Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Turn on the TV—Election 2016 Begins

November 10th, 2014
The Prize--1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  (www.whitehouse.gov)

The Prize–1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (www.whitehouse.gov)

Watching the Cowboys and Jaguars play yesterday live from London, England, I was intrigued by the little things you don’t often see or hear when NFL games are played in the United States.  While the Wembley Stadium field looked like any other American football field, it was clearly softer after days of English rain and some of the music playing in the background wasn’t what you ordinarily hear here. 

Sometime in the second half, an advertisement appeared that was also quite different.  And it had nothing to do with the United Kingdom. It was an ad imploring Republicans and Democrats to compromise and work together for the common good. Sponsored by a nonprofit foundation, it was what I imagine will be just one of many messages we’ll hear right through the closing of the polls in November 2016.

The big prize that evening will be the election of the 45th president of the United States, and the race for that coveted title is already underway whether we like it or not.

Election 2016 really started in earnest several months ago when Hillary Clinton released her long extremely boring memoir about her years as Secretary of State. At the same time, not so publicly, Republicans with every shade of hope imaginable visited any fundraising chicken dinner in Iowa and New Hampshire that would have them.  This time around, it actually helped them that the Senate races in those states were actually competitive so it wouldn’t be nearly as obvious as to what they were up to as it usually is.

With the midterms behind us, the political candidates in both parties don’t need to hide and pretend anymore.  Although they’re unlikely to deny their intentions they also won’t announce them either.  Instead, they will proclaim their utmost devotion to their current job but note that they put country first and if the country needs them they’ll reluctantly consider the possibility.

Over the next several months the real behind the scenes fun begins with potential candidates in both parties signing up potential campaign staff, organizing support among party faithful in every county in every swing state (even the now famous Sullivan County in New Hampshire), and hitting up potential donors for much needed campaign cash. For the presidential aspirants, it’s both nerve racking and invigorating. Even in their darkest campaign moments, they can always imagine a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in their honor to keep them going.

Every presidential campaign has its own intrigue and drama and this one is no different. Honestly, at this stage, anyone who thinks they know what will ultimately happen doesn’t know squat.  If you don’t believe it, just think back to 2007 when all the safe money was on Hillary Clinton on the Democrats’ side to win the nomination with the Republicans a bit more up in the air.  Still, when Texas Governor Rick Perry jumped into the race he was instantly anointed the frontrunner.  As you may recall, that poll position lasted about six weeks.

So if the election were held today, it would be Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Mike Pence, or (in a pinch) Mitt Romney for the Republicans.  That assumes, of course, that a Republican woman doesn’t throw her hat in the ring like Susana Martinez or Nikki Haley.

The funny thing is, of course, it may very well turn out to be none of these people on either side.  That’s what makes our political system both fascinating and frustrating, and whether we like it or not . . . get ready . . . it’s already begun.


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