Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Question for Liberals

I wrote a post elsewhere this week defending the early start of the 2016 presidential nomination race, but that sort of begs the question: what should that fight be about?

Specifically, I'm wondering about second-tier issues that a candidate might run on effectively. I want to exclude climate; I assume that a strong climate agenda will be mandatory for any Dem '16 candidate. Of course, we can't know yet what the context of the 2016 primaries will wind up being...presumably an Obama defeat followed by an ACA repeal would affect the agenda differently than an Obama re-election and a full or partially implemented ACA, and it's hard to guess right now what the economic and budget context will be in 2016. But still, given that the cycle is already getting started already and will really start being shaped after November, I don't think it's too early to toss the question out there.

I'll take either things you would want or things that you think would play well.


  1. There's a big crisis coming as more and more baby boomers retire and realize that they don't have enough money in their 401Ks (if they even have one) to maintain their standard of living. I'm not sure how the issue will evolve in the political discourse, but I think the Democrats would be smart to start talking about it now. Expand Social Security? Guarantee 401Ks to a certain amount? It's an issue where the Dems are poised to gain and Republicans probably won't be able to offer an acceptable alternative plan.

  2. It won't be a primary cycle fought mostly on the basis of civil rights and civil liberties. Or drones. Or barring another 9/11-scale attack, security policy generally.

    Which will leave whole swaths of Left Blogistan sputtering with rage.


  3. Doesn't this depend way too much on what Obama accomplishes in his second term? The big items on the progressive checklist are climate change, immigration reform, campaign finance, tax reform, and marriage equality. The 2016 nomination will be decided on the basis of what issues are still left on that list, plus any foreign policy issues that come up between now and then.

  4. Before then, I expect climate change and marriage equality will become non-controversial. By 2016, I expect the war on drugs to be about on the cusp.

  5. I'd guess we'll see alternative fueling stations becoming a political issue; places where you can plug in or fill a hydrogen tank.

    And I think we'll see some sort of action on medical rights; meaning a push for research to help weed out the tests/treatments that actually cause harm in the efforts to control health-care costs.

  6. I think campaign finance will be more on the agenda, in particular after al the breathless coverage of SuperPACs in 2012 leads those on the left to see billionaires behind every ad.

    1. I think that campaign finance will go one of two ways. Either shoveling money at photogenic Republican candidates will generally work to elect them, or the Meg Whitman effect will become the rule. In the first case, finance reform will be obviously needed to restore balance, but difficult to implement. In the second, Republican factions will splinter and campaign finance reform will become possible.

  7. Gordon:

    Before then, I expect climate change and marriage equality will become non-controversial.


  8. Gordon and David Tomlin:

    I can see marriage equality possibly becoming noncontroversial in four years because religious conservatives are the only force lobbying against it. However, there will still be a fossil fuel lobby in 2016, barring a really earth-shaking event. If we just see a gradual warming like we have over the past couple of decades, the climate denial industry will spin the first outlier cool year as evidence that climate change isn't happening.

  9. Trade, the international economy, and associated labor issues. The heightened concern over big corporate $ in politics may open the door to greater economic nationalism - particularly if the recovery continues to be slow and unemployment remains where it is. Of course given how campaigns are run, and where both the Clinton and Obama White Houses have been on this I wouldn't expect the anti-globalizers to win. But I could see a deeper fight.

  10. Infrastructure investment and research dollars SHOULD be the priority. Patent reform and banking regulation to promote reasonable private investment/loans in start-ups should also take a high priority. The economy will stay sluggish without these reforms, no matter who is elected.

  11. Leaving climate aside, there are two different sets of possible issues: primary and general. I think there will be space for someone to make a big deal about a procedural problem - probably not the filibuster directly, but presumably appointment reform (perhaps just executive), or the related necessity for liberal monetary policy - in the primary.
    Depending on the state of the ACA, the public option could make a return during the primaries, too.
    Looking toward the general, we'll have to hope for a candidate that objects to destroying entitlements to "save" them, perhaps countering with federalizing Medicaid. Transportation will remain on the docket, again hopefully as an issue where the Democrat is offering a positive vision; I don't think HSR is necessarily the best use of the money, but perhaps that plus complete streets would appeal to a broad coalition for transportation (funding) reform.
    An off-base appeal could be made to maintaining postal service by deregulating the post offices (or something zany, like Matt Yglesias's employee-owned idea), if it hasn't been gutted by then.


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