We Can't Wait Until 2016
The early tremors of the 2016 presidential campaigns are already being felt. Rubio, Jindal, and others are positioning themselves to try once again to take the White House in four years. Republicans are basing their hopes on the fantasy of a much more economically devastated America coming to its collective senses and repudiating Obamanomics (including ObamaCare) and voting to install a "grown-up" in the Oval Office to lead the country.
Why "fantasy"? Well, what evidence is there, currently, that leads anyone to believe that four years from now there will even be a United States of America in the form that Republicans envision? Not only is Obamanomics a problem, but the creeping (or perhaps "galloping" would be a more accurate word) statism that Obama is sponsoring will potentially last long after he is gone from office.
Couldn't happen, you say? Think back some seventy-five or eighty years and look at the statist New Deal policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Have they gone away? Or have they metastasized into more and more virulent forms that we now ignore as being simply part of the background of life in this country?
Things that were unthinkable prior to FDR's and the Progressive movement's power-grabs are taken for granted by the vast majority today. The Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are nowhere contemplated in the Constitution. In many ways, they were designed and implemented to effectively nullify the 9th and 10th Amendments. Yet today, only a small minority of our citizens even recognizes the problem, and even fewer speak out to fight it.
But the media, both the mainstream and alternative media, seem to be fixated on the 2016 presidential contenders. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden on the Democrat Party side (with the possible addition of a John Kerry quixotic second attempt) are frequently mentioned, and Rubio, Jindal, Nikki Haley, and Susana Martinez are viewed as possible candidates for the Republicans.
Are we supposed to just sit and suck our thumbs until 2016? Will some Republican's slim chance of defeating the Clinton machine be all that we can hope for?
The midterm election in 2014 will have either 19 or 20 Democrat Party senators coming up for re-election. The exact number, even excluding the deaths or resignations of any currently sitting senators between now and 2014, is not certain, since the nomination of John Kerry as Secretary of State leaves party control of his seat to the whims of the good people of Massachusetts in a special election.
But there are 20 theoretically possible seats for Republicans to pick up in the Senate. Of those 20, realistically there are seven or eight that might be picked up -- if candidates start campaigning today. The possible pickups:
Alaska. Senator Mark Begich defeated the late Senator Ted Stevens by only 48% to 47%, and with the scandal of the prosecutorial misconduct that sealed Ted Stevens's defeat, Begich should have a hard time claiming that he's squeaky-clean and deserves re-election.
Louisiana. Senator Mary Landrieu, of "Louisiana Purchase" fame, won her last election with a majority totaling only 52% of the vote. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, is very popular, and Louisiana voters have come to recognize the ineptitude of Democratic legislators, mayors, and governors from their performance during Hurricane Katrina, even ignoring the mainstream media's constant refrain of "It's all George Bush's fault."
Michigan. Senator Carl Levin is a six-term "old bull" in his party, and although normally he would be considered a sure bet, Rich Snyder, Michigan's current governor, is a popular politician in a state that is turning slowly away from the crony capitalism of a union-dominated state. Governor Snyder's term expires in 2014, and although he can run for re-election, he might be persuaded to raise his sights from saving his state to saving the nation.
Minnesota. Senator Al Franken was elected six years ago amid countless court battles and recount after recount after yet more recounts. Although he won by the slimmest of margins (officially, Franken won by only 312 votes), it would seem that there is a potential pickup for Republicans here if they can sell a narrative that Franken slid by former Senator Norm Coleman by a hair's breadth and hasn't done much for the people of Minnesota while he's been in the Senate.
New Jersey. Senator Frank Lautenberg has not announced whether or not he intends to run for re-election. Senator Lautenberg will be 90 years old in 2014. Democrat and Newark mayor Cory Booker has already announced his plans to run for Lautenberg's seat in the Senate. If Governor Chris Christie could, like Michigan Governor Rich Synder, be persuaded to change his goal from saving New Jersey to saving the nation, he would more than likely win against either Lautenberg or Booker.
Oregon. Senator Jeff Merkley won election by only a plurality of votes cast (49%), not a majority. While running, Merkley was endorsed in December 2007 by the Oregon AFL-CIO, the state's largest labor federation. The union's leaders cited Merkley's 97% record of voting "in the interests of working families." With union endorsements carrying less weight and with changes in public perceptions of unions deteriorating, this might also provide a window of opportunity for Republicans.
Massachusetts. Although Senator Scott Brown lost to Elizabeth Warren, the nomination of John Kerry gives Brown a chance for a metaphorical rematch. Brown lost to Warren in November but still managed to increase his vote total from 1,168,107 in 2010 to 1,458,048 in 2012 -- an increase of nearly 290,000 votes, or a 24.8% increase from 2010 to 2012. An increase of that magnitude, in a deep blue state like Massachusetts, labels Brown as a very strong candidate.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Senator Kay Hagen of North Carolina, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia might also be vulnerable.
If Republicans were to net six seats in 2014, Harry Reid would lose his position of Senate majority leader and end his stranglehold on power in the Senate. With Republicans holding the majority in the House and the speakership, the Congress would be in a much better position to stop Barack Obama's ideological drive toward essentially transforming America into a statist wonderland.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter. Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.