BY JOEL MOSKOWITZ
Take heart Republicans, you have a chance at winning the White House in 2016. Let’s face it, the Democrats could have run a can of diced tomatoes in 2008 and won. That was a perfect storm; an economic tsunami with enough blame to go around for both parties, but the buck stopped with the incumbent R in Washington. Add in a war weary electorate and the chance to elect the first African American president and Jesus couldn’t have won running as a Republican.
In 2012 the GOP stayed true to form and nominated the next in line, Mitt Romney. The problem was that Mitt came from the wrong wing of the party, the rich one. Wealth was not going to win that election, people were still hurting financially and Mitt just wasn’t empathetic enough to most Americans.
The economy is better but that is not a guarantee that the outgoing president’s party can win, just ask Al Gore. All jests about Gore having actually won aside, all he had to do was win his home state and the election would have never been in doubt. He just was that bad a candidate. So to retain the presidency, the Democrats need an electable candidate. For the Republicans to pull it off they just need to run someone who doesn’t suck.
Here’s how the Republicans can win in 2016. It depends on three factors and all three have to occur for them to pull it off:
- They have to nominate anyone not named Trump or Cruz
- Hillary has to stay unlikable
Bottom line, Trump and Cruz make for an interesting narrative but they simply cannot win a national election. Republicans historically do not nominate fringe candidates. The last one, Barry Goldwater got shlonged and that was in 1964, fifty years ago. The GOP is likely to go safe especially in the Mid West and the West Coast. Rubio seems to be the media darling right now but I think Bush and Kasich can get a second look. Any one of those would be a strong candidate and can score enough independent votes in big states to pull out a win.
There are two things that propelled Obama to victory in 2008, Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush. By all reasonable and conventional political thinking Hillary should have walked away with the nomination, even against Obama. But for reasons tangible and not, people either don’t trust her or don’t like her. That hasn’t changed in the past eight years. As is obvious, the Democrat bench just isn’t deep and frankly anybody worth voting for won’t put himself or herself through the cesspool of a nominating process. Think Elizabeth Warren.
Hillary is polarizing without the email scandal, but with that hovering over her, even a remote hint that Obama is covering for her and she will hemorrhage support. Many Hillary backers can easily switch to Rubio, Christie or the others who aren’t Trump or Cruz. She is the odds on favorite in 2016 the way the New England Patriots were in 2007 when they went 16-0 in the regular season but they just couldn’t finish. It remains to be seen if she can.
Woodrow Wilson presided over victory in World War I but couldn’t get his treaty passed nor could he keep the White House in Democratic hands. Ditto Winston Churchill in World War II and he was duly thrown out of office. Barack Obama hasn’t won any wars and even his staunchest supporter, me among them, believe he has been naïve in foreign policy and aloof to American concerns about safety.
Still, Hillary will be able to make a compelling if not flawed argument that Obama’s foreign policy and by extension her own, resulted in fewer troop casualties and brought most of them home. She will also be able to argue that American standing in the world is better than it was at the end of the Bush presidency.
However, we are one car bomb/stabbing/shooting/melee that ISIS can take credit for, from propelling a Republican to the White House. Enough people will place security and a muscular American world presence way ahead of pocketbook issues. Neither Hillary nor any other Democrat running or potentially drafted will be able to convince the majority that they can keep us as safe as the hawks can. That isn’t speculation, that’s American nature.
This scenario is not far fetched but it does depress me. The next president will likely name three justices to the Supreme Court (Ginsburg, Breyer and Kennedy seem likely to go soon) and I just can’t stomach that because of ISIS – social policy in this country might be conservative for the next fifty years.
Joel Moskowitz is a businessman and writer who lives in New York. His blog, The Ranting Heeb is available on blogger.com. He is also a regular blogger for the Times of Israel.