The next presidential election is going to be determined by who is the most "middle ground" guy. The country is sick of being polarized (for the most part), and they want to be friends with their neighbors again. They want to find things to agree upon. They want a guy who helps them towards this.
And this isn't a bad thing, it'll give a nice sense of optimism back to the country, and we'll start to see that optimism reflected in our economics. People will finally feel that "the country is back on track."
But, in order to do this, it'll have to be someone who appeases to both sides. OK, let's disseminate what both sides really want:
1. Christian empowerment. This covers such things as abortion and gay marriage, but mostly just gives the sense that Christians are still in control. This is often phrased as "Morality".
2. Corporation empowerment. This will be couched in theories of economic policies, but really that's what it boils down to.
3. Safety and Security. This is the "terrorists are coming to attack us! get our guns!" idea. It does cover a lot more, like hard-assed approaches to terrorism, military strength, police strength, etc, but it is most often pushed in the form of gun rights.
1. Safety and Security. Please note that this is not the same as above, well, not really. But I have a reason I'll get to later for giving it the same name. For liberals, safety and security comes from such things as national health care, and improving standards of education. Fiscal security is also a good thing to mention here.. this isn't the global idea of economics, or power to the corporations, it's, "Will I have a job next year, and will it have a pension plan?" Another part of this one is... bringing the troops home. For these people, it's all about not finding their family come home in body bags.
2. Individual rights empowerment. This covers civil rights, gay rights, women's rights, minority rights, rights for the poor, rights for the middle class... really, any rights that the liberal voter feels personally affected by.
3. Ethical integrity. Yes, it's a silly thing for them to think of, I mean, no politician ever holds up to this. But it is something liberals think they have a leg up on conservatives for (and I often hear conservatives exclaim, "Well, all politicians are corrupt anyway, so why bother with that detail about [their favorite politician]?") So, I include it as an important issue.. and I suspect it'll be much moreso coming up.
OK, so notice that there is some sort of overlap here. Everyone wants economics, because it not only makes the country stronger, it makes everyone's fiscal situation a lot more optimistic. Another common ground is that both sides want Safety and Security -- yes, they're two different sides of that phrase, but that can be brought together and used to appeal to both sides. And both sides want some form of morality inherent to their elected officials... again, two sides of the same vague coin.
So, my prediction for what the next ideal candidate will be:
1. He'll work on the economics, as mentioned above.
2. He'll give a sense of security. He'll have a strong and powerful presence, one which seems to command the ships as much as it commands the home front. He'll bring back the troops, but he'll do so in a way that gives a sense of victorious return. He might bring back talk of national health care, but he'll definitely advocate the use of guns.
3. Christian, and apparently honest. Someone with a great deal of "integrity". He might speak out against gay marriage and/or abortion, but he'd never actually have done anything against it, and very clearly wouldn't. The safer option, however, would be for him to say, "I feel that these are issues that the people should decide, since we live in a democracy," or some such sort of doublespeak.
What he won't be:
This unfortunately means that Hilary Clinton can't really run effectively. I know this statement will piss off a few friends of mine, but seriously... she'll not make it this campaign. She's the sort of person people love or hate, and that's not what this election is going to be about. If she's smart, she'll wait another four years to run, she'll be in a better position by that point.
And what this spells out is that McCain is really going to be the most ideal candidate, of the names that are currently being tossed about. He's short on the economics, but he is strong on all of the other points. He's also made friends with Democrats with his stances against Bush, but his stances are such that Republicans can continue to agree with him. However, my prediction now is that he'll not run. I can't explain why, it just seems to me that guys like him never want to run.
Anyway, that's my early predictions on the next presidential race. I say this now, because I have been batting around these ideas for a bit, and I have noticed that a lot of editorials are already starting to think about those elections as well, so I thought I'd post my thoughts. whee.
If you've made it this far, I apologize for the ramblingness. :)