Well, the US elected a Republican Congress last fall. Then, Thuringia elected a Minister-President from the Left Party, successor to the old East German Communists. Then, Israel had its hotly contested snap election, after all the scandal and fury about Iran and the speech. Now, Britain has had its election, giving David Cameron’s Conservative Party a small but workable majority in the House of Commons. Congratulations to Cameron. Now, on to the next election. This one’s a big one…
The Iowa Presidential Caucuses will be held next February, but the would-be Commanders-in-Chief are already flocking to the Hawkeye State. This is the first contest in the long march to the White House, and Iowa’s use of the Party Caucus format instead of the Primary Election means that face-time with the registered Party members is critical for anybody trying to pull off an upset. Remember, it was Barack Obama’s victory in the Iowa Caucus that disproved the inevitability of Hillary Clinton, and led him to the nomination, and the White House.
The Republican field is already crowded and is likely to become even more so. The Republicans can also boast of having a number of credible potential potentates in their field; Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Rick Perry are all reasonably within the confines of a “ Presidential material.“ Carly Fiorina doesn’t have the necessary political experience, but is a possible future Secretary of the Treasury. Jeb Bush is past his political expiration date, and Rand Paul is more likely to be a long-term legislator than an executive officeholder, at least in my opinion.
John Kasich is a less well-known politician who is likely to jump into the fray. In full disclosure, he’s my personal favorite at this point. Kasich has a reputation for economics-focused policy and a pragmatic approach to politics. He is also the relatively popular Governor of swing-state Ohio. Not known as an ideological purist, he would have difficulty getting the nomination but would be a formidable candidate for the general election.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (the unabashedly socialist Senator from Vermont and former kibbutz volunteer) are the only official candidates at this point.
The Democratic Party itself has grown tired of Hillary Clinton, and it seems that the activists and donors in the Party are looking feverishly for an alternative. Possible contenders are Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Jim Webb of Virginia, and former Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. They is even talk of digging up Al Gore for another run.
It is still early, and the candidates’ platforms are not yet formulated. The main themes of this election are still up in the air, but it is likely that economics and immigration are going to be major issues of discussion. Foreign affairs will likely take a back seat, barring some news-making event.
The exception to that is likely to be Israel, which could be a very hot topic on the Republican side. Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, is also a pastor and is known to hold “Christian Zionist” sentiments; his RepubLikud bona fides are certainly exceptional, even in a pro-Israel field of candidates for a pro-Israel Party in a pro-Israel country. Huckabee won the Iowa Caucus in 2008 by appealing to the large constituency of Evangelicals in Iowa’s Republican Party, and is likely to do well among that demographic again. If his campaign catches on, expect the rest of the GOP field to pump up their pro-Israel credentials as the campaign season gets rolling.
The Democrats are more difficult to read on this issue; many Dems think that Mr. Netanyahu insulted President Obama and the Democrats in Congress with his Iran speech. Add all the potential for new controversy between a Democratic Administration and an Israeli government under the strong influence of Naftali Bennett, and the Democratic contenders might decide that it is wiser to avoid the issue entirely and focus exclusively on the pros and cons of the Clinton Foundation’s plutocratic financial trail.
And, for those who don’t really want to think about politics all that much, Donald Trump has a tour of Iowa scheduled for later this month. He claims to be exploring a possible run for the presidency. If I wanted to support a Casino, Resort and Hotel magnate’s foray into politics, I’d prefer Steve Wynn, but we don’t always get what we want.