In November the voters will decide whether President Obama becomes a “lame duck” — or survives to push his agenda through to 2016.
Incumbent Democrats are in trouble, particularly re: Obamacare. Republicans are poised to hold the House and take back the Senate. But as they proved in 2012, the GOP has the ability to self-destruct.
Republicans could run against current U.S. foreign policies that are mired in confusion, appeasement, and a bizarre focus on social issues.
Throughout the Middle East — the Arab Spring is headed toward a Winter of Islamism. Turkey is devolving toward an Islamic state. Bloodshed continues in Syria. Benghazi-Gate remains in the news. Al-Qaida is not decimated but stronger than ever — even in Iraq. Israel finds itself increasingly isolated in this dangerous neighborhood.
Iran remains the world’s greatest threat — as their weapons and troops enter Syria unencumbered through Iraq. They mock the Obama administration’s six-month reprieve on some sanctions — their 18,000 centrifuges continuing to spin.
In Russia, President Putin jockeys for stature, surpassing President Obama in a recent poll as the world’s most influential leader. He insults America by granting a bully pulpit to Edward Snowden. The reset in relations with Russia has become another failed promise.
In East Asia, China grows stronger every day, posing a long term threat to the U.S. dollar. North Korea continues to be led by a dangerous dictator, while Dennis Rodman becomes an American embarrassment as a “diplomat.” Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are understandable nervous.
In Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere — the world’s Muslims are threatened by the metastasizing cancer of radical Islamism and Sharia creep.
The Republicans can win on foreign policy issues — but only if they unite and present coherent proposals that can restore America’s image.
Domestically, the Republicans face both political opportunities and challenges.
Their strongest card is Obamacare — a complete train-wreck in early implementation. On Election Day 2014 millions will go to the polls angry — personally hurt by higher premiums, higher deductibles, and loss of access to their doctors, hospitals, and prior insurance providers.
The GOP can seize this moment — but they must offer a viable alternative — a patient centric plan that ends mandates, removes government dictates from health care requirements, preserves privacy and individual liberties, and returns health related decisions to patients and their providers. So far — no such plan is understood as the GOP solution.
Throughout 2014 the economy and the job situations will remain dismal. The Democrats’ focus on wealth redistribution, higher taxes, and burdensome regulations is stifling free market capitalism. The poverty level in the U.S. has risen to a 50-year record high. Deficit spending continues. On Election Day the national debt will be approaching $18 trillion. Dozens of cities and states will edge closer to financial crises, as America’s unfunded liabilities approach $100 trillion.
These realities should help the GOP. But again, Republicans must unite behind clear proposals that focus on free enterprise economic growth instead of government interventions. They must convince Americans that we will never redistribute, tax, borrow, or print our way back to prosperity. Arguing for budget disciplines, tax reform, and a liberated private sector — they must better language their proposals. A leaderless GOP has lost clarity and unity on these issues.
Throughout 2014 Democrats will try to deflect focus away from their weaknesses and onto issues where they usually win in “the court of public opinion” — unemployment benefits, immigration reform, climate change, income inequality, social justice, abortion, contraception, and gay rights.
For decades, these issues have cost Republicans dearly in lost minority, women, and youth votes. They must learn how to better express concerns and alternatives here in moderate words and tones — a tricky challenge that again demands unity.
To win the GOP must solve their leadership void. Otherwise unity in messaging will remain impossible. Without unity it becomes difficult to defeat Democrats who play follow-the-leader behind the president.
Republicans must end all infighting between the establishment and the so-called tea partyers. They must unite and consciously choose victory in November over winning 100 percent on principles. They will not be able to correct any of our nation’s ills if they lose on Election Day.
GOP unity is made difficult with more than a dozen Republicans being discussed as potential 2016 presidential candidates — and dozens of other pundits, politicians, and talk-show hosts regularly criticizing fellow Republicans.
The GOP has too frequently met the enemy and found it to be themselves. If they are unable to unite, they will once again seize defeat from the jaws of victory in 2014.