In the middle of the Civil War, a time trying the souls of all, a presidential election was held. It had to be. The presidential election of 1864 was a marvelous display of what is right with the American political process, even if it had to take place during the heinous display of everything wrong with the American political system.
Abraham Lincoln, earlier challenged for the Republican nomination by John C. Frémont, decided to pick the one remaining southern Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Andrew Johnson. As always, Lincoln was concerned with the ultimate unity of the country. What is often missed, however, is just how tenuous the country was during this time. Even the political parties were split amongst themselves. The Midwest was rampant with Copperhead support for the soon-to-be Lost Cause. Throughout the nomination process, candidate after candidate promised to be the candidate. All, in the end, lost to Lincoln.
In the 2008 election, John McCain openly flirted with nominating independent Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman as his vice-presidential candidate. The country was divided at the end of the Bush-era, a fact we are likely to forget with today's major divisions. A unity ticket may have changed this; however, he chose Sarah Palin, soon to be ex-Governor of Alaska. This didn't stop Lieberman from actively campaigning for John McCain. No doubt, had McCain won, the Senator from Connecticut would have been a top McCain advisor. But, Senator Barack Obama won and the rest is history.
We are not engaged in an active rebellion as was the case in 1864, nor are our divisions as docile as they were in 2008. While we are stuck somewhere between 1864 and 2008, we are still far from open rebellion. This doesn't stop the whispers of revolt from creeping up. While Rick Perry, Governor of Texas and one-time presidential candidate, once spoke of secession as a viable option, he has quickly dismissed any such petitions. The only people advocating secession, or otherwise, are Facebook firebrands, speaking generally one to another. Yet, our divisions are real and likely to lead to major problems preventing any progress in this country.
In 2016, we can expect not a GOP who has learned from 2008 and 2012, but one who believes they rightly won -- we just don't know it yet -- and one who believes this country is made up almost entirely of older white Americans who consider the century between 1860 and 1960 as America's prime. They are fixated on sex in ways beyond the imagination, intent on ridding not just the voting rolls, but so too the streets of anyone with a darker shade of skin than their whitest male, while rolling back any advancement women have made in the last century. Right now, the competition to be king in this confederacy of dunces seems to be shaping up between Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. While it is still too early to call, these two will have a lot to say about who is the GOP nominee and as such, the GOP will be set back another election.
That is a detriment not just to the Grand Old Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower, but also to the great American experiment. When we no longer have a multiple-party system, but one party with unorganized dissidents, we will lose something of ourselves. This will likely cause more divisions, and more, until we have more than 50 state lines between us, but come to see our neighbors as unknown and unwelcomed strangers.
What is needed is a unity ticket, capturing the best of both parties.
His fellow Republicans, who see his stomp along the beach after Hurricane Sandy as a sign of treason, often disparage Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey. His recent participation in the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago has him receiving praise from Bill Clinton, however, and this is something that should cause us all to take notice. Chris Christie, in case you haven't noticed, is a contender for the Republican nomination in 2016. Hillary Clinton is the presumed front-runner for the Democrat nomination of the same year.
Maybe I am thinking wistfully here, but here is the scenario I would like to see play out.
Christie will run and by March of 2016, will be left out in the cold due to constant attacks by the libertarian and anti-compromise wing of the GOP. By the same time, Hillary Clinton will have easily marched to victory over the only possible contender, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The GOP, leaving many in the center, will nominate Rand Paul for President and the old liners left out in the cold. By this time, the independents, tired of President Obama's scandals, will give pollsters coronaries -- even Nate Silver may have to be hospitalized due to anxiety. The GOP will throw everything they can at Hillary, much like they are doing now with the cartoon they are attempting to draw around Benghazi. She will have a difficult time attracting fickle independents.
Along with Bill's help, the search will commence to explore possible vice-presidential candidates. There is Senator Joe Manchin, former Governor of West Virginia (a twice red state), who is a long-time friend of the Clintons. Governor Cuomo will be formable, and while he has positioned himself as a Christie-like fiscally sound executive, in the end, New York is already a blue state. Clinton will need a no-nonsense partner and one who is attractive to the independents. Plus, she'll need one who is charismatic and a proven executive. And, she'll need one to pick up centrist Republicans, holding out in their bunkers in New England and the Deep South (yes, there are a few there in Florida). But more than that, after 16 years of a divided country due in large part to the GOP, she'll need to find a way to unite what is left of the GOP who still care about America as a whole with Democrats and move us all forward.
Clinton/Christie in 2016 anyone?