The New Electoral Season


“Political campaigns are designedly made into emotional orgies which endeavor to distract attention from the real issues involved, and they actually paralyze what slight powers of cerebration man can normally muster.”

— James Harvey Robinson, The Human Comedy

Herewith an update on the presidential election of 2016.  Although it may seem to some a bit early to focus on such things given the fact that it is less than one month since the last election, news events suggest the next campaign is in full swing. The new season started less than a week following the election.

On November 11, 2012, a piece by Steve Holland published by Reuters had the eye catching headline “2016: Who’s in play?”  For those suffering political withdrawal it was like a drink from the fountain of eternal campaigns.  It named 6 Republicans who might become candidates with a brief description of their qualities and 5 Democrats with similar descriptions.  The named Republicans were Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Condoleezza Rice.  The Democrats were Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley, Mark Warner and Andrew Cuomo.  With the publication of those 11 names political junkies get an idea of whom they should be tracking during the next four years.  Of course, there is still the possibility that an outsider not yet identified will enter the arena but anyone who hasn’t already made his/her intentions known will be at a distinct disadvantage.

In addition to the identification of candidates by Mr. Holland, another indication of presidential intentions can be found by keeping track of who’s going to Iowa. A visit to Iowa by a politician gives a clear indication of the visitor’s interest in things presidential since no one goes to Iowa in November as a tourist.  In connection with the 2016 presidential election, the first politician to indicate his interest in being the next president of the United States (rather than simply being identified in the Reuters piece) is Marco Rubio of Florida.  Before all the recounting of disputed ballots from the 2012 election had been completed, he packed his suitcase, left sunny Florida and went to Iowa. He said he was going to Iowa to participate in a birthday celebration for Iowa governor Terry Branstad who turned 66.  Mr. Rubio carefully explained that his visit had nothing to do with any presidential ambitions.  According to Governor Branstead, the event raised more than $600,000, more than the governor said he “had raised before in any single event.” Observers said this was the first chance Mr. Rubio had to “woo” Iowa voters and the governor said he “hit a homerun.”  Although it is too soon to anoint him the Republican nominee since the other five may also be planning on heading for Iowa, being the first to make the pilgrimage it certainly gives him a leg up, more especially since he hit a “homerun.”

I would be remiss if I did not address the equally important question of who is likely to be the Democratic candidate out of the five identified above.   For the answer to that question we turn to the Buffalo News.  Six days after the election the paper made its formal endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.  And Hillary didn’t even have to go to Iowa. In an editorial published exactly one week after the election the Buffalo News said “it’s not too early to be thinking about who would make an excellent candidate for the presidency in 2016.”  Since the editorial was accompanied by a picture of Hillary Clinton it was not necessary to read to the end to figure out of whom the editors were thinking.  For the slow of wit, however, the editors made it plain when, after listing all her accomplishments the editorial concluded:  “For the country’s sake, and because she clearly is the best candidate, we hope the competing factions in national Democratic politics will coalesce to make her the nominee.”   With than endorsement virtually clinching it for Hillary (if the suggested coalescence takes place as one would hope) the country will be spared a divisive and extended campaign on the Democratic side.  That will enable the country to focus all its attention on the Republican contest and if Republicans are as tired as the rest of us at the prospect of four more years of campaigning they might decide to reward Marco for his early visit to Iowa by simply agreeing that he will be their candidate.

The only downside to such early selections would be that they deprive us of the opportunity to learn what the positions of the other candidates might have been had they been permitted to participate.   Given the lack of substance in the 2012 campaigns and the likelihood of a similar lack in connection with the 2016 election, that is a small price to pay for political silence.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu


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