2016, Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama, GOPocrisy — March 14, 2015 at 11:28 am

5 reasons you can call the 2016 election the most important election of our lifetime



Republicans are so supportive these days!

Matt Drudge is thrilled about the presidential candidacy of Martin O’Malley. William Kristol and Karl Rove want to see Elizabeth Warren get into the 2016 Democratic primary. Reihan Salam has five progressives he’d like to see oppose Hillary.

Either our conservative friends want a candidate who would be tougher on corporate greed or they don’t seem thrilled about facing the the “strongest non-incumbent” since at least Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I’m guessing it’s the latter.

Don’t get me wrong, a strong Democratic primary is always good for the party for multiple reasons. It builds consensus. It gives the party more say over the nominee’s agenda. And — most importantly — it could help draw attention to the numerous weaknesses of the GOP agenda.

Republicans most likely fear any attention on their primary process, which is why the have taken control of the debates and attempted to minimize the opportunities for their candidates to say awful things.

But more than anything they fear Hillary Clinton because they stand between them and the future of their agenda. She’s seriously unopposed thus far “Clinton has (apparently) won the nomination fair and square, through hard work and political talent,” as Bloomberg‘s Jonathan Bernstein puts it. Meanwhile, for the first time in generations, there is no clear Republican frontrunner — and the guy most likely to win the nomination might as well named “Jeb I-Wrecked-America.”

After a strong 2014, Republicans have a newly emboldened embrace of their agenda. If they march into it with 2016 and do worse with white voters than they did in 2012, this third presidential election loss in a row will force them to realign their party’s core agenda in a way we haven’t seen since before the Reagan era.

The party’s whole identity is on the line but there’s so much more at stake.

1. The Supreme Court
On January 20, 2017, when the 45th President of the United States is sworn in, three of the nine sitting justices—Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy and the Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg—will be more than 80 years old. Stephen Breyer will be 78 and a half , just a few months shy of 78.7, the court’s average retirement age since the early seventies, just after Dick Nixon ended the court’s progressive majority.

The next president could be the first since Nixon to appoint four justices, possibly in one term. And if a Republican wins, it wouldn’t mean the end to Roe v. Wade. It would mean an all-out assault on Social Security, Medicare, workers’ rights, voting rights…everything that built the middle class. The two conservative men appointed by George W. Bush, who was appointed by five conservative justices, are the most pro-business justices in generations. The next ones will only be worse.

2. The Affordable Care Act
Let’s say Obamacare survives its most recent legal assault. Any Republican who wins in 2016 will be obligated to use any power available to him to undo this law, which will by then be covering in some way around 40 million Americans. If repeal isn’t possible, the candidate will allow states to opt out. He’ll compel the IRS to reinterpret the law to deny credits. And he’ll likely unilaterally lift or delay mandates, using the precedent of Obama’s actions to make the law work, as an excuse to gut the law. And forget about the tens of millions not covered by the law who still need our help. We need to help them not because it’s the humane thing to do — it is! — but because every advanced country that covers all of their citizens pays far less for health care than we do. Our long-term debt problems are built largely on the GOP’s desire to keep a huge chunk of our population uninsured.


3. War in the Middle East
Republican Senators are vowing to undo any deal we make with Iran. Jeb Bush is already openly discussing sending troops to Iraq. Neoconservatives have dropped all pretenses and are just demanding war with Iran, a country larger than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

4. The Climate
Some observers have said that President Obama’s EPA regulations on carbon as well as his agreement with China to reduce emissions are crucial for his environmental legacy. But there is so much more to protect. The massive clean energy investments in the Stimulus cannot be undone, no matter how Republicans would like to. The rapid advance to clean energy along with regulations from the president’s first term have led to the first time climate emissions have fallen during a period of economic growth in 40 years. A Republican president would undo them all.

5. Inequality
Record income inequality and the ever-more dismal prospects for kids born poor are more than twin national embarrassments that hurt our entire economy. They question our very dignity. Obamacare and ending of most of the Bush tax breaks for the rich are the greatest steps we’ve taken to fight these scourges in our decades. Republicans want to get rid of Obamacare and pass a “Bush Tax Cuts on Steroids” that would give even more to the rich than the Bush giveaways, which led to the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Our history has shown that eventually one ideology wins. It may take decades but ideas fade out, movements shrivel. Right now Republicans think women have too many rights, too many Americans have health insurance, there aren’t enough wars, we’re doing too much about climate change and the richest aren’t rich enough.

The next election will decide if they get to start undoing the progress that’s just begun.

Every election gets called “the most important of our lifetime.” You now have permission to explain why this is actually true in 2016.

[Image by DonkeyHotey | Flickr]