December 15, 2007

Looking Forward

Rather than look back at 2007, page13news wants to look forward to what may be the most intriguing, not to mention entertaining, election year in 56 years. It was 1952 when we last had neither a sitting President or Vice President running for the Oval Office. Without an heir-apparent to the throne, the race will be unlike anything this generations has ever seen.

It wasn't that long ago, when prevailing wisdom leaned heavily toward another Clinton presidency. But ever since the Philadelphia debate (irony all over the place), Mrs. Bill Clinton has shown definitive cracks in her armor. The presumed-next-president has made a series of sophomoric mistakes which have resulted in free-falling poll numbers in each of the first 4 primary states.

Rumors of in-fighting at Big Clinton Enterprises, her inability to separate herself from her husband, planted questions, and Obama's ability to seize on Hillary's gaffs, have provided the foundation for a major turn of events in the Democrat race. It is starting to look possible that Clinton may lose all four of the early primaries. If that happens, it's all-but over for the former first lady.

So then what for the Dems and their allies? After all, since Florida and the hanging chads, the left has yearned for, and failed to taste, the sweet resounding victory they need, to get over Gore's loss. They and their buddies in the news/entertainment industry have spent over 8 years mocking, insulting, and attacking Bush in ways that have made some in their own party blush (Leiberman comes to mind). They've abandoned the concept of politics ending at the waters edge, called our troops murderers and rapists, called them losers (remember Kerry?), rooted for and insisted that we were losing in Iraq.

They cheered when Social Security reform didn't happen, they accused the administration of blatantly infringing on our civil liberties, and they pointed fingers after Katrina, when the incompetence was clearly their own. Their most compelling arguments are made by late-night comics, not leaders within the Democrat party.

The GOP isn't in any better shape. Although the top few presidential candidates haven't made any glaring, race-ending mistakes, none of them (except for maybe Rudy) inspire confidence or seem to possess the ability to capture an broad audience. Romney and Huck won't sell with moderate voters; Rudy's plan not to focus on Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, finds himself slipping in his most critical state, Florida; Thompson is no Reagan.

The GOP brand is damaged and not all because of Bush. The republican-lead congress squandered opportunities and lost credibility when they were in power. They have shown a complete inability to communicate their message effectively. They've cut deals with Democrats for re-election sake, instead of understanding the long-term effects of their actions.

So what will 2008 have to offer? Actually, there are a lot of reasons to look positively at the possibilities. Think about it. There is potential to have an actual contest leading up to the convention; both of them. Not one candidate on either side is the prohibitive favorite. The new front-loaded primary schedule has so many potential outcomes, that later contests - in Pennsylvania for example - may become the great equalizers. Hillary way ahead here, so is Rudy. If they both win the Keystone State, delegates of both parties may be divided among multiple candidates.

Suddenly, the normally boring party conventions take on a new life. Interests groups of all stripes will be force to deal with people they wouldn't normally. The winner will be the candidate who finds a way to sell the message, to cut deals, to mend fences. And both parties may emerge with completely different definitions of themselves. The Democrats could emerge as a the socialist they've become or the JFK conservative party they used to be, while the GOP could fall back to the Reagan model or appear more like Ron Paul libertarians. Hopefully they abandon the Specter/Bush/McCain/Graham model they currently seemed determined to become.

Without a clear leader emerging from the 16 contenders we have at our disposal, the potential exists for surprising results to surface. An actual debate on the direction our country wants to take, based solely on issues and common sense, may be one outcome. An outcome not rooted in polarization, but reason. One can dream can't he?

Of course, we could see the entire house of cards tumble as well. 2008 could look more like 1968. Such chaos would create the potential for disastrous outcomes. The polarization could get worse; some may see or claim a constitutional crisis exists. You think we are a divided country now, wait until the dust settles from that storm and see what we have.

The point is, no one will be able to definitively tell you how 2008 race will end. However, with all the possibilities out there, it sure will be fun to watch.


Ralph said...

Ed, I think its time to start the book...If you do a signing in Jenkintown, I'm there!

page13 said...

I'm thinking more internet news station, but I'll make sure your my first man-on-the-street interview. Just keep the flask hidden and get off the subway grate if you see me coming.