JACK SPENCER: A likely but disturbing scenario
It’s a simple concept; in an election candidates state their positions on issues and leave it up to the voters to determine which one should be elected. However, quite often “the issues” don’t determine who wins a presidential election.
We’re probably about a year away from knowing who the two major parties’ nominees will be in 2016. Nevertheless, it is not too early to make a rather pessimistic prediction.
The plan for the Republican candidate will be to win by avoidance. He will avoid saying anything that might excite the conservative base. He will avoid taking on his opponent issue by issue. He won’t actually be running for president; he’ll be attempting to sidestep his way to victory.
The Republican candidate will allow his opponent to dominate issues of freedom and liberty. His opponent will talk about the modern liberal version of freedom and liberty; speaking of protecting “the people” from excesses -— real and imagined — of large corporations and organized money interests.
The Republican candidate will refuse to counter this with the conservative version of freedom and liberty. He will not speak of protecting individuals from overreaching government. He’ll act as though it was distasteful to defend the concept of individualism against a herd mentality that feeds off manufactured emotion-based rhetoric.
The Democratic candidate will argue for more “diversity.” In reaction, the Republican candidate will freeze like a deer in the headlights. He will not point out that real diversity cannot be captured in a photograph. He will not say that true diversity has nothing to do with superficialities, such as what people happen to look like, the color of their skin or accents of speech. He won’t bother to say that true diversity involves differing opinions and world views. He won’t mention the lack of real diversity among the ivory tower theorists that influence government. He won’t mention their intolerance of anyone who strays from the latest group-think Mantras.
The Democratic candidate will argue for constantly increasing green energy to fight manmade climate change. The Republican candidate will timidly acquiesce. He won’t level with the American people by pointing out that every precept of manmade climate change is politically based, not science-based. He will refuse to point out that those who promote manmade climate change don’t dare debate it. He will not point out that even if manmade climate change was a fact; green energy in the U.S. is a farcical excuse to promote corporate welfare schemes that would do nothing to halt it.
The Democratic candidate will argue that Obamacare has provided healthcare coverage for millions of Americans. The Republican candidate will say it was fraudulently represented. He will remind voters that they were told — “if you like your current policy and doctor, you can keep them.” But he won’t talk about repealing Obamacare; he’ll only talk about fixing it.
On illegal immigration, the Democratic candidate will talk about its complexity and say the U.S. should never turn away anyone who aspires to a better life. She will promise that, if elected, a special commission to study the issue and make recommendations will be appointed. The Republican candidate will argue that the Obama administration failed to adequately address the issue. He will sound like he wants to take actions to secure the borders, but will avoid making any real commitment to do so.
The Democratic candidate will blame three-quarters of the world’s problems on the U.S. She will cast the rest of the world as enlightened victims of U.S. greed. She will portray the history of the U.S. as a sordid litany of misdeeds, racism and exploitation. The Republican candidate will do nothing to set the record straight by pointing out that, when compared the rest of the world, the U.S. has more often than not been the example of what is the best hope for mankind. He’ll miss the chance to make patriotism his issue.
At least once, the Democratic candidate will say she is more conservative than she has been portrayed. Repeatedly, the Republican candidate will deny that he is as liberal as the political right accuses him of being.
It might all come down to Obama fatigue versus the opportunity to put a woman in the Oval office.
The Republican candidate will count on voters being tired of having a Democrat in the Whitehouse. His hopes will hinge on the national instinct for changing course. The one exception to his campaign of avoidance will be foreign policy. He’ll pursue that energetically; accusing Democrats of failing to maintain the posture of strength needed to provide national security.
This is always a path of least resistance for the party that does not control the executive branch; but in 2016 it could be an especially good issue for Republicans — in fact, it could win for them. However, its value depends entirely on popular perceptions of changing world events.
The Democratic candidate will take advantage of the open field her opponent gives her regarding nearly all of the issues. However, her real underlining strategy will be all about the fact that she would be the first woman president. The subtext of her campaign will be that: “it is about time a woman had a chance; and this woman deserves it; after all, she has persevered in the face of public embarassment and failures.”
Jack Spencer is Capitol Affairs Specialist for Capitol Confidential, an online newsletter associated with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (MCPP). MCPP provides policy analysis. The political analysis represented in this column does not necessarily reflect the views of the Mackinac Center.