this point my money is on Walker.  Jeb has to much baggage from his brother, and won't be able to attack Clinton on lots of issues where Walker can hit her.  And despite his milquetoast appearance, Walker is a rabid right-winger.  Which means the GOP base will finally get their true believer nominee after bitterly complaining about McCain and Romney as moderate wimps who wouldn't deliver the real conservative message America craved.  There is widespread belief among the base that excessive moderation is what lost them the presidency in 2008 and 2012 (though I'm pretty sure they're very wrong about that).

And that's a big reason why this nomination and general election will be so critical in shaping the GOP going forward.  The base and establishment will finally see what happens when you have a true, hard core conservative as your standard bearer in a presidential election year.  If Walker wins and the GOP does well in the House and Senate, it will be a huge vindication for the right and give them massively increased influence in the party.  And they'll likely control the white house, possibly both houses of congress and the supreme court (with 2 or more seats being appointed during a Walker presidency).  If, as I think far more likely, Walker loses  and loses pretty badly that will be a blow to the far right.  It will hopefully at least halt the party's continued drift towards extremism and likely force it back to the left a bit.  The GOP is already looking at terrible long term demographic trends, with it's older, white base shrinking and more and more people identifying as liberal on social issues.  A third straight presidential loss should be a wake-up call that they can't win nationally unless they enact a major overhaul of they policies.  Silly PR buzzwords like "minority outreach" and "compassionate conservatism" won't cut it.

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