We Shall Be Governed No Better Than We Deserve

I wish to offer my preliminary observations of the challenges facing the eventual nominees from both major political parties.

I'm not interested in which candidate has the largest genitalia, who is involved in Nixonian dirty tricks, who repeats himself during a debate, who doesn't understand that the ghetto is not the exclusive domain of African Americans, or the candidate's email travails. These observations represent the structural challenges that both nominees must overcome to be victorious in November.

The Republican nominee's primary challenge is the Electoral College map. Based on the 2012 election results, the Republicans must overcome a nearly 5-million-vote deficit. Moreover, it must be achieved under the backdrop of changing demographics.

According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos voted for President Obama over Mitt Romney by a 71 percent to 27 percent margin. What has the GOP done to close this gap?

This is critical to their election fortunes in November. The electoral map is far less forgiving than the primary season.

As of this writing, there are only 10 states considered to be in play in 2016: New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and Florida.

Given the changing demographics, Florida becomes key. The Republican nominee can ill-afford to lose three of the four largest states in the Union and expect to win. With Northern Virginia essentially becoming southern Washington D.C., the Democratic nominee could conceivably lose Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and still be victorious in November.

The Democratic nominees' primary challenges are history and enthusiasm.

With the possible exception of those attending campaign rallies for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, there is nothing emanating from the Democrats that is reminiscent of the "Yes we Can!" chant of 2008.

After Super Tuesday, according to MSNBC, the Republican vote tally stood at 8,307,884 compared to the Democrats' 5,557,243. In 2008, the last time Democrats had a contested primary, the numbers were nearly the exact opposite.

The Electoral College map challenges the Republicans possess could quickly evaporate if they maintain a large enthusiasm gap. Voter enthusiasm can turn around that 5-million-vote disparity quicker than Steph Curry can launch one of his unstoppable three point shots.

The other challenge for the Democratic nominee is history.

Since the ratification of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, which limits any individual elected president to two terms, only once has the same party held the presidency for three terms. Has the country become weary of Democrats occupying the White House?

Whether voters say it or not, this year's election will be a referendum on the eight years President Obama has held office.

Both challenges taken together beg the question: How much was Democratic enthusiasm in the past two elections due to the transformational election and re-election of the president? Can Democrats overcome history?

While both nominees will be in a race to overcome their structural challenges, they also share an obstacle that will be key to their fortunes. Will this be an election where people vote their hopes or their fears?

Amorphous slogans, effective during the primary, won't suffice. Will the 2016 election be one that has people looking up toward what's possible or will it be one where people look down, momentarily pacified by the fact there are some who they perceive to be beneath them?
If it is the latter consideration, have we not simply rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic? If, however, it is the former, then we are continuing the arduous trek toward that more perfect union.

One thing is certain: the outcome will remind us once again why George Bernard Shaw said "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve."