Voters should take advantage of changing paradigm
It’s election season. I’m not talking about New Brunswick City Council or about student government —I’m talking about the 2014 midterm elections. In other words, much of the United States Congress is up for re-election. This is a time for new faces, new ideas and new money to enter our legislature, although that rarely happens. The midterm elections of a president’s second term don’t exactly turn out well for the party in the White House. Just as former-President George W. Bush’s approval rating tanked and the Democratic Party gained control of the legislature in 2006, President Barack Obama has experienced a similar political climate. The 2014 midterm elections will pave the way for the 2016 presidential election, especially the shifting paradigm in American politics. This change in our country’s political discourse will turn the current ideals of our two main political parties on their heads.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll illustrates America’s disappointment with the current administration, showing a record low 40 percent approval rating of President Obama’s job so far in office. Although this sentiment is typical among voters at the tail end of a two-term president, the shifting of party lines makes this particular political climate unique.
Democrats running for Congress are obviously distancing themselves from the Obama administration, and their desire to do this is politically justifiable. Since it is likely Republicans take the Senate in addition to the House, Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to retain or gain Senate seats. Democratic candidates Alison Grimes of Kentucky and Michelle Nunn of Georgia both refused to say whether they voted for Obama. Many candidates don’t even want to be seen on the campaign trail with the second-term president.
Voters are starting to realize the Obama administration did not deliver on the hope and change candidate Obama once promised. At a recent rally in Maryland, supporters even walked out during the president’s speech. If that doesn’t illustrate disappointment, I’m not sure what does. Between scandals involving the IRS, Benghazi, Veteran Affairs and the Secret Service and hysteria over the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Ebola, many are objectively questioning the president’s ability to lead. Additionally, Senate Democrats have out-fundraised their Republican counterparts by $30 million yet are generally trailing Republicans 50-43 in that same ABC News/Washington Post poll. This financial reality is a hard coin to swallow for Democrats who regularly criticize Republican funding, especially the infamous Koch brothers. But some Democrats even point out the benefit of a fully Republican controlled Congress for the president’s last two years in office.
As Obama essentially assumes the position of lame duck and both parties gear up for the highly-anticipated 2016 presidential election, a “do nothing” Republican Congress could hurt the party’s presidential prospects. In contrast, the Democrats are already in a losing position as the Republicans were in 2008. What makes this upcoming presidential election unique from the historic 2008 success of then-junior Senator Barack Obama, is the intensity of internal differences our two parties face. Liberals on the far-left oppose Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton due to existing connections, and those on the far-right do the same for Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. Support of anti-establishment candidates has been on the rise since the height of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, respectively. This is an awakening to our out-of-touch political parties, since a Gallup poll released illustrated about 40 percent of voters now identify as independent. With establishment Republicans such as Eric Cantor losing in the primary and the party suppressing more grassroots, libertarian candidates, one can’t help but wonder if the two parties are even distinguishable.
Although it is still in the distant future, the 2016 presidential field is full of speculated candidates who differ greatly. Democrats have Clinton, Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Republicans are looking at Bush, Rand Paul and Chris Christie. Assuming Democrats pick Clinton out of loyalty and Republicans pick libertarian firebrand Paul as the new face of the party, America would experience a presidential debate like no other. Paul is at odds with his party establishment, making him more appealing to independent and disenfranchised liberals. Additionally, he is a Republican who wants to end the Drug War, bring home our troops and end crony capitalism. In great contrast to Paul is assumed-nominee Clinton. As a career politician with stronger ties to Wall Street and the military-industrial complex than Paul, war hawks and bankers are more attracted to her than most potential candidates.
In 2008, our country was given the typical choice between a pro-civil liberties, economically liberal, anti-war Democrat and an anti-civil liberties, economically conservative, pro-war Republican. After one and a half terms of a Democrat who is clearly anti-civil liberties and pro-war, many Americans have began to see beyond the partisan theatrics in Washington. If Paul and Clinton become the respective nominees, America would have a choice much different than in 2008. Voters would be deciding between an anti-civil liberties, economically progressive, pro-war Democrat Clinton and a pro-civil liberties, pro-free market and anti-war Republican Paul. This paradigm is one much different than in contemporary American politics and would greatly benefit liberty candidates. As our generation of socially liberal, fiscally responsible, anti-war voters cast their ballots, establishment candidates should be afraid of their job security. When searching for your candidate-of-choice, you must ask, “Which politicians favor liberty and prosperity the most?”
Matthew Boyer is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. He is the NJ State Chair and Rutgers chapter president of Young Americans for Liberty. His column, “Legalizing Life,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.