Do Republicans Win Without Hillary?

Well, well, well…the political winds sure did shift awfully fast.  It’s coming to pass that Hillary Clinton’s coronation as Democratic presidential nominee boils down to her being “Queen for a Day” -- again.  Hillary has run afoul of herself -- that is, being a Clinton.  Her furtive, unethical, and, likely, illegal actions are just the weapons the left and cynical Democrats are using to lay-low the charm-challenged Hillary.

But as Hillary’s email imbroglio and foreign monies troubles help stealthy packs of left-wingers and calculating Democrats to drag her down, Republicans must ask: “Would our party nominee be better off with Hillary or another Democrat?”  That’s more than an arm-chair debate.  The Democrats desperately need a fresh face, far more than they did in 2008 when John McCain campaigned in the shadow of a cratering economy and war weariness.

Republicans are upbeat about capturing the White House in November 2016.  But the presidential election is almost two years away.  Republican optimism needs to be tempered -- appreciably.  Though many voters will be weary of eight years of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. has changed. 

The 1980s (the Reagan Era) is a distant memory -- or no memory at all -- for many voters.  So, there are generational and demographic changes to consider.  Another, the nation has been polarizing politically since the late 1970s.  An outgrowth of that polarization is the “Red States-Blue States” divide, which provides Democrats and Republicans with near certain bases in the Electoral College even before a vote is cast.  Fewer states are in play and that holds true for 2016.  The political terrain tilts slightly toward the Democrats.    

Yet another consideration is events that have yet to unfold and, so, can’t be accounted for… events that could redound to the benefit or detriment of either or both parties. 

A final -- and no small -- consideration is whom the parties nominate.  The Hillary takedown by the left and Democratic insiders is no accident.  Democrats need a nominee whose baggage is lighter and can distance himself or herself from Barack Obama. 

The distancing is practical, not ideological.  Democrats learned long ago that George McGovern clones are losers.  Any serious Democratic nominee will move to the center. That means, liberal Martin O’Malley moves to the middle.   Kentucky governor Steve Beshear -- discussed as presidential timber -- already has a centrist tag. 

But the activist left -- the Democratic Party’s core -- doesn’t want any Democrat in the White House.  It wants to elect an ideological heir to Obama -- a left-winger who will continue to push its agenda to “transform” America.  The darling of the left is Elizabeth Warren.  As Hillary sinks, the Warren drive will begin in earnest.  The main stream media will get with it.  Warren will be portrayed as a centrist.    

Wrote H.A. Goodman at the Huffington Post on March 6:

Warren is a fresh, new, and vibrant politician whose integrity has never been questioned. She's a greater force in the Democratic Party than Barack Obama was two years before he became president and Democrats everywhere respect her focus on middle class issues, as well as her economic prowess. If you vote Elizabeth Warren in 2016, you'll know that Jeb Bush won't have a treasure chest of political arrows to throw at this member of the Senate banking, housing, and urban affairs committees. [Emphasis added]

As to political baggage, Goodman added:

Most importantly, Elizabeth Warren can be the foil to any GOP dart board with Hillary Clinton's face; Senator Warren doesn't have a Benghazi or Whitewater in her past. The Massachusetts Senator also doesn't have a potentially grave offense linked to emails.

Who the Republicans nominate matters greatly, and that depends on which GOP faction prevails, establishment Republicans or conservatives.  A crowded Republican field makes the outcome of the RINO-conservative battles problematic. 

Republicans need a 2016 nominee who can smartly contrast with the Democrat, not blur differences.  A GOP nominee can’t be regarded as fringy, either.  But how that nominee moves to the middle matters critically (think Reagan).

Republicans need to resurrect the “vision thing.”  Voters need compelling reasons why Republicans bring something to the table that’s different and better for their families and themselves.  A GOP presidential nominee who’s singing the “Me, too” tune is a goner before leaving the gate. 

The establishment GOP would argue that given changes in the electorate, the party’s presidential nominee must soften contrasts with the Democrat, relying on voters’ weariness with political fights and Washington gridlock.  “Americans,” say RINOs, “want “hands-across-the-aisle” politics and “problem-solving.” 

RINO election strategies failed in 2008 and 2012.  What critical constituencies do the McConnell-Boehner led GOP congressional majorities persuade or excite?  Where are congressional Republicans advancing better approaches to the nation’s challenges?  Boehner and McConnell capitulations on critical issues don’t exactly motive base conservatives or make Republicans standout.      

An establishment Republican nominee has dim chances of winning the White House in 2016 unless Hillary manages to gain the Democratic nomination.  Hillary won’t be the Democratic nominee; the left is making sure of it.

Jeb Bush, by virtue of his name, has already worn out his welcome.  Bush may not entirely share the Bush family’s distaste for “vision,” but an issues mix that includes amnesty and doesn’t prioritize repealing Obamacare epitomizes a GOP presidential candidate least likely to energize base conservatives or appeal to voters seeking real change.        

Wrote Richard Viguerie at his Conservative HQ website on March 6:

[I]f Jeb Bush is the nominee, as the US Chamber of Commerce-allied Republican establishment is investing over $100 million to assure, then having to campaign on policy issues and his positions on the great questions of the day would be nearly impossible, because Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton hold nearly identical positions on several of the key issues that will decide the 2016 election for grassroots limited government constitutional conservatives.

I would counter that, at the end of the day, Bush and Warren would be closely positioned because Democrats won’t field a candidate who campaigns explicitly on the left’s aims.  Derangement would afflict Democrats if Bernie Sanders carries their standard, but he won’t.  Elizabeth Warren shares Sanders’ socialism, but can be packaged as a moderate hankering for fairness and compassion.  The GOP nominee needs to present conservative ideas and solutions reasonably while laying bear the leftism that underlies the Democrat’s rhetoric. 

The 2016 presidential contest needs to be about ideas, principles, and vision.  A conservative nominee with the right temperament, skills, and experience can win that contest.             

A big caveat about Warren.  She hasn’t been tested in a presidential contest.  She may melt faster than quicksilver.  Yet the Democrats’ playbook is the same whoever they nominate. 

Hillary was the establishment GOP’s best hope, but with her and her baggage going, Washington Republicans haven’t much to offer voters.  Arguing that Republicans really aren’t against big government but will run it better won’t rouse voters anymore than at any time in the past.  And if that’s the GOP theme, count on another Democrat in the White House in 2016.