Third-party candidacies for the Presidency are very difficult, so a major party nomination would be the way to go. Third-party candidates not only have to establish their party and platform, but have to work extra hard to ensure that they have a place on the ballot in all 50 states once Election Day rolls around. It’s not impossible, but it isn’t easy. Plus, third-party candidates — especially if it were a candidate like Admiral McRaven or General Petraeus — would siphon votes off from the Republican nominee and Democratic nominee, and it would likely result in one of the major party candidates winning the election with a minority of votes which makes the new President pretty weak from the outset. In a three-way race (in Presidential politics), one of the major parties will almost always win because they have a stronger and more expansive base than a brand-new third-party trying to build on a foundation that isn’t very solid yet. For a third-party Presidential candidate to have a serious chance of being elected, that third-party needs to have been extant for at least one or two previous election cycles. That gives the third-party a chance to establish name recognition, demonstrate the party’s ideology, raise money, build organizations throughout the country, and, hopefully, elect officials to offices further down the ballot (House, Senate, Governor) prior to running a candidate with a real shot at the Presidency.
Also, a McRaven/Petraeus ticket would be far too top-heavy when it comes to the military. If Admiral McRaven (or General Petraeus) were the Presidential nominee, it would make better sense politically to balance the ticket with a civilian. If the goal was to run a ticket that wasn’t “politics as usual” (which would be the best strategy), I’d suggest picking a business leader as the running mate. If not a business leader, I’d steer clear of Congress and recommend a politician not tarnished by Washington’s toxic political climate — a statewide elected official such as a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General, or even someone from the Judiciary. But if I’m a political strategist or party leader, I wouldn’t run two military commanders — even two commanders as capable and respected as Admiral McRaven and General Petraeus — together on the same ticket.
Well, let’s be clear, for the Democrats to miraculously win both chambers of Congress in November, it would require a more serious wound than the GOP shooting itself in the foot. Both parties shoot each of their members in both feet almost as a requirement for taking your seat in the House and Senate; so, it’s definitely not happening.
But, yes, if Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, President Obama would still have time to get some things done — roughly from the day the new Congressional session began (January 3, 2015) until the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in the summer of 2016. After the nominating conventions, all eyes turn to the general election, of course, but more crucially, members of Congress (particularly the House since all members face re-election) focus on their own campaigns and get very cautious. But for those 18 months or so, the President could definitely get some things done, and would be smart to push through immigration reform and try to shore up the liberal side of the Supreme Court since it’s up-in-the-air who the next President will be and it’s impossible to say whether there would be favorable conditions for confirmation in the 115th Congress that starts in 2017.
It’s not happening, though. And, conversely, if the Republicans win both chambers of Congress on November 4th, President Obama becomes a lame-duck President before he eats breakfast on the morning of November 5th.
Don’t mistake the noisy Tea Party movement and the extremists in the Republican Party as the GOP’s base. They make the most noise, but they don’t cast the most votes, especially in a general election — particularly a Presidential one. Cantor got knocked off, but that’s one guy in one district. Lamar Alexander — a far more moderate Republican easily beat back a challenge tonight in Tennessee from his right, and Pat Roberts did the same thing in Kansas on Tuesday. If those two Senators hadn’t been successful in states where the Tea Party/Libertarian element has been progressing quite strongly over the past couple of years then I might re-think a moderate Republican’s ability to win the GOP nomination in 2016.
Listen, it’s not that some of the other Presidential contenders who are mentioned — Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, etc, etc, etc — can’t win the GOP nomination. It’s definitely possible that they could, but none of them can win the actual election, and as out-of-touch as the two major political parties might seem, neither of them are going to nominate somebody who they know don’t have a shot at winning the election. And I don’t think Christie could even win the nomination. He’s damaged. Sure, he might do fine in the tri-state area, but it’s going to take more than those three states to clinch the GOP nomination, and it’s certainly not going to win him the general election. That bridge deal really hurt Christie in areas where he definitely would have been the top choice immediately after the 2012 election — he’s not a member of Congress and he’s not a Bush, so I’m sure many Republicans were dying to support him. But he screwed up at the wrong time and he’s way more damaged from that scandal than Jeb Bush is by his family. Plus, George H.W. Bush is the most popular ex-President alive today and George W. Bush’s reputation and approval rating has been rising because he’s been scarce, he’s largely been out of the political game, and all former Presidents gain in popularity the further away from their term they get.
