The next presidential election in the United States is just fourteen months away, yet the battle is shaping up already. It is going to be an interesting fight between the Republican contender and President Obama, who is seeking reelection.
President Obama is in a very tough situation right now –an economy in shambles (14 million jobless Americans, representing a 9.1% unemployment rate).
The effects of such dismal economic conjuncture are beginning to be very plausible. Whenever an issue is not going well with the American people, the single most effective way to see that is by looking at the president’s approval rating. We saw that in G. W. Bush’s approval rating during and after the invasion of Iraq. As we speak, the president’s approval rating is 44%, the lowest it has ever been since he took office. No doubt, the slow economic recovery has something to do with that.
Will the economy create jobs at a faster pace than it has been to bring the unemployment rate down to at least 8% by November of 2012? That’s the buck of the challenge the president is facing right now. And the odds of him getting reelected with the economy as it is now are very slim. So time is of the essence for the president. Every second counts. Since he has his $447 billion jobs bill in Congress as we speak, let’s see if:
a) it will pass the congressional gridlock;
b) it is going to make that much of a difference in the economy.
Now, on the Republican side of the fence, whoever is going to win the primary, if that person does not distance himself or herself from the Tea Party, he or she will lose the election easy to Obama; the American people are not out to vote in office anyone carrying the colors of the Tea Party “extremists.”
The Tea Party represents the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. From experience, the American people don’t usually vote political “extremists” in power –whether it be liberals or Tea Partiers. The reason for that is because the independents are often the ones to call the winner in presidential elections.
If you have been closely following American politics, you can see that no liberals have ever won the presidency in recent history. Let’s take President Obama, for instance. In Illinois, he was a stark liberal. But for him to win nationally, he had got to move to the middle.
The liberal agenda can only appeal to the base of the Democratic Party. The same can be said about the Tea Party agenda. It can only appeal to the base of the Republican Party. So for the purpose of primary election politics, liberal talking points and those of the Tea Party can only get politicians to win primary elections. That’s it. But should they win general elections, they must move to the center.
I think Mitt Romney is playing smart and safe when he refuses to be called the “Tea Party candidate.” He knows such label, once sticks, will be a heavy weight on his shoulders to prevent him from winning the general election. Right now, since Michele Bachmann is losing the Tea Party endorsement, Rick Perry is now emerging as the “Tea Party candidate.” This could be beneficial to him in the primary, but not in the general election.
In all earnest, between Perry and Romney, as a Democrat, I would rather see President Obama run against Perry. Romney will be more of a challenge to Obama than Perry will. With Perry’s fierce attack on social security (during the Republican debate at the Reagan Library on Wednesday, September 07, 2011, he called social security a “Ponzi scheme”), I don’t see how he is going to convince the American people that he is the candidate they should vote for to replace Obama, not when, according to the Pew Research Center opinion poll released on June 07, 2011, “an overwhelming majority (87%) [of the American people] says that Social Security has been good for the country.”
Furthermore, there is a strife going on inside the Republican Party, which in my opinion is worsening the situation. There are the Tea Party Republicans (Michele Bachmann, Rand Paul, etc…) and the establishment Republicans (Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, etc…). The Karl Rove wing of the Republican Party has been working tirelessly to dim down the influence of the Tea Party which they believe is taking the Party of Lincoln to the far right of the spectrum. And if they let that happen, it will be very difficult for the Party to win the presidency. That’s exactly what the establishment Republicans are afraid of, and that’s what they are trying to prevent.
So it is a good think for Obama to see the Tea Party embracing Rick Perry, currently in the lead, according to the most recent polls out there. If Perry wins the Republican primary, he will have to make a 180-degree about-face to the center -if he wants to win the election. And when that happens, you know it will infuriate the Tea Partiers, which may cause them to stay home on Election Day. So needless to say, the Republican Party is in big trouble with Rick Perry as their candidate in line to face Obama in the general presidential election.