Some Thoughts on the 2016 Campaign

I supported McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. Unlike the sorry bunch in 2012, I got to admit, the GOP candidates for 2016 are shaping up to be the best in years.

The GOP candidates for the 2012 election were pretty terrible. Ron Paul and Rick Perry both oppose the federal reserve, and Ron Paul is essentially a liberal hitchhiking on the GOP brand. By imperiling the fed’s ability to function, having either of them as president would create a lot of business uncertainty which could adversely effect the stock market and the economy. Ron Paul never had a chance, so he can be ignored for all future discussion, and Rick Perry will never live down his ‘oops’ short-circuit on live TV, so he’s toast as well. Herman Cain doesn’t have the rudimentary knowledge of foreign affairs or other policy necessary to be president, and the sex scandal doomed what little chance he ever had, so he’s no longer a contender as well. Rick Santorum was never able to rally big donor support and fared poorly in the primaries. He’s too religious, which can alienate moderates and swing voters. Just being the republican nominee is good enough to get the Evangelical vote; there’s no need for any republican candidate to proselytize his religion since it’s already implied he’s a practicing Christian by virtue of being a republican. Democrats, on the other hand, should make religion a noticeable part of their campaign as Obama did in 2008 to success. Newt was a competent candidate, but his years of accumulated ‘baggage’ and a conflict of interest over a lucrative consulting gig hurt him. Donald Trump was never a serious candidate, so we can ignore him.

So that brings us to 2016. There are many potential republican candidates and without comparing the contrasting the merits of all of them, it’s easy to draw an inference that the major contenders are all proponents safe, pro-growth policy and will uphold the stats quo. This is especially so for Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bolton, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz. Ideologically, Jeb Bush is a carbon copy of his brother, except even more pro-immigration. Should Bush start winning primaries and polling well, the stock market will rise. It will surge even more if he becomes the nominee and polls ahead of his democratic opponent. The election of any one of the aforementioned ‘safe’ republican candidates will pretty much guarantee a continuation of the successful policies of Bush and Reagan, which is good for the stock market, homeland security, and the economy, although many on the ‘far right’ will be dispirited, preferring instead a maverick candidate like Perry or Ron Paul. I would rather have a pragmatic conservative who will promote pro-growth policy than a candidate who may act recklessly to appease a small but vocal constituency. Fortunately, the nomination process, specially for the republican party, is efficient at weeding out the unelectable crazies. On the internet especially, many on the right complained about Romney being phoney or fake, but he did get the nomination as enough people were able to overlook his flaws, and he would have made a better president than any of his challengers.

Unlike possibly any presidential election in recent history, any outcome – either Hillary or a republican – bodes well for America. In 2004, the differences between Kerry and Bush were stark. Same for McCain and Romney vs. Obama. But Hillary, with her close ties to the financial services industry and interventionist hawkishness, is closer to being a pragmatic moderate like Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush. It was Hillary, after all, who landed several devastating blows to the seemingly impenetrable Obama campaign as the media did everything in its power to get Obama elected, while glossing over his obvious lack of experience, ties to homegrown terrorists, his America-hating pastor, inability to appeal to hard-working white Americans, and calling gun owners and supporters of the constitution ‘bitter’. Early in 2007, Hillary was right to bring up the issue of Obama’s potential ties to Islam before many ‘birthers’ took on the issue. During a debate, she was right to counter the baldfaced naivete of Obama’s pledge to have ‘talks’ with Syria and Iran. And for these reasons and more, Hillary would have been a much better president than Obama, and she still would make a better president than probably any of the democratic nominees. Although Hillary has expressed criticism of NAFTA and the Bush tax cuts, her more conservative husband is likely to play a role in her campaign and potential presidency, nudging her to the right on many issues.

Wall St. isn’t sweating the 2016 election. Even if Hillary becomes president and continues to expand the SNAP program, multinationals like Walmart will rejoice because they derive billions of dollars in revenue from these programs. The thing is, both parties are good for big business: republicans will lower taxes, cut regulation and increase defense spending; democrats will try to expand the welfare state and create programs like Obamacare that benefit the healthcare sector.

For people who own stocks and real estate and don’t want any surprises, the 2016 election is as good as it’s going to get. Having Hillary means we get Bill – possibly the most Wall St. friendly president ever, second only to George W. Bush – and most importantly, Obama, the wealth spreader in chief, will be gone. On the official wikipedia page of 2016 democratic candidates, Warren isn’t listed as having ‘expressed interest’, but Biden, Sanders, O’Malley and Dean have expressed interest and would probably be much easier opponents than Hillary.