Thursday, December 10, 2015

Arthur Answers, Part 1: Prez and Veep candidates

It’s time to start answering the questions posed in this month’s Ask Arthur series. Today’s question comes from Roger Green, who asks:

“Simple questions: who will be the Republican nominee for President in 2016? Who will be the VP candidate? And if Hillary's the Democrats' pick, who will be HER veep pick?”

First things first, and about the first part: No one has ANY idea who the Republican nominee will be, and anyone who expresses certainty is spreading bovine excrement, and nothing more. Maybe they’re promoting an agenda, maybe they’re exhibiting wishful thinking, who knows, but no one has the slightest idea: It’s all a guess.

So, my own guess, based on current polling, observation and a hunch, is that it will be Donald Trump with Ted Cruz as his running mate.

I say that because both are hated by the Republican establishment, and both have fanatical supporters among the Republican Party’s base, the extremists who will actually select the presidential nominee. Cruz is the only major Republican figure who has never criticised Trump, no matter how crazy or extreme Trump’s statements have been. When asked about Trump’s “exclude all Muslims” pledge, Cruz said, “I do not believe the world needs my voice added to that chorus of critics.”

This is not to ignore Cruz’s own racism, but rather to underscore that both he and Trump are sort of anti-Republican Republicans, both have appeal to the party’s base, and partly because they’re anti-establishment. The fact that the party establishment hates them both only strengthens their support among the party’s base—as, by the way, the Republican establishment and the mainstream newsmedia condemning Trump’s racist bigotry will only help him with his party’s base—but that’s another subject entirely.

The other dozen candidates still in the race are either completely unknown (Pataki, Gilmore, Kasich), have personal problems (Rubio, Christie, Fiorina) or are absolute nutjobs (Santorum, Huckabee, Carson), or have an utterly incompetent campaign—Jeb! (just don’t say) Bush. None of the other candidates look likely to be able to stop Trump.

In addition to being anti-establishment, the successful candidate will have to appeal to the frothing base of the Republican Party—with its seething racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, paranoia, and religious extremism. To be nominated, a candidate will have to appeal to a majority of those attitudes; the only one Trump doesn’t, er, trumpet, is homophobia, but he’s at least made a stab at all the rest; Cruz has hit all of them (his main problem with Republican voters is that he’s Hispanic).

And, one final word: When I talk about Republican voters above, I’ve tried to be clear that I’m talking about the party’s base, which is far more extremist than the majority of voters who call themselves Republican. However, the base ALWAYS votes in primaries, and this year will almost certainly decide who the nominee is, unless more rational Republicans participate in the selection process, and I’ve seen no evidence yet that they will. However, if—and that’s a colossally HUGE if—somewhat more rational Republican voters do participate, that could change everything. At the moment, I just don’t see that happening.

As for the Democrats, I should say first that I still expect Hillary to be the nominee. If she is, she’ll need to select someone who has absolutely nothing to do with the Obama Administration in order to solidify her identity as a separate person.

So, first, she could pick one of her rivals.

Picking Bernie Sanders could, theoretically, unite the party, but, as I’ve said many times, Bernie’s support is mainly outside the Democratic Party, people who will walk away from the party if the nominee isn’t 110% pure (in their eyes). I don’t know that picking Sanders would help her, since the Bernie supporters who hate Hillary would still do so and probably go support Jill Stein instead. It would also be a huge target for the Republican spin machine and all its billions in Super Pac expenditures.

Hillary could pick Martin O’Malley, who will also have been tested by voters, but since he’s always a distant third, it’s hard to see what he could add. I think that’s a non-starter. On the other hand, he also provides less of a target when the Republican spin machine is gunning for Clinton.

Another possibility is Elizabeth Warren, but aside from the fact that she’s shown zero interest in such a thing, she offers nothing apart from the enthusiasm of her fans. Also, two women would scare the hell out of the rightwing, maybe enough to get them out to vote to help Trump win. Some—moderates, Democrats—would see this as ideological balance, with the progressive Warren balancing the more conservative Clinton—that is NOT how it would be spun, even by the mainstream newsmedia.

My guess—and this is nothing more than a guess—is that she will pick someone none of us have thought of, perhaps someone we may not even have heard of before the whispers start. I also feel that her choice will be an Hispanic man. Hispanics are an increasingly important part of the Democratic base—helped, if we’re honest, by the Republican Party’s racism and xenophobia toward Hispanics. This could be a choice to energise the Democratic base—which is larger than the Republican base—as well as moderate independents, many of whom are also Hispanic.

Now, if Bernie wins the nomination, I have absolutely no idea who he’d pick—no guess, no hunch. However, it would have to be someone more conservative and younger than he is if he’s to appeal the general electorate. However, would that sort of choice piss of his own base of support enough to drive them away from voting Democratic? I don’t know the answer to that, either.

So, the short answer to Roger’s question is that I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. But, like them, I have my opinions, which I may very well end up changing before too much more time has passed.

It's not too late to ask a question! Just leave a comment on this post.

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