With roughly two-and-a-half years separating us from the 2016 Presidential Election, not many Americans are really thinking about who will lead the nation for four years. However, the potential field of candidates is certainly expanding. Democratic lawmakers, such as Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have all been cited by the media as possible contenders — but what about the GOP? Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) as well as former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie all have been promoted or have explicitly expressed interest in a White House run. Name recognition is something the GOP certainly has on its side…but not much else.
Astounding disunity within the ranks of the GOP will certainly prove to be a problem if the party wants to take control of the Oval Office. Similarly to 2012, there appears to be little party consensus on a candidate. Christie has been criticized by members of his own party for being too liberal, particularly following his willingness to cooperate with the White House in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Similarly, his stance on gun control, says Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, would alienate much of the GOP base. While Christie is too liberal, Cruz, the Tea Party sweetheart, has done little to energize mainstream, center-spectrum Republicans who found little to be desired in his government shutdown spectacle. If Santorum has learned anything from 2012, it should be to stay out of the mainstream media. His Salem-Mass-circa-1640-behavior has often caused him to make wildly distasteful comments that appear to be more rooted in bigotry than political discourse.
If the GOP is to have any shot at Pennsylvania Avenue in 2016, several things need to happen — and happen fast. First, stop cutting the funding that huge portions of your base require to survive. Second, understand that the party is not a platform for Christianity. Third, stop alienating women, the LGBTQ community, Hispanics, Muslims, etc. Fourth, understand that the vast majority of Americans are sick of war. Trust diplomacy as a viable alternative to armed conflict. Fifth, understand that your guns are not going to be confiscated. Rather, support common sense legislation that protects the Second Amendment, while also protecting the country’s children.
No matter who the candidate is, one factor could completely hand the election to the Democrats: Hillary Clinton. Although the baggage she carries from her First Lady years could be a problem, as well as the perceived Benghazi “scandal”- since when has the Secretary of State been required to personally guard every embassy or for that matter, the same party who has worked to create a scandal out of a tragedy also voted to cut embassy security — a Hillary Clinton presidency seems totally possible. A situation that puts Clinton against any GOP contender would surely hand the election to the Democrats. A recent poll from the Associated Press showed that no GOP candidate stood out among those surveyed, while Clinton received a significant response.
Considering all of these things, the election is still two years away and any number of major factors could seriously change what we currently believe will happen. That being said, if the GOP plans to make a showing on Election Day 2016, it had better start changing now.
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