NEW CASTLE, Pa., April 26, 2015 — The 2016 presidential election is under way. Unfortunately the political theater of 2015 will only filter honest candidates out of the race while suppressing serious discussions on public policy.
The way elected officials interact with each other and their constituents impacts the quality of their governance. The self-serving agendas, partisan conflicts and personal attacks that define what most Americans consider politics drive voter apathy and disengagement.
Both parties have earned negative monikers. The Democrats are being framed as the party of government overreach, while Republicans have earned a reputation as the party of government dysfunction.
Since 2008, Republicans have spent their time, effort and political clout blocking Democratic efforts. Democrats, in turn, have pursued a legislative agenda that has failed to live up to expectation, to say the least.
The strategies for 2016 are starting to emerge.
Democrats are following the lead of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, emphasizing economic development and equality for all. They are betting that this platform will bring the party a win in 2016.
Republicans have their own strategy, with the same goal in mind.
On April 23, infamous George W. Bush political strategist and adviser Karl Rove penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Congress Is Finally Back On Track,” arguing that Congress is “finally acting as the Constitution prescribes.”
While this commentary may initially draw giggles from the American public, by some measures, there is truth to Rove’s argument.
If this is an emerging GOP strategy for victory in 2016, the American people can expect to see far less disruptive behavior from GOP legislators. They may even compromise on some major Democratic policies that congressional Republicans have spent years blocking.
What the American people will not see is a GOP willing to face America’s most critical issues, which require actual tough choices and sacrifice.
The goal of the emerging GOP strategy will be to avoid controversy and critical questions like “what are your solutions?” and “Who will sacrifice what for whose gain?” Democrats will, in turn, discredit themselves by offering ideas and solutions that have weaknesses Republicans can attack.
The message will be that the GOP represents functional, nonintrusive government; thus government fully controlled by Republicans will lead to less government dysfunction and intrusion.
This message will resonate with loyal Republicans and motivate GOP turnout on Election Day. Unfortunately, It will also deprive the American people of a substantive debate on a number of critical issues. Republicans will be essentially saying, “vote us into office and see what we have planned.” In tandem, they will slander Democrats for actually discussing potential policy solutions that work while relying on the same old, over-simplified “solutions” that tend to create more problems for more people than they solve.
The American people do not need a political strategy from Republicans or Democrats. They need honest campaigns with candidates willing to risk their chance at elected office by telling Americans what they plan to do in office. More importantly, the United States needs an honest discussion of America’s problems and the costs of potential solutions.
In 2016, the American people need presidential candidates to mount real campaigns, not just empty bags of political slogans.