With one and half years to go until the US presidential elections, it’s already time for candidates to start declaring themselves. That’s what happens when the most important job on earth is up for grabs. All candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties will first have to fight to secure their party’s nomination, before trying to convince the country as a whole. Like always, the campaign will feature obscene overspending (something I’d like to write about sometime), and ridiculous over-analysis of every statement by the media. That’s actually something I don’t mind, as I’m a massive nerd for following the American elections. As we take a look at the main candidates at the early stage, you might get a glimpse at why this is the greatest show in politics.
As other candidates announce their campaign, I’ll add them to the list, which will be available at the blog’s header.
The Democratic Party – “It’s going to be Hilary isn’t it?”
Hilary Clinton – Pros: The clear frontrunner for the Democrat candidacy, and the election as a whole. She’s got the experience, she’s got the popularity, and she’s got the money. The fact that everyone considers her the best candidate will also add to her momentum. Cons: On the other hand the fact that she’s been in politics so long could work against her, as Americans are a bit sick and tired of politicians. There are plenty of controversies that could pop up and ruin her day. It’s also not really clear what she stands for, as she seems to go with whatever will make her popular. Who’s the real Hilary?
Bernie Sanders – Pros: Not technically a Democrat but an Independent, Sanders is the more leftist Senator by far – which makes him centre left in the rest of the world. He’s socially progressive, supports universal healthcare, and rails against corporate and upper class greed. He doesn’t hide what he stands for, and he’ll force Clinton to make her position clear during their competition for the primaries. Cons: He’s a bit too far left to have a great chance. While Americans may support many of his ideas, he’s out of place in Washington, and the Republicans will treat him like the second coming of Lenin. I really do hope he gets far though.
Martin O’Malley – Pros: With experience outside of the Senate as a governor and mayor, he’ll be able to build on a good reputation. He’ll also be able to appeal to Democrats who don’t want a Clinton, but aren’t ready for Bernie. Cons: That city he was mayor of? Baltimore. Many there blame his tough on crime policy for feeding the discrimination that led to the recent riots, and this threatens to turn his legacy against him. He might also struggle to distinguish himself from Clinton.
The Republican Party – “Who can be the most conservative?”
Ted Cruz – Pros: Cruz is somewhat of an outsider in Washington, and even his own party sort of hates him – which could work in his favour. He’s also an excellent public speaker, and skilled at debate. Compromise is a dirty word, and he won’t divert from his vision of America as a God-honouring shining light of tiny government and freedom for all. Cons: This vision is too extreme for middle America. He really doesn’t want the federal government involved in anything at all, is very socially conservative and seems driven by ideology. He won’t win over any undecided voters. Oh, he was also born in Canada.
Rand Paul – Pros: He’s another political outsider, and is a Libertarian, which means he’s all about personal freedom, states’ rights, small government, and limited overseas involvement. This last point – and his less negative stance on pot – has attracted some younger votes. Cons: Again, he’s incredibly socially conservative, making it hard to win moderates. ‘Personal freedom’ doesn’t extend to same-sex marriage, or the right to ever have an abortion. He’s also waffling a bit back on forth on how libertarian he is, which can come across as unprincipled.
Marco Rubio – Pros: He can appeal to Hispanic voters (he’s Hispanic, and open to immigration reform), his party likes him, and he’s not quite as extreme as the others. Cons: He dropped his reform ideas as soon as it became apparent that it wasn’t going to fly with conservative Republicans. While he might be less extreme, his positions on foreign policy in the Middle East are just as worrying as the other candidates, and he’s still a strong social conservative.
Mike Huckabee – Pros: He did well in 2008, finishing second, and has built up a name for himself as a right-wing media figure. He also won praise as the governor of Arkansas prior to his 2008 run for president. This role as governor will mean he avoids the taint of a Congress that is extremely unpopular. He also plays bass in a band. Cons: Yet again, extremely socially conservative on issues like gay marriage (never), abortion (almost never) and general morality. It’s hard to say whether these are really the issues non-diehard Republicans get fired up about. Plus, I have to say ‘Huckabee’ isn’t really the most presidential name.
Rick Santorum – Pros: He has actual experience in the Senate, and has run previously for President, which will help recognition in a crowded field. He’s also more of a working class candidate, rather than upper class. He also has a stand-out sweater vest. Cons: Do I even have to say it? Super socially conservative, and he’s known for extremely harsh comments on homosexuality. It’s hard to imagine Santorum making it that far.
Lindsay Graham – Pros: Graham has long experience in the Senate, and as opposed to many of the other candidates he hasn’t alienated large parts of the Republican party. He’s also willing to work with Democrats, and is more open to compromise. Cons: He’s running as a hardline candidate on foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, and has called for numerous interventions. It’s unclear how eager the American public is to jump back into fighting in the Middle East.
Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker are also expected to run, and are less socially conservative. More information to follow.