By Jason Cox
With this year’s midterm elections finally ending in the Louisiana Senate runoff, and the next day for “heading to the polls” nearly two years out, you’d probably expect that the barrage of endless political chatter would die down. You’d be wrong. The end of 2014 only signaled the start of the 2016 presidential race; now is the time for hiring staff, schmoozing with donors, and calling in political favors from those a prospective candidate supported in the midterms. While this certainly represents the Republican primary battle, something odd and incredibly troubling is transpiring on the Democratic side of the aisle.
What if someone told you that the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President was pro-War, an opponent of civil liberties, and in the pocket of Wall Street? What if that same person then told you this candidate has absolutely no serious opposition in the primary? The response should be one of ridicule (unless of course, one has really been paying attention). After all, the Democratic Party prides itself on its opposition to the reckless foreign entanglements of President Bush, promotes itself as a champion of social freedoms, and is fierce in its rhetoric on restraining Wall Street excess. Surprisingly, this isn’t a joke.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is outpolling all potential rivals by devastatingly large numbers. Her last run for the Presidency was largely torpedoed by Barack Obama due to her decision to vote for the Authorization of Military Force to invade Iraq in 2002. During her time as Secretary, Clinton was one of the most hawkish voices in the administration, favoring military intervention no matter how disastrous the actual or potential consequences were. She has since spoken favorably about NSA surveillance of phone records, and several major players in the financial sector have stated that she will be their preferred candidate, especially if the Republican Party opts for a more populist candidate. Spearheading Clinton’s entry into 2016 is “Ready for Hillary,” a Super PAC furthering an image of inevitability for her rise to the Presidency.
The Republican Party has an exhausting list of nearly 20 potential Presidential candidates, only one of whom, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, has so far dropped his name out of the running. Polling is fairly evenly split, as well as erratic, with no clear frontrunner to be found on the popularity or donor platform. On the Democratic side, candidate and donor alike are waiting on a decision by Clinton on whether or not to enter the race, largely due to the gargantuan task of taking on the former Secretary of State. Jim Webb, former Senator from Virginia and former Secretary of the Navy, is the first to launch an exploratory committee to run for the Democratic nomination. Some have suggested he has the opportunity to challenge Clinton by appealing to remaining conservative-leaning Democrats, whom Clinton fairs the worst among; particularly in the first caucus state of Iowa. Another serious contender would be Vice President Joe Biden, who seemingly has little to lose in trying for a third Presidential bid, but still polls extremely far behind Clinton.
Others are encouraging a challenge from the left, either from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), or perhaps Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma,) an extremely popular figure in the progressive wing of the party. Despite the significant buzz around her potential to challenge Clinton, Warren has denied she will run, and few signs suggest she is seriously considering a bid. Current Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley seems to be eyeing a bid, but is likely to wait for a decision by Clinton before entering the ring, with the same going for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as well.
Democratic Party voters, as well as the American public as a whole, deserve a choice in who represents them in the White House. Democracy doesn’t properly function when the only options available come from a select few families, and we should be allowed to opt for someone whose last name isn’t Bush or Clinton. Our candidates should face the proper scrutiny for their record and positions, and the primary process is one of the most effective means of doing so. We should hope that someone is brave enough to mount that challenge, and ensure that the options we get, are the options we want.