The “why” isn’t much deeper than this: the Republicans want to win, and they cannot win with Christie because I simply don’t think there’s enough time for him to rehabilitate himself by the time the Republican primary season hits full swing. If he had another year, yes, he’d probably be able to get back to where he was in November 2012. But he doesn’t, and he can’t. The GOP wants to win and, right now, if we’re looking at the list of contenders most often mentioned for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, Jeb Bush is simply the best bet.
We are still a long way away from the Presidential election cycle truly kicking off. We’re not even to the midterms yet, and that will have major implications on the next two years and the Presidential race. So, all of this can and will probably change. But, today, in August 2014, it’s Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney if the GOP wants to actually win the White House and not just nominate somebody that those noisy people like. The extremists are not the base in either party, and the power lies with the base because the votes lie with the base. If the moderates and independents were the minority in the Republican Party, Mitt Romney and John McCain wouldn’t have been the last two Presidential nominees, John Boehner wouldn’t be Speaker, and Cantor’s primary defeat would have been the barometer for this midterm election cycle and not the exception.
With Presidential politics, it’s usually not much deeper than the fact that the party will nominate the person who gives them the best chance to win and Jeb Bush is that person over everyone else because of the Electoral College math; Jeb Bush is that person over Chris Christie specifically because Christie is damaged nationally from the bridge scandal and doesn’t have enough time to repair that damage; and Jeb Bush is that person because the Bush name won’t damage him as much as some people think, especially if the candidate that the other side is nominating is named “Clinton”. I guess the second part of that last sentence is more of the “why” that you’re asking for, but honestly, the first part of the sentence is a “why”, too. It’s frustrating and seems silly that something so important can be answered with such a broad statement, but sometimes in politics the reason that a candidate can’t win is simply that a candidate can’t win. It can sound dismissive or like someone is trying to dodge the question, but that is often the explanation; Chris Christie can’t win because Chris Christie can’t win.
Vice Presidents always tend to be easy targets and since Biden is so affable and open, people seem to underestimate him. Quite frankly, I don’t know where the Obama Administration would be without Vice President Biden. It’s no secret that Obama has been terrible with building relationships with Congress (and that’s certainly not solely his fault), and can be aloof at times because that’s just one of his personality characteristics — he’s not cold, he’s just a very serious, focused, cautious person. On the other hand, Biden is open and candid — sometimes to a fault — and it makes it easy to poke fun at him. Biden lacks a filter and often says things that he probably shouldn’t say — not necessarily because he’s saying something inappropriate, but more so because he’s so authentic. Like I said, some people find that to be a fault, but I find that to be incredibly refreshing, especially in a political leader who has basically spent his entire adult life in elective office.
But Biden has built bridges between the White House and Congress that have helped accomplish the big things that the Obama Administration has actually been able to get done. That’s because of Biden’s masterful political skills and the relationships and connections that Biden forged through nearly 40 years in the Senate. Biden likes to be underestimated because Biden knows exactly how gifted he is. He has never lacked that confidence — not even when he first ran for the Senate. I mean, Joe Biden is a guy who was so confident in himself that he ran for the Senate (and won) even though he wasn’t yet Constitutionally eligible to actually take his seat until a few weeks after the election.
Plus, a lot of people don’t truly know Joe Biden’s story. They know that he’s been around forever and that he spent decades in the Senate, but he’s never been the stereotypical fat cat incumbent clinging to his spot on Capitol Hill. Biden has always been active, always been a fighter, and always been straightforward. Biden earned everything that he has ever obtained and he worked for the people of his constituency in Delaware every day since his 1972 election, and he’s continued that work on behalf of the people of the United States every single day since he was elected Vice President. I wish that everyone would read more about Joe Biden, learn his story, and see how much he has overcome and how hard he has worked to get to where he is today — Jules Witcover’s Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption (BOOK | KINDLE) is a great place to start.
