The long, tough and extremely costly 2008 U.S. presidential race ended this past November, about two and a half months ago. The inauguration, again a costly affair attended by the largest crowd in history for such an occasion, took place only four days ago.
It seems reasonable to think there might be a period of rest and relaxation after such a long, tiring, emotional and stressful campaign at the local, state and national levels, but the 2010 congressional races and the 2012 and 2016 presidential races already are under way.
Based on the manner in which the Barack Obama team put together its campaign efforts, it appears Republican presidential hopefuls are likely to remain just that: hopefuls.
There’s no question that Obama strategists already are designing their 2012 re-election plans and looking at how to strengthen their congressional majority in the 2010 elections.
This past December, the Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University hosted the “2008 Post-Election Conference” with a number of senior aides from the Obama, McCain, Huckabee, Edwards, Clinton, Romney, Giuliani and Thompson campaigns on hand to discuss how they designed their respective efforts, what went right and what went wrong.
As gifted as these nationally known and highly respected political campaign strategists may be, there is no question that the two senior Obama advisers — Steve Hildebrand and Matt Rodriguez — who helped run the hands-on, day-to-day campaign, were far ahead of their peers in putting together a powerful, well-designed and tremendously well-funded campaign.
Details of their efforts, the money they had available, the hundreds of thousands of volunteers, the information they gained about thousands of these volunteers, the signed pledges they collected from individuals making financial and time commitments and the staffing of most every contested election throughout the United States all dwarfed the efforts of the other campaigns.
Obama operatives put together a terrific campaign plan and executed it in a superb manner, leaving other Democratic challengers in a state of shock and disbelief, as well as leaving GOP hopefuls in the dust.
When it came time for the showdown between Obama and McCain, Obama’s election effort was so well designed and engineered — and with almost unlimited funding — it was surprising McCain did as well as he did.
Obama, an excellent, tireless and focused campaigner and a superb orator, was running for “change.” Although President Bush faced more serious situations than most any recent president — two wars, 9/11, terrorism, two massive natural disasters, housing and financial crises and many other challenges — he governed during a record-breaking 52 months of growth and the strongest economy of any developed country. Nonetheless, Obama and his handlers were skilled in using the last year or two of Bush’s presidency as the primary reason to defeat McCain.
McCain was the head-to-head opponent for Obama, but Democrats had been demonizing Bush for eight years. And, in many ways, the GOP was split between moderates and the more conservative wing of the party.
This being the case, the well-organized, well-funded and almost evangelical commitment of Obama supporters led to a massive Obama win.
It was so well organized, there is every reason to believe the hundreds of thousands of Obama volunteers already are being reorganized and will be used in many ways. There will be plans to use these Obama soldiers to lobby at the state and national levels for support of the Obama agenda. They will be used to recruit individuals to run for local, state and national offices and will be asked to give financial support to the party’s coffers at local, state and national levels.
This being the case, it is clear any GOP challenger in 2010, 2012 or 2016 is going to face a terrific uphill battle.
Obama will get most any reasonable plan through the Democratic-controlled Congress, and, at least for some time, he will have the support of many of the nation’s major media outlets who showed their bias during the just-completed campaign.
It appears the only danger he faces in his re-election dreams will be if his Democratic-controlled Congress fails to measure up in the eyes of the public. Will he be able to satisfy the more liberal members of his party? And just how far will he steer this nation to greater government control of our lives?
By 2012, Obama could have 50 percent or more of Americans paying no federal taxes and possibly be on the way to having free health care. If that comes to pass, it will be extremely difficult for any Obama challenger, within his party or in the GOP, to have much of a chance of winning. What would cause the majority of Americans paying no taxes, getting free medical care and counting on the government to take care of their basic needs to vote for a candidate who suggested they should pay some taxes and not count on the government for free handouts?
The “free lunch” approach, socialism and setting up class against class, is a subtle but effective way to gain powerful control over a sizable portion of the populace.
Is there anyone in the GOP who would be able to mount a sufficiently powerful, well-funded and skillfully executed presidential campaign in 2012? Is there anyone in the GOP ranks who is a serious possibility for the 2016 campaign and, even if there is, have Obama organizers put in place such a formidable bank of trained volunteers and huge reserves of money that well-qualified challengers will decide not to enter the race?
If the first two years of Obama’s presidency are marked with major successes, it’s likely Democrats will be able to hold onto their majorities in the House and Senate, reversing the usual off-year election gains by the minority party.
Obama and his brain trust put together a textbook campaign, starting in 2004, maybe even before that, and now they are enjoying the success of such planning.
There’s no way of knowing what will happen during the next two years, domestically or abroad. However, if Republicans are to have any chance of picking up seats in the House and Senate in 2010 and giving Obama a serious challenge in 2012, they are going to have to reorganize, be far more aggressive and visionary in their efforts. They also will have to encourage and support excellent men and women to be candidates, individuals who are smart, articulate and inspiring, who merit the public’s trust and confidence.
It’s not an easy or promising challenge.