After the 2008 election, Republicans vowed to do everything to obstruct President Obama and keep anything he supported from passing. When they lost again in 2012, they doubled down on this philosophy. Unfortunately for the country, this strategy, coupled with falsehoods about Democratic programs and the Democrats cowardly showing in 2014, Republicans now control both the House and the Senate.
The question facing Republicans now is what to do with this power. If they continue their obstruction and do nothing, they will not be able to shift the blame to Obama and the Democrats. If they yield to their conservative base, Obama will veto whatever they propose and two more years will pass with nothing being accomplished. If they work with Obama, their conservative base will rebel causing internal turmoil and damage to their brand going into the 2016 election.
On the other hand, the Democrats have to prove to their once loyal base, that they still stand for middle class values, job creation and strong financial reform. Their quietness in 2014 and lack of support for their president was a huge tactical error. As Obama angers the Republicans by passing immigration reform, opening diplomatic relations with Cuba and maybe vetoing the Keystone Pipeline, the Republicans have to prove they have workable ideas that will create jobs, improve the economy for everyone and that they can govern and get things done.
Thus far, they haven't done that. The Republicans are once again trying to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. They want to dismantle ACA funding, and are again attacking women's health and choice issues. They plan to greatly reduce Homeland funding, except to send more troops to the border and deport all undocumented people. They want to cut the NASA budget to unworkable levels, have put no women in charge of any committees in Congress except administration, and want to again deregulate Wall Street so that taxpayers are on the hook for risky behavior, rather than the banks and brokers. And they say, "This is the new Republican Party." So what are they doing that is new and different?
NOTHING. They continue to block, obstruct, lay off, deregulate, deprive the needy while assisting the wealthy, and pass nothing of significance like infrastructure measures or job bills.
To win the White House in 2016, each party needs a good candidate. While there are dozens being talked about in the Republican Party, only a couple would probably put up much of a fight. A total conservative like Ted Cruz or a bully like Chris Christie will only attract extremists, not a majority. Mitt Romney is a two-time loser; Rick Perry had an embarrassingly poor showing in 2012; and Jeb Bush has to disassociate himself from his very unpopular brother, and show that another Bush in the White House would not create a dynasty.
Rand Paul has to attract enough conservative voters to get through a primary. Marco Rubio wants to be president, but his wishy-washy ways have endeared him to very few Floridians, let alone other states. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum want to turn the government into a theocracy, not a democracy. Donald Trump thinks he would be a great president, but he is in a very small minority who believe that.
Scott Walker might be a good candidate if labor unions don't organize against him and the deficit he has grown in his own state with his radical ideas aren't seen as a big negative. Dr. Ben Carson would like to be president, but the Republicans nominating a black man is highly unlikely.
Fearing Hillary Clinton will top the Democratic ticket, the Republicans have scrambled to come up with some potential female candidates such as Kelly Ayotte, Jan Brewer and Nikki Haley.
While Hillary will most likely be the Democratic nominee, Bernie Sanders is thinking of running as well. His middle class values, outspoken commonsense and experience will capture a lot of attention from far left Democrats, especially if he added Elizabeth Warren to the ticket.
With all those possibilities still pending, I have a couple of words of wisdom for both parties.
To Republicans: show the American people you can get things done that help them. Don't block Obama, but find ways to compromise with him without adding bad amendments to otherwise good legislature. In other words, show some leadership, do your job and govern.
To Democrats: stand up for your values and with your president. Right now, I think the Democrats are broken, don't stand for much, and are afraid of everything. My advice is to demonstrate a strong backbone, hold the Republicans accountable for their actions or inactions, and give Democrats a reason to vote in 2016.