On a personal basis, I don’t hesitate to stay that Vice President Biden is probably my favorite politician alive today; it’s a close race between Biden and Bill Clinton. But from a professional standpoint — removing any of my personal biases or political beliefs from the equation — I think Joe Biden is probably the best Vice President in American history. Dick Cheney was a more powerful Vice President, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into excellence. Al Gore was the most influential VP up to that point, but his relationship with President Clinton wasn’t as symbiotic as Biden and Obama’s. Barack Obama is the mind and the conscience of the Obama Administration, but Joe Biden is the heart and soul.
Mississippi’s two U.S. Senate seats have been in the hands of Republicans for over a quarter-century — and in the case of Cochran, it’s been held by a Republican (him) for over 35 years. Mississippi voters recognize that a Democrat isn’t winning that seat anytime soon and if they want to actually make a difference in the election of someone who represents all of them, crossing over and voting for the lesser of two evils (to Democrats and most African-Americans) between the two Republican candidates is their only opportunity to make that difference. The GOP Senate primary in Mississippi basically decides the general election since the winner is virtually guaranteed to beat the Democratic nominee in November. When there is a threat of someone like Chris McDaniel — someone who Democrats and African-Americans in Mississippi disagreed with so strongly that they actively supported Thad F’ing Cochran (!) — winning a primary election that would basically clinch him a seat in the U.S. Senate for the next six years, I think it’s a wonderful display of our political system when voters organize themselves in a way that allows them some measure of self-determination. I don’t know why an election in which that happens would be overturned. Nobody broke any voting laws and Mississippians were exercising their franchise in the best way possible — to make sure that they played a part in voting for the person they wanted to represent them.
Incidentally, this type of crossover should open the eyes of any groups or people who wonder about the feasibility of creating a new third political party. It’s one thing if voters are just flat-out fed up and stay home because they don’t care about the candidates, they don’t see any reason to actually go to the polls, and they just don’t care. But these voters in Mississippi clearly care very much about who is going to represent them. The voters who crossed over are so concerned about who is elected to serve their interests that they went to the polls and voted against someone that they’ve probably voted against throughout their lives in order to have some influence in the political process. People want alternatives, but the extremists on both sides of the aisle that both Democrats and Republicans actually put forward as alternatives are so unappealing that voters settle for the incumbents that they don’t really like — and, in the case of yesterday’s Mississippi Senate primary, many voters supported an incumbent just because they disagreed with him less than they disagreed with the other guy.
Every region of this country is ready for a backlash against incumbents as long as the alternative isn’t an extremist. This nation is ripe for a moderate third political party that draws in independents and the frustrated Democrats and Republicans who don’t really identify with those parties as they stand today. Building a third party takes time and money, but it can be done and it should be done. If a third party is organized efficiently in each state and then coordinated on national level, a third party can grow and be successful. It’s not going to result in a third party candidate being elected President right away, but building the party and coordinating it effectively so that the party earns name-recognition and ballot access will allow the new party to elect candidates on a state level and start making progress. Two to six years in and that new party would hold seats in Congress and State Legislatures, grab a few Governorships, and be able to position itself for a serious run for the Presidency. It needs to happen. The country is ready for it now.
No, there hasn’t been a “true Libertarian” President, and if all the Democrats and Republicans were somehow disqualified from running for President in the next election and a Libertarian somehow won, the country wouldn’t change at all. About 20 minutes after the Libertarian President was inaugurated or received their first major briefings, he or she would realize, “Oh shit, government is really important and totally necessary and even if I wanted to make this a truly Libertarian country I couldn’t do it because there are three branches of government and both of the major parties would actually probably team up to defeat what we’re trying do. Plus, actually instituting drastic changes in order to realize the Libertarian ideal would require a repudiation of Libertarian beliefs because it takes government action to change government policies.”
