In the forthcoming presidential election due to take place in November of next year, the Democratic nomination is, barring any major upsets, certain to be President Obama’s. The question of who will receive the Republican nomination is anyone’s guess.
Aside from the major candidates that have already announced they want the GOP (Grand Old Party) nomination, such as frontrunner and former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney; former governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty; former Senator Rick Santorum and former speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich; there are a whole host of other candidates who are seeking the nomination for various reasons which can be broken two into roughly two categories:
The first of these categories are those who seek the advancement of a cause, or wish to kick start a debate within the party or society generally. There are a number of these this year but among the most notable is Fred Karger from California. He has never held political office but has campaign experience having worked on the successful presidential campaigns of both Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush.
Karger is the first openly gay candidate to run for president and is using his campaign to make the other Republican candidates who are both better funded and have a wider voter appeal to take a positive stand on gay issues. Karger has been a vocal proponent of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
The act also legislates that no state can be forced to recognise a gay union in another state. The act was signed by President Clinton in September 1996 just before voters went to the polls in the presidential election of November of that year. Karger has also been pressuring the federal government to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” which was also initiated in the first years of the Clinton administration.
The measure forbade openly gay soldiers in the US Armed Forces, and if they came out, were immediately dismissed. The Obama administration is currently in the process of repealing DADT. Karger has heavily criticised the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) for their strict opposition to gay marriage and their backing of the 2008 Proposition 8 in California defining marriage between a man and a woman. He successfully took them to court over hiding their financial involvement in prop 8 and they were subsequently fined.
The other notable candidate in this category is Ron Paul a congressman from Texas whos son, Rand, was elected to the Senate for Kentucky in the 2010 midterms. Paul Sr is broadly described as libertarian. Among the positions he supports is, U.S. withdrawal from both NATO and the UN. He is against most new spending and supports abolishing most of the federal government.
He opposes the war on drugs but also government involvement in health care and is strongly in favour of gun rights. Paul has a small but devoted following within the Republican Party many of which would be classified as supporters of the Tea Party. Paul like Karger, has no chance of winning the nomination, like Karger however, he seeks to get issues he supports discussed.
The second category of those seeking the Republican nomination are people such as Michele Bachmann
who are close to the Tea Party movement. Bachmann currently serves in the House of Representatives for a district in Minnesota and she has drawn not unfair comparisons with former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. Both Palin and Bachmann are expressly opposed to all of what President Obama has done, especially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2010 or “Obamacare” as they term it.
They see the bill as interfering in the health care market and in people’s lives by forcing those that can afford it to buy health insurance as unconstitutional and a power grab by the federal government. Bachmann sees President Obama presiding over what she sees as the decline of American greatness and rise of the high tax “socialist” state. It is worth noting that no one in over a hundred years has reached the presidency being simply a member of the House, they have all been either senators or governors.
Instead, Bachmann may be a category one candidate, trying to force the more moderate candidates like Jon Huntsman to the right. It has been reported that she is currently “trailing Barack Obama in Minnesota by 16 points, while fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, a former two-term governor, battles Obama to a draw at 46% each among registered voters”. More likely is that she could also be trying to move up the political cursus honorum, with the governorship of Minnesota up for grabs in 2014 and a running for the presidency and with it a national profile would do her no harm in that.
If neither of these are true, which is possible, as she is seen as divisive to a large number of voters, she could be preparing for a career in the media, like Sarah Palin.