It’s easy to get disgusted and disappointed with this 2016 election cycle, especially as a young voter. The one silver lining? Barring some unforeseen apocalypstic end (or a Trump presidency filled with executive overreach, Constitution shredding, and election cancelling), we’ll still be around for 2020! We actually have a lot more to look forward to then. Unlike the Democratic Party, our benchwarmers are deep, talented, and principled.
We have arrived at a point where Donald J. Trump is trailing Hillary Clinton by 4 to 7 points, consistently, in national and swing-state polling. If you ask only “likely voters”, the lead generally increases a couple more points. His campaign is virtually broke, he’s piss-poor at fundraising to say the least, and he’s shown no ability or willingness to produce or control a campaign team. He’s also shown zero ability to control his hollow, valueless, and incendiary rhetoric. He is alienating large groups of important voters and has historically high negatives. He is, in my estimation, the only candidate the voters could have chosen (out of 17!) who wouldn’t be thumping Ms. Clinton in the polls right now. There’s even a statistically plausible scenario where Ms. Clinton wins the White House without having to win Florida OR Ohio OR Virginia.
[Don’t ever let anyone tell you the liberal-advantage in the Electoral College isn’t real.]
What does that mean for us now? Without a #DumpTrump coup d’état at the convention, it means we’re staring down the proverbial barrel of another likely Clinton presidency. However, unlike in this cycle, we can hope to find a 2020 nominee to limit that presidency to one term. We have a plethora of excellent choices.
1. The Youngsters: Ben Sasse, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton.
This group is full of talent. This group is full of possibility. This group is also full of questions. Rubio failed at his first national campaign, as did Ryan at the bottom of a ticket. Cotton has made a name for himself in the foreign policy arena, some good and some bad. Opposing criminal justice reform didn’t endear him to me, but that has little to do with his future. Sasse isn’t the biggest household name, but he will continue to make a name for himself by defending the Constitution and opposing Donald Trump. The conservative world, post-2016, will have a lot to do with the viability of this group.
2. Experience and Fire: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina.
This group has been through the ringer, sometimes multiple times. This group has a lot of principle, and a lot of backbone. This group also has the ability to set certain parts of the conservative world on fire (in a good way). Paul has a dedicated following, Perry is a master at retail politics, Cruz will forever be endeared for trying to take down Trump, and Fiorina proved on national television that she is a knowledgeable and articulate force for the movement. They will always have an ability to jump into a race and make a certain kind of splash.
3. The Governors: Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, Susana Martinez, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Brian Sandoval, Doug Ducey.
This is, by far, my personal favorite group. This is a group with executive experience, and s variety of backgrounds, with the ability to bring the big-tent, policy-focused conservative movement back to its roots. Christie will be tied to Trump’s fate forever; he dealt himself that card, so don’t feel bad for him. The others…well their possibilities are wide open.
4. The Keep-In-Minds: Adam Kinzinger, Tim Scott, Jeff Flake, Cory Gardner, George P. Bush.
These guys all seem to be open to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a forwarding address in the future. They aren’t well known, but they don’t have to be right now. They each offer something for the future. They each offer a glimmer of hope to a party dominated by hollow talk right now.
I know that was a lot to take in. Maybe some of you are feverishly Googling names right now, and that isn’t a bad thing. When your keyboard cools off, take a long time to appreciate that breadth of talent. Soak it in, and let it wash away the grime of this cycle. These folks will be the ones lighting the way towards a horizon of opportunity.
We just have to make it through this awful episode of “The Apprentice” first.