I’ve had a lot of people try to argue to me that the United States is way more of a Libertarian country than a Republican or Democratic country and that the partisan bickering and constant government gridlock due to the two major parties is turning more-and-more people into Libertarians. That’s an easy one to shoot down: no Libertarian has ever even come close to being elected President or Vice President and today, in 2014, Libertarians currently hold a grand total of ZERO Governorships, ZERO seats in the U.S. Senate, ZERO seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, ZERO seats in State Senates or upper chambers of State Legislatures, and ZERO seats in State Assemblies or lower chambers of State Legislatures. In a country where ignorant people use the labels of “socialist” and “Muslim” as if they are bad words, there is an avowed socialist (Bernie Sanders of Vermont) serving in the United States Senate and two Muslims (Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana) serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, but ZERO Libertarians in significant elected positions. I don’t care how passionate many Libertarians are — and they are very passionate because no one sends me angrier and more annoying hate mail than Libertarians — the Libertarian Party has no effect on American electoral politics. None whatsoever.
Thank you. I wasn’t sure if Tumblr was the place for a hard-hitting, technically-detailed editorial using Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy to explain the Super PACs that are now dominating American politics, so I’m glad it resonated.
Now, I’m the last person to toot my own horn (inappropriate) and I’m not saying that I deserve any sort of recognition or anything, but when the respective organizations are ready to send me my Pulitzer Prize and Peabody Award, I’ll be happy to pass along my mailing address. No C.O.D.’s, though.
Our entire campaign finance system is a joke. With Super PACs, I think we should just drop the stupid games and acknowledge what they really are and what really happens with them. I don’t think anybody truly believes that there is no direct coordination between Super PACs and candidates, especially when Super PACs are directed by people with extremely close connections with specific candidates. It’s ridiculous. Just stop insulting our intelligence and acknowledge it for what it actually is. If you’re already doing what you want to do, why do you need to try to trick us into thinking that it’s not what we know it is?
Listen, imagine if Kermit the Frog was running for President and there was a Super PAC called “Building a Green Future" that Miss Piggy was in charge of. Everyone would probably say, "Hey, I bet they are totally coordinating their campaigns", right? And no matter how many times Kermit denied any collusion between his campaign and Miss Piggy’s Super PAC, we probably wouldn’t believe him if he kept showing up on MSNBC with Miss Piggy’s lipstick marks all over his stupid face, right?
Well, that’s basically the charade we get with campaigns and Super PACs nowadays, except the candidates aren’t nearly as appealing as Kermit the Frog and there is cash in the place of Miss Piggy’s lipstick.
I say that I think it’s going to be tough for the South Dakota Republican State Convention to impeach the President of the United States since only the United States House of Representatives can do that.
Since South Dakota only has one member of Congress in the entire House — Kristi Noem, who is an at-large representative for all of South Dakota — and Noem doesn’t support impeachment, it looks like it is back to the drawing board for the South Dakota GOP.
I don’t think Obama (or anyone else) should be too worried about South Dakota. I mean, let’s put it this way — the entire state of South Dakota has just one more seat in the United States House of Representatives than my garbage can does. Seriously! If, for some strange reason, my garbage can was granted a seat in the House there would be exactly as many members of Congress representing my garbage as there are representing the entire state of South Dakota.
(No offense to anybody from South Dakota who might hitchhike to Minnesota so they could use the internet there to read this.)
General Zachary Taylor, writing about his Commander-in-Chief, James K. Polk, to his son-in-law from Monterrey, Mexico during the Mexican-American War.
As the war with Mexico progressed and General Taylor’s success in the field as a commander brought him military glory and his name began being put forth as a potential Presidential contender in 1848, a jealous President Polk saw him as a rival. Even though Polk had pledged to only serve one term and had no interest in breaking that campaign promise, he wanted to handpick his successor and made numerous attempts to cause difficulties for Taylor, place obstacles in his way, and neuter his military authority. General Taylor recognized that the President’s actions were politically-motivated efforts to slander his reputation, force his resignation, and handicap his shot at becoming President.
Although Taylor had not previously had any ambition for a political career — in fact, he had never even cast a ballot in his life — Polk’s efforts backfired, Taylor continued to be seen as a war hero, and the General was motivated by the President’s actions to seek the Presidency in 1848. Taylor, of course, won the election and an exhausted Polk — an intense workaholic who believed that it was just short of a sin if a President sought leisure or took a vacation while in office — was stricken with illness as he returned home to Tennessee and died just three months after leaving office.
First of all, I have never, ever seen the appeal of Joe Lieberman. I thought he was a crappy Vice Presidential pick for Al Gore in 2000, and I think the main reason why Lieberman was his choice was because Gore saw it as a way to deflect some of the heat off of him that he thought he faced from being connected to Clinton during the Lewisnky scandal. Lieberman was one of the most vociferous detractors of Clinton from the Democratic side, and Gore wanted some of that moralistic rub.
As for a bipartisan ticket, there are always going to be difficulties with that. An independent run is going to be even more difficult because independent candidates have to be highly organized and get an early start in order to get ballot access in all states, which they need to have even a slight chance at winning. In 2000, McCain would have needed to run as an independent almost from 1999 instead of seeking the GOP nomination (remember, he actually beat George W. Bush in the New Hampshire Primary in 2000) if he wanted a shot at being on the ballot in every state during the general election. Lieberman likely wouldn’t have been a consideration in 2000 as an independent candidate for anything since he actually was the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee that year.
As for 2008, I think that McCain/Lieberman is an interesting idea and, in hindsight, anything would have probably been better for the GOP than Sarah Palin on Election Day. I just can’t envision Lieberman getting nominated by the Republicans in 2008. Maybe he could have been nominated in 2012 after he had spent more time as an independent, but he in 2008, he was the key to a Democratic majority in the Senate. Since he was caucusing with the Democrats as an independent (as was Bernie Sanders), the Dems had a 51-49 majority. If Lieberman caucused with the Republicans, he would have lost his seniority and his chairmanships, but the Senate would have been tied and the Republican Vice President Dick Cheney would have been a tiebreaker. That probably would have been held against him if McCain put him forward as his choice for a running mate.
But 2004 is definitely a possibility. Listen, it’s no secret that John Kerry and John Edwards was an awful ticket, and yet, Kerry almost won the 2004 election because of the backlash against President Bush. It was well-known that McCain and Bush were not close, especially after the 2000 Republican primaries where McCain was Bush’s only serious challenger and Bush’s campaign used some dirty tricks against McCain (and McCain’s family) in the South Carolina Primary. I think McCain could have been nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate by the Democrats at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I think the Kerry/McCain ticket would have picked up some appeal from the anti-war Republicans and some moderates, as well as some of those Nader voters. Although Nader didn’t win any Electoral votes, he did win over 400,000 popular votes and in an election as close as 2004 was, that could have shifted things enough in the really close battleground states to have been the difference in 2004 and swing the election to John Kerry.
Well, they weren’t really identified as such (like “Reagan Democrats), but there had to be some traditional Republican voters who supported LBJ in 1964 because he won 61% of the popular vote — it’s still the biggest margin of victory in the popular vote in American history.
Goldwater definitely took the GOP far to the right in 1964 and many moderate Republicans were unhappy with the prospect of voting for him. That — and the civil rights legislation and Great Society progams of LBJ’s Administration shifted the status of the Republican and Democratic parties from that point on. The states of the Solid South — which had been traditionally Democratic since before the Civil War and anti-Republican since the time of Abraham Lincoln — shifted to the Republican column with the appearance of more Conservative GOP candidates. Some of the blue-collar areas of the Northeast, Midwest, and Mountain West, which had been a stronghold of moderate or progressive Republicans for years began shifting to Democratic. When people talk of the two major parties “switching places”, this is what they normally mean. They didn’t necessarily switch places, but they evolved into different versions of what they previously were, largely in the area of social issues.
"LBJ Republicans" would have been traditional Republicans like those in Vermont and Maine who normally went with the GOP but were so turned off by Goldwater that the states not only went to LBJ in 1964 but they’re now solidly Democratic. "LBJ Republicans" could also be found in Midwestern and Mountain West states that had long had a history of electing progressive or moderate Republican Senators. Those Senators also played an integral part in passing LBJ’s civil rights and Great Society legislation that the Democratic Senators from the previously Solid South were vehemently opposed to. As the GOP became more Conservative, many of those progressive and moderate Republicans Senators either switched parties or ended up losing their seats to challengers as the population of their state shifted to the right and further away from their traditional ideology.