After being barraged by coverage of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary for the last week or two, like most Americans who have been within range of a television or a radio or opened a newspaper or seen a news website in recent times, and also because I am a political junkie even in non-election years, I thought I would try my hand at a bit of political prognostication about the ongoing Presidential contest in the USA, and add a little Pagan commentary as well.
My predictions for 2012 and beyond:
Most likely Republican Party ticket: Mitt Romney for President, Rick Santorum for Vice President. I don't think these two even like each other, let alone share the same philosophy, with Romney being a pro-business but socially moderate kind of Republican, kind of an old-style "Rockefeller Republican," and Santorum a hard-core social conservative who loves guns and bibles and hates gays and abortions. Romney needs someone with him to keep the Christian conservatives happy, and Santorum might be the best choice, with his near-victory Iowa demonstrating his appeal to that segment of the population.
Less likely, but possible alternative Republican ticket: Mitt Romney for President, Rand Paul for VP. That's right, no misspelling there. Rand, not Ron Paul for Veep. Romney may decide that he can't win by catering to social conservatives, so he will seek the anti-government, anti-tax, budget-cutting, Tea Party vote by bringing in the son of Ron Paul to charge up the libertarians.
Democratic Party ticket: Barack Obama for President, Joe Biden for Vice President, a standard bid for re-election of the existing Prez and Veep as you would normally expect. However, I also can envision another possibility.
Alternative Democratic Ticket: If Obama gets nervous about lukewarm support from Democrats disappointed with certain aspects of his record, from what many, including this writer, see as an over-willingness to cater to conservative Republicans and insufficient attention to issues like protecting the environment and cutting back our military empire, and wants to do something to add excitement to his ticket, he might choose to replace Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton. I did not come up with this idea, but was persuaded that this was a feasible option by a recent Robert Reich blog posting. I myself don't see Hillary as being very different from Biden let alone Obama on any given issue, but I can see that her presence on the ticket would create a lot of enthusiasm among many Democrats and also independent voters, particularly but not only women, who supported Hillary in her 2008 bid. This strategy might not only help Obama win re-election, but would also pave the way for a continuation of his administration and policies under a Hillary Clinton for President campaign in 2016.
Who will win? Obama, if he has the good sense to use Hillary as his #2. If Biden, could be a toss-up. Whether or not we go to war with Iran could be a factor. If tensions with Iran continue to increase, the hawks and neocons within the Pentagon, the Republican Party, and even some in the Democratic Party, will pressure Obama to take some kind of limited miltary action against Iran. If he doesn't do it, he will be criticized as weak. If he takes the bait, the ensuing quagmire and oil price crisis will be a gift to the Republicans, who might even shamelessly accuse Obama of recklessness and warmongering, despite how hard they worked to bring about this war.
I hope Obama will have the wisdom to avoid armed conflict with Iran. Nothing good will come from it. We have to learn to live with Iran. We are not the masters of the universe; we cannot force every nation on earth to do what we want. DEAL WITH IT, AMERICA!
Predictions for 2016:
On the Republican side, a slugfest between Jon Huntsman and Chris Christie. Some people think Huntsman has been wasting his time in the current campaign as he seems unable to catch up with Mitt Romney. I think that Huntsman has been doing just fine, only for a different electoral cycle, that of 2016. He is laying the groundwork, making the rounds, building up a network of supporters, introducing himself as a somewhat more moderate Republican than most others. If the extreme right-wing, let's kill-the-government types continue to dominate the Republican party, Republicans will probably have more defeats than victories for the next few years, as American continue to sour on the anger without answers politics of the Tea Party. Should the Republicans be looking for a non-Tea Party, non-extreme, more moderate and kindly candidate for 2016, Huntsman might find himself to be the right man at the right time. However, if Republicans continue to crave anger and brutality, Chris Christie will be their boy. This also helps explain why Christie has been out stumping for Romney. He is not campaigning for Romney in 2012 so much as for Christie in 2016.
Let me now add some thoughts on what the current election might mean for Pagans and issues that Pagans care about. In terms of basic tolerance for Pagans and other such minority religions and protection of their rights, I don't think there is a huge difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, but there may be some advantage in going with Obama. True, Obama is as eager to pass himself off as a pious Christian as any of the Republicans save Santorum, but I expect that Obama, and especially his Attorney General, Eric Holder, and also any Supreme Court justices that Obama might appoint would be more neutral on religious issues, more keen on respecting religious rights for all under a secular government, while a Republican administration would be under huge pressure from its Christian conservative base to do more to promote a Christian identity for the government and the country, and this could also mean suppression or persecution of minority religions from Islam to Paganism. One might think that Romney, as a Mormon subjected to a great deal of prejudice from conservative Christians,would be sensitive to the plight of minority religions, but there is another way this could play out. He might feel the need to prove his Christian credentials by beating up on Pagans and other members of minority religions.
I would also call attention to another issue. Paganism is generally seen as an earth-centered form of religion or spirituality that venerates the sacredness of nature above all other things. What does this mean for our choices in the election? Well, Obama has not been completely heroic when it comes to protecting the environment, as his weak-kneed response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and his procrastination about the Keystone Pipeline decision demonstrate, but he is a hell of a lot better than the Republicans, who seem to have concluded that America will not be a free country anymore unless every inch of territory is drilled and devastated to extract every possible iota of oil, gas and coal. They also seem to feel that the sun is the veritable eye of Satan, so fierce is their opposition to government support to help develop a solar power industry. I shudder to think of how much environmental damage might be done by a Republican administration supported by a Republican majority in one or the other houses of Congress.
From a Pagan, earth-centered, nature-sacral viewpoint, the choice is clear: Vote Democrat, regardless of any reservations. To support the Republicans in light of their literally poisonous environmental agenda is to betray the single most cherished value of most varieties of Paganism.
Therefore, Obama for Druid! Or Druids for Obama! You heard it here first.