We may be a long way from November 8th, 2012, the day voters will head to their polling stations to elect the next president, but candidates are already positioning themselves for what will be a long and eventful race.
Earlier this week, the President officially launched his campaign with the release of a two minute video. It contained short clips of different Americans speaking in support of him, and making the case for regular Americans to get involved, and was punctuated with the line, “It begins with us.”
On the other end of the political spectrum, a number of Republicans are flirting with the idea of challenging the President, and are beginning to build their campaign infrastructures.
Since the President is the only major candidate to have officially declared his candidacy, this article will focus more on him, and how the major issues may affect his reelection bid.
In 2008, then-Senator Obama launched his campaign for President in February of 2007. He had been in office for only two years, and his campaign was largely based on the promise of providing hope and change to a country that was in need of both.
This time around, he’ll have more legislative achievements to tout - but he’s signed many controversial bills, and his record will also provide ammunition for his Republican opponent.
The Federal Government is on the brink of a shutdown, with Democrats and Republicans at odds over levels of spending reductions. The issue, and its impact on the country’s long-term debt, played a major role in Republicans recapturing the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010, and it will remain in the front of many voters' minds.
Republicans have characterized the President as a big spender, and he will be forced to frame his actions as investments aimed at Winning the Future (the White House's new slogan) rather than simple spending bills that increase the debt.
The economy will have to improve considerably over the next year to prevent it from becoming a liability for the President. He can claim to have prevented a total meltdown during the crisis, but if unemployment remains around 9%, that may not matter much to voters.
He’ll also have to face many voters who are still angry about the 2010 health care law, which was passed without a single Republican vote, and signed into law amidst an angry public debate. Many Republicans who won in the 2010 midterm elections campaigned on repealing this law, and they will certainly try to use it to their advantage again in 2012.
The President will claim to have kept America safe (as of this writing) from any terrorist attacks on domestic soil; for winding down the war in Iraq; and for ramping up the war in Afghanistan.
Interestingly, the most outspoken critics to his foreign policy may come from within his own party. Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is growing, and many liberals are angry that the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba is still in use, despite the President’s pledge to close it.
It remains to be seen how more recent events, including the ongoing struggle for regime change in a number of Middle Eastern countries, and the US intervention in Libya, will play amongst the electorate.
Republicans campaigning for office in 2010 generally focused more on the economy, health care, and federal spending than on social issues. This marks a change from prior election cycles, where the social issues of “guns, gays, and God” were a focus of their campaigns.
The oxygen in Washington DC has been sucked-up by economic debates, but other traditionally important issues, like energy, the environment, and immigration, may play into the outcome of the 2012 race. In fact, the recently-released US Census results show a fast-growing hispanic population, and this may move immigration to the forefront of the campaign debate.
The world of politics can be turned on its head in a single news cycle. The excitement of the 2012 election will center not only on the national debate as it relates to the aforementioned issues, but also on the news that has yet to be created.
A lot will be at stake, and whether it’s related to issues, candidates, or something out of left field, the 2012 election promises to be captivating.