Columns, Opinion

RYAN: 2016: The Liberal Dream

I’m already annoyed with all of the 2016 presidential election coverage. Was it this bad in 2010? I was only a high school sophomore, but I think I would remember drowning in articles, tweets, videos and news stories on all the potential candidates. I am not prepared for another two years of this.

Heaven forbid we focus on U.S. President Barack Obama’s last two years in office, as uneventful as they will probably be. Let’s not pay attention to the full docket the U.S. Supreme Court has this year. It’ll be hearing cases on religious freedom, Obamacare, same-sex marriage and the death penalty. Not like any of that is important.

Instead, let’s focus on the presidential horse race that everyone with an ounce of political ambition seems to be running in. According to Politics1, some 30 candidates have either expressed interest in running or formed an official exploratory committee. Twenty-five of those candidates are Republicans. With announcements just around the corner, this media frenzy won’t be over anytime soon. The only potential upside? 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the Democrats.

If you’re a Republican, this might not be the news you were looking for. However, at least you’ll have your pick of the litter come primary season. Even if only half of the interested candidates decide to run, The Washington Post reports that it will still be the largest field in modern history (tied with 2012’s 12 Republican candidates). The list includes everyone from 2012 Republican candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to less prominent party members such as U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Comparatively, the Democratic field is much smaller. In fact, I (and every liberal political columnist with half a brain) am going to argue that there’s really only one true contender: former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Huffington Post aggregated recent data from multiple polls, and as of this week, Clinton received 62 percent of the vote among Democratic candidates. In second place, with 12.3 percent, is our own U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. I would sell a kidney or two to work on a Warren for President campaign, but that’s beside the point because Warren has denied any potential run again and again. After Warren comes U.S. Vice President Joe Biden with 9.6 percent. After him, it’s a toss up for the incredibly irrelevant fourth place.

The Ready for Hillary Political Action Committee has spent the last two years building grassroots support and a donor basis for a Clinton 2016 campaign. They’ve toured across the country, raising support and highlighting Clinton as the clear candidate. Compare this to the Republicans’ wide-open primary contests, and you’ll see why I’m excited. Also, Sarah Palin is talking about running, and I miss Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live.

Barring any major scandals, the columnist says to herself, tempting fate to prove her wrong, Clinton will sail through the primary season relatively unscathed. On the other hand, the Republican primary season will become the reality TV show we all guiltily indulge in. The candidates cover the entire spectrum from super scary conservative to general election-worthy moderates. There will be mud slinging and a fight for every microphone and sound bite. There will also be a bloody battle for campaign funds.

Regardless of perception, the Republican Party does not have a bottomless pool of corporate campaign funds. Everyone will be fighting for the same checks. The safe bets will be on candidates with viability in the general election (read: moderates), such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Romney, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. However, they will still have to fight for support in the early months, should they all run. While the right wing of the party battles for delegates, the moderates will be in combat over major donors’ support.

If the Republicans spend the entire primary season fighting each other, they won’t have much of a chance in November. While they’re still campaigning for delegates, Clinton will be organizing and fundraising for the general election. Much like the circus of 2012, a new Republican candidate will be leading each week while Hillary watches from the sidelines, unscathed.

Presidential elections are the epitome of American political excitement. Everything matters in an election year. It just seems that election season is starting earlier and earlier. As the Republican candidates head into the primary season, they need to keep the long-term goal in mind. If they want a Republican in the White House, all campaigns must be organized and controlled.

But knowing American politics, this won’t happen. The Republican candidate will head to the convention a little beat up after one too many fights. Meanwhile, Clinton, facing no serious opponents, will have the opportunity to fundraise and organize for the general election. It might be time for the Republicans to get Ready for Hillary.

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