One truth about addicts is that they’re constantly thinking about their next binge. That overwhelming need to feed their addiction can consume every fiber of their being and pushes rational thoughts aside.
Political junkies are no different, especially here in America. Look no further than the Clinton vs. Christie talk that began before the 2012 votes were even tallied. We’re obsessed with what the next big race will be, how two superstars stack up against each other, or which new trend will change the landscape completely.
I’m not a big sports guy and one of the things that bothers me is that the cycle never seems to end. Just when a season finishes and one team celebrates, it’s only one week before commentators start buzzing about next year’s players. But in truth, politics is the exact same way – only it hides behind the rationalization that all the tripe is actually headline news.
2014 is no different. The midterm elections bring into play the entire US House, 33 Senate seats (fun fact – this year a rare alignment means BOTH South Carolina senators are up for election), and 36 gubernatorial races. In addition, by the year’s end some contenders for the Presidency will have grown louder and taken the first steps on the long road to the 2016 election.
Right now, the web is rife with articles (here, there, and everywhere) musing on what the big races will be and what to expect from both parties. Each is full of polls, predictions, and posturing about why the 2014 cycle is important.
So, when I tell you that 2014 is the best time to start thinking about the post-Obama era, I wouldn’t blame you for lumping me in with all the other politicos. After all, the man still has three years left in office and a lot can happen in that time. What’s more, polls change and predictions are fairly useless at the end of the day. The only thing that matters is the final result and we won’t know that until November.
What does matter right now is the behavior of both parties. This is when people will start to look beyond the Obama years and shape the future of the country after his Presidency. Will further Tea Party tactics be successful? Could Democrats take more of a progressive stance (à la Elizabeth Warren)? It’s trends like this that will become more obvious this year.
The reason for this and why it’s important is because, like most midterm years, this is a dress rehearsal for the Presidential election two years away (which also brings with it higher voter turnout). Now is the time to test the waters with voters. The issues you see discussed and the ideas you see put forward this year will be what you see in 2016 and beyond. It really is the beginning of the post-Obama era.
We won’t see major shifts in party platforms, but instead I suspect there will be tweaks to certain issues. Obviously, one of the biggest will be healthcare as the country deals with ACA’s implications. Though several Republican governors have accepted the Medicaid expansion, opposing the law has become a core tenant of the party, so the GOP will have to reconfigure its stance somehow. On the Democrats’ side, the failures of the rollout late last year might mean seeking more distance from the law while not opening criticizing it.
In addition, to healthcare, we’ll likely see slightly different approaches to education (particularly concerning Common Core and charter schools) and maybe even small changes to energy policy (with further acceptance of alternative energy).
The really important thing is that, if you’re an American, you are a part of that process. You get a say in which ideas make it to 2016. This is the time to stand up and help weed out things that you don’t like. Now is when you can help pick which issues the country will focus on in the coming years.
So don’t let 2014 pass you by. It might seem mundane, but now is the time to keep informed. If you don’t pay attention and speak up now, the issues will have already been decided for you.