Emerging presidential contenders diminish hope for change

Whether we like it or not, the 2016 election cycle is looming. As politicians prepare to shape the next four years of our country, it is important to think about the election for our own benefit. At this stage in the game, four contenders are reasonably electable.

Jeb Bush seems to be the favorite on the Republican side. Of all the Republicans who have declared interest in a presidential bid, he is the most moderate, breaking with his party line by supporting immigration reform and Common Core standardization.

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His relatively moderate positions and willingness to criticize his own party may help sway moderates in a general election and make him a better-governing president, but unfortunately, will more than likely doom him in a primary stacked with far-right candidates in a party that seems to become more radical with every election.

He also lacks any meaningful foreign policy experience, meaning it will be difficult for him to escape the less-than-desirable legacy of his brother's administration. While I couldn't see myself voting for him, I'd imagine a Jeb Bush presidency wouldn't be as bad as many on the left may expect.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio round out the other Republican frontrunners. Both are establishment conservatives who don't stray from their party line in any way significant enough to differentiate them from other mainline Republicans. Cruz has made himself into a household name mainly by forcefully criticizing President Obama whenever the opportunity presents itself – with varying degrees of success.

He has a gift for appealing to his vocal conservative base, which responds very well to reactionary criticism of literally everything the president does (well, with one exception), but falls short on real policy proposals. He has the potential to be a rhetorical rock star in the primary, but without a presidential punching bag to run against, I don't see him as a viable campaign in the general election.

Rubio, meanwhile, has a similar problem, but lacks the fiery flair of his counterpart. He is the poster child of modern conservatism: He is more worried about the economy than the health of the planet, opposes the use of marijuana and votes mostly according to his hardline Catholic religious principles. He may be able to spin his Cuban heritage to give him credence when dealing with US-Cuba relations, but in general, he lacks foreign policy credentials — even compared to his Republican opponents.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, we have — inevitably — Hillary Clinton. As the presumptive nominee with no viable alternatives to criticize her record in the primary, she will remain unchallenged until the general election, which is rather unfortunate for the more liberal wing of the Democratic party.

As Obama's former Secretary of State, she has the foreign policy experience that all her potential opponents lack, but the right will inevitably hammer her with Benghazi, and many Democrats are concerned with her record as a war hawk. Domestically, her position on gay marriage only shifted in 2013.

What all this means is that we will have another Republican primary full of popular far-right candidates, from which a relatively centrist nominee will emerge, and another Democratic non-contest that will yield an unchallenged nominee. Unfortunately, no matter which way the election goes, it will result in four more years of gridlock and an establishment that remains either unwilling or unable to govern for the good of the people.

 

Tell the assistant photo editor if you're ready for Hillary at bmoffat@asu.edu or follow @bmoffatphotos on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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