It’s official: Hillary’s a go.
Even though many of us haven’t forgotten (or quite forgiven) her pretty despicable and amateur-ish 2008 campaign, I think it’s safe to say that Hillary is all but a shoo-in to receive the Democratic nomination in 2016. Yes, you could say that I’m making an early prediction: Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the Democratic nominee and the eventual 45th President of the United States.
The Democrats could possibly tap another person as their candidate, but I don’t think it’s very likely. Elizabeth Warren could have been formidable if she wasn’t a ‘one trick pony’ (let’s face it: while pushing for reform on Wall Street is a HUGE deal, it’s the only thing most voters know about her). Joe Biden is a likable guy on a very personal level. But it’s highly unlikely the Democratic leadership will tap him as a legitimate candidate. His service as VEEP has created as many punchlines as it has opportunities for promotion to president. Julian Castro could be the next Barack Obama, but I suspect the Clinton camp will try to lure him on to Hill’s ticket. In fact, they’ve already started to woo him. Besides all that, I don’t think Castro is as much of an upstart as Obama was. Plus he saw how ugly things got in 2008 when Obama had the…pardon the pun…audacity to challenge Hillary. So I’d probably take his hat out of the ring, at least for the moment. So the only viable candidate to secure the White House in 2016 is Hillary Clinton, as much as I hate to admit it (mostly because, as my friend The Hippie Conservative once argued, the presidency shouldn’t be a monarchy). In fact, early polls suggested that Clinton was favored against any Republican challenger by anywhere between 6 to 9 points.
I’m not in the habit of crowing anybody. But, barring some major catastrophe, I’m going to call it right here: Hillary will be the Democratic nominee for President. That being said, how can the Republicans beat her?
First off, the strategy needed to beat her is simple enough to articulate, but difficult to actually execute. To wit, they need a woman to defeat another woman. Like Obama, Clinton is on the good side of history with her candidacy. And like with Obama, the Republicans are ill-equipped to put up much of a challenge. Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush are probably the most solid candidates to bring the Republican party together. But the core constituency that they need – young and minority voters – will require the party to embrace a candidate more likable than any of those guys. They will carry the white female vote and the older white male vote like they did in the past few elections. But they’d need a much bigger push, which I don’t believe they have.
The most obvious way for Republicans to combat the threat of Hillary Clinton is to level the playing field by nominating a woman themselves. This is where they have to exercise extreme caution, though. They should learn their lesson from the 2008 disaster and avoid political lightweights like Sarah Palin at all costs, opting instead for a seasoned politician even if she’s absent of Palin’s charisma. But she also has to have a moderate approach to politics, opposite of extremists like Michelle Bachmann, seasoned as she was. Hillary brings a nice combination of experience and appeal, making it hard to oppose her. But not impossible. To keep their foothold on white female voters and to also snag the all important Independents, Republicans need to step up their game a bit. They don’t boast an impressive track record with women in leadership positions, something they can immediately correct with a female nominee. Of the 20 female senators currently in the 114th Congress, only six are Republicans. None of the four female Republican governors have hinted at a run for the White House, and the House doesn’t have enough seasoned choices to make the race even slightly competitive. Even though nominating a woman seems to be the best bet to derail Hillary’s chances, the Republicans are highly unlikely to identify a strong enough candidate before the primary season. In short, they’re probably doomed before they’ve even started.
In addition to the GOP’s mounting ‘woman problems’, they continuously dig themselves in a political hole by not wooing Independents and minorities, who make up a sizable voting bloc. If the Republicans want any kind of shot in 2016, they have some work to do with those voters. Namely, they need to move themselves away from the far right wing of their party and promote a different brand of conservatism. The problem is: the message of the party has been hijacked by extremists and Tea Party conservatives (which is why the party would NEVER endorse Ted Cruz. What is this guy thinking?!); whose message has been one of exclusion and intolerance. This message left unchecked and unopposed will ultimately bring the entire Republican establishment down. Sure, it will continue to get certain officials elected in certain districts. Tea Partiers will still be found all throughout the Congressional halls. But the White House will continue to be an unreachable territory. Not supporting marriage equality, refusing to push for less draconian drug laws, promoting legislation that is decidely anti-productive rights, and remorselessly showing blatant disrespect to the office of the President has not gone unnoticed. If they don’t reign some of that in behavior, expect for their appeal to diminish; especially among younger voters. Unfortunately for Republicans, I think it’s pretty unlikely that anybody within their ranks – with the exception of maybe three candidates – has the ability or the moxy to challenge those so influential within the party.
So to reiterate: the only chance I think the Republicans have to take the White House is by backing a viable female candidate or a male candidate with centrist potential. Right now, they have neither. ANd it will hurt them. That said, congratulations in advance…Mrs. President!
Better luck in 2024, GOP.