In November, Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in The New Yorker that, as far as the 2016 presidential race is concerned, “Hillary Clinton’s prominence points up the remarkable shallowness of the Democratic bench.” Hertzberg has a strong point. The Democratic Party is dominated by a woman who has been on the national stage for over two decades. The former FLOTUS, New York senator, and Secretary of State enjoys astronomically high poll numbers in her party, not because of her extensive experience in Washington, but in spite of it. The irony here is that the only viable challenger up to this point for the nomination of the Democratic Party, the same party that nominated the ultimate outsider in 2008, is Joe Biden, the insider’s insider. It would seem that there is a need for a progressive, populist candidate in the Democratic presidential primary in order to challenge the insiders; otherwise, the party may suffer from political buyer’s remorse. Enter Elizabeth Warren.
Two things are putting Republican moderate incumbents in danger: Congress’ abysmal approval ratings, and Tea Party conservatives. In a state like South Carolina, where six of seven U.S. Representatives are Republicans, and very conservative ones at that, one Senator has become, in the words of CNN’s Peter Hamby, “one major scalp that conservatives activists have yet to claim.” His name is Lindsey Graham. Last month, Shane Goldmacher of National Journal named him one of the “Top Ten Lawmakers Who Could Lose a Primary Next Year.” He’s been a target of conservative groups who don’t agree with his support for immigration reform and for President Obama’s nominations for the Supreme Court. And almost 53% of South Carolina Republicans and GOP-leaning independents approve of the Tea Party movement. Looking at these numbers, one would think that yes, Lindsey Graham is in big trouble. Actually, he’s not. And here’s why.
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The next year carries a plethora of problems for the Republican Party. With uphill battles on tax reform, immigration policy, and political popularity, it might be easy for some in the GOP to see little hope on the horizon. Not only are their rivals gaining momentum lost after the 2010 midterms, the Republicans also face great internal strife between the establishment and Tea Party conservatives. How then can Lincoln’s Party repair the ruins wrought by the 2012 electoral disaster, stand for their principles, and successfully partner with Democrats to steer the nation aright? There is enormous potential within the Republican Party to solve the problems that face the United States. And 2013 will certainly present many problems for America as a whole. A delicate economic recovery, an even more delicate revenue stream, a bloated budget, and a vulnerable international posture all threaten the ability of everyday American citizens to live free and prosperous lives. Both parties recognize these dangers, but each fears giving in to the other, at the risk of losing the next election. Unfortunately, it seems as though both political parties are more afraid of losing voters than mis-managing the country. This coming year, the Republicans could choose to make decisions that improve their political standing and the state of the Union, or they could quarrel and make foolish decisions, jeopardizing not only their own political relevance, but also the well-being of the people who elected them in the first place. This article will examine some of the moves that Republicans could make to achieve the former.