After the 2008 election it appeared that the Republican Party was headed for irrelevance if not extinction. Born out of hatred for the new President Barack Obama – and in the opinion of many including yours truly – more than a dash of racism along came the Tea Party movement. The Republicans latched onto it like a drowning man grasping something floating on the surface of the water. The question I want to explore today is what happens when the object of their hate is gone.
The Republican/Tea Party can frame the 2014 election as running against the Obama surrogates and sympathizers if they choose; but what do they do in 2016? The fact of the matter is that President Obama will never be on the ballot again. The hatred of Obama is the glue that keeps the Tea Party adhered to the Republican Party. With Obama gone they need another villain to unite them.
If Hillary Clinton runs it won’t be a heavy lift for the Right Wing machine to resurrect their dormant, decades’ old campaign to portray her as the devil in a pants suit. However, the Tea Party is much more racist than chauvinist. If Biden is the nominee it may be possible to make the case that a Biden presidency would be a third Obama term; but, with Joe being the unique individual he is, that will not be easy. The nightmare for Republicans is that someone other than Clinton or Biden is the nominee. It is early in the game, but at this point everyone who is being mentioned as a possible Democratic nominee is white so the race card won’t be playable. While Hillary is not the only woman in the conversation; again that is not the galvanizing factor on the Right that race is.
The money people on the Republican side do not show any real evidence of racism but they need the votes of the racists to have any chance of winning. If those voters are less likely to show up the money people will be less likely to invest.
The obvious strategy for Republicans to pursue is to run an exciting candidate who will motivate their base in and of his own actions. (Note I did not write his or hers on purpose – I am realistic). I simply don’t think they have anyone viable to run in the first place; however I admit my thinking is clouded by my political viewpoint. Currently the most exciting candidate they appear to have is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Interestingly Christie was not invited to speak at next month’s CPAC convention in Washington. This is an illustration of the Tea Party’s lack of political acumen which has already cost the Republicans several Senate seats.
If the 2016 race were a baseball game the umpire wouldn’t have said, “Play ball,” yet, but it is fun to look ahead. Who the candidates will be is still very much a mystery but the Republicans’ need to demonize the Democratic nominee is very, very real.
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