2016 Election – Ranking the Republican Candidates

As the 2016 U.S. presidential election fast approaches, I turn my attention to the field of Republican candidates for the nomination. The list is so long that I will have to narrow my analysis in the interest of brevity and so I will only include my top five choices and a few honourable mentions:

Honourable Mention – Mike Huckabee -: Huckabee is a likable individual and his no-nonsense, straight-talking style of conservatism has always attracted a good base of middle America. He, however, lacks the political capital or the social nuances to position himself as a legitimate choice for the nomination. While his stated policy goals of reformed trade deals and lowering the welfare dependency are admirable, he does not have many original or explosive ideas that will attract anyone else but the core white, southern, Christian American vote and so I would find it highly unlikely that he would be able win a presidential election.

Honourable Mention – Ben Carson -: While I believe Carson’s heart is in the right place I don’t honestly believe he has the ruthlessness for politics. He’s an attractive candidate because of his personal history and professional background – that inspired an inspirational movie – but his lack of political or business experience is a real detriment to his campaign. Carson’s stance against political correctness is one of the most attractive elements to his candidacy, his common sense approach to politics and his background – which emphasizes the effectiveness of social mobility – will attract some support but I don’t believe that he is the best person to lead the United States out of the Obama-created abyss.

5. Marco Rubio :- Rubio is an interesting candidate and probably a likely candidate for a vice-presidential nomination on the eventual winning GOP ticket. His hispanic background along with his sensible approach to taxation – by supporting a federal flat tax rate and opposing capital gains tax – will lend him a lot of conservative supporters in the primaries. Rubio’s downfall may be his unambiguous conservatism – which may not lend itself well to the moderate and independent voters – along with his perceived sub-standard oratory abilities.

4. Jeb Bush :- What some are calling ‘the establishment candidate’ Bush is facing an uphill battle to convince voters to back another moderate, flip-flopping Republican after the Romney and McCain debacles. Where Jeb will shine is at the debate stage where, much like his brother, he comes across as a very likable and honest individual. Jeb also has a solid record as Florida’s Governor; where he reduced state taxes and cut the size of government. His more liberal attitude to social issues makes him appealing as a federal candidate but his name recognition will be an obstacle to overcome as opposed to the asset that it was for his brother.

3. Scott Walker :- Walker will be the Tea Party darling of the Republican primaries, his winning record in a traditionally blue state and his ‘stick it to the unions’ approach has won him many admirers to the right of the GOP. His election record speaks for itself, winning by a full percentage point higher than his previous victory in a recall and holding on to the state comfortably in the midterms, despite it being strongly targeted by the Democrats. This record will attract many in the Republican Party to throw their hopes on a perennial election winner after the despair of several harsh losses in the Presidential race. That is the nature of politics and the hunger to see a Republican in the White House may eventually win Walker the nomination, but his struggle will be trying to underplay his staunch social conservatism to the wider electorate who may not take to it as kindly as the Tea Party.

2. John Kasich – Now I’ll admit for the record that I believe Kasich has a very low chance of winning in the primaries but, in my eyes, he may be the most electable candidate in the Republican field. His success in the famous swing-state of Ohio speaks to the broad appeal of his politics. Kasich has a long and distinguished career in politics as well as a strong background in business. A strong fiscal conservative, Kasich will appeal to many GOP voters with his history of cutting taxes and balanced budget amendments in Ohio. Where he will struggle against the right of the party is justifying his increased expenditure on Medicaid in Ohio. However, I see Kasich’s pragmatism towards policy – even if it doesn’t follow the party line – to be an asset in a national election.

1. Rand Paul – The candidate for people with principles. Principles that government should be smaller, people should be freer and that the principles of the Constitution should prevail above all. Paul is the unconventional choice but his lack of GOP establishment connections, his principled politics (as was shown in his filibustering of the Patriot Act renewal) and the strong oratory skills that he possesses will make him the danger man to face Hillary nationally. He is the ideal Burkean candidate, a man who has the principled worldview that life, liberty and property is the key to happiness and the protection of these things through a pragmatic approach to policy-making is the role of a politician. I hope we see him in the White House.