The Race for the White House

We are two years away from the inauguration of the next president of the United States. We are one year away from the New Hampshire Republican primary and ten months from the Iowa "caucus" (a funky voting mechanism like a primary but not like a primary). The Republican Party has launched its political calendar well in advance, with what's called in pundit vernacular the "invisible primary" -- invisible because, while no elections are scheduled for almost one year, now is the time when the prospective candidates (meaning aspiring presidents) advertise themselves to their funders, potential voters, and the national media.

This process is anything but invisible. By my count, at least 13 potential Republicans fill the crowded and chaotic field. I'll dive into the individual profiles in future columns. For now, here's the overview. There are four former governors, including Mitt Romney, who lost to Barack Obama in 2012, and Jeb Bush, son and brother of two former presidents, respectively. We also have six current governors, including Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose weekly call-in radio shows remind one of Hugo Chavez at his most megalomaniacal and ebullient.

Two of the three senators are in many ways the most interesting. Florida's Marco Rubio and the Texan Ted Cruz, young and with Cuban parents, are struggling to appeal to Latino voters without frontally embracing Obama's immigration reform, and position themselves perhaps as Vice President, without losing their ground in the Senate.

The group as a whole does not offer a great deal of geographic diversity -- no one from west of Texas, unless you count Romney's Mormon Church affiliation in Utah, and no women.

Many of the contenders, including Senator Rand Paul, are beginning to speak about inequality in America. This is a very real problem but seems to conveniently be rolling off their lips only now, when the economy, led by a president they detest, is beginning to improve. So it is hard to know what is in their hearts.

Speculation is risky, and a lot could and will change over the next two years. But in November 2016, the man running against the likely Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, will probably be Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. A social conservative, Jeb still most closely resembles the Republican establishment, weakened as it is by tea party radicals. And with a Mexican wife and children and a very diverse state, he recognizes that without Latino votes nationwide, and without humane immigration policies, the Republican Party's future is in peril.

As if it came straight out of a primetime television drama, the next battle for the White House will thus likely unfold between two dynasties, the House of Bush and the House of Clinton.

This post was originally published in Portuguese in Folha de São Paulo. It is originally available here.