SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 17, 2012

Shribman: Thanksgiving ... and the 2016 primary is just 38 months off

(Continued)

Because columns of this sort are supposed to be loaded with names, here they are. Republican candidates might include Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Mike Pence, Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, whose great advantage is that his sister works for Dunkin’ Donuts, the most revered company in the region. Democrats might include Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley and even Joe Biden, whose six visits since Labor Day cannot be a coincidence. Does it matter that John Hickenlooper has started to make contact with locals, and do you have any idea who he is?

Yet it isn’t personalities but politics that first must be worked out. The Democrats must contemplate the world after Barack Obama and decide whether they can sustain their coalition of women, minorities and immigrants with him in retirement.

But the biggest challenge is the Republicans’. They cannot again tie their fortunes to a base that is aging rapidly and losing its vitality. They cannot afford to get clobbered among voters under 30 and among minorities, even though there aren’t many minorities here, where the voting-age population is 96 percent white.

Among the moderate Republicans who remain fixtures here, there is worry the party just spent a year talking about the destruction of the American character and then was surprised that those Americans supposedly undermining the national character turned against them. The view here: The Republican campaign was exclusionary, not inclusive, a major misreading of what politics is about.

Memo to Republicans contemplating a New Hampshire visit: Republicans here are concerned about fiscal issues, not social issues. Likely GOP primary voters here support abortion rights more than Americans as a whole, and they don’t recoil at gay marriage. New Hampshire Republicans didn’t even mount an effort to repeal gay marriage when they had a chance.

One last thing. The other day some folks around here were sitting with their coffee cups wondering — actually speculating — who would be the first damn fool to cross state lines to write about the 2016 election. Now they know.

North Shore native and Pulitzer Prize winner David Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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