Now that the calendar has officially turned to 2016 it’s more socially acceptable to talk about the presidential election out in the open. Every political writer worth their salt has posted something this week resetting the stage for Iowa and beyond.
Personally, I have not checked the worth of my salt in awhile. But as prices are fairly low, I assume I am worth at least as much as my salt and therefore should set the stage myself.
I think the best way to do this is by giving you a succinct rundown of each candidate and their chances, which I tried to encapsulate with a lyric from the musical Hamilton.
Hamilton, the Broadway hip-hopera that has taken the country by storm, tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton. He may be on his way to being booted from the $10 bill, but Hamilton is now making his way back into the mainstream in this unlikely way. The soundtrack is not only one of the best albums of 2015, it contains a ton of political subject matter that is relevant to this year’s election.
So let’s dig in.
Democrats (Candidates listed from lowest to highest in Real Clear Politics polling average)
Talks for six hours! The convention is listless!/
Bright young man…Yo, who the f is this?
O’Malley is the former Baltimore mayor/Maryland governor whose persona influenced the politicians portrayed in The Wire. He’s young, good-looking, intelligent, and totally and completely a non-factor in the race for the Democratic nomination. He’s under 5 percent in the RCP average, and only 20 percent of those surveyed could tell the difference between him and Principal Skinner.
Our poorest citizens, our farmers, live ration to ration/
As Wall Street robs ‘em blind in search of chips to cash in
Senator Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist whose caught fire in the summer of 2015. His rhetoric railing on millionaires and billionaires resonates with progressives, and he was filling stadiums when Hillary was facing the worst of her email server problems. Bernie’s support has leveled off in the low 30s, and he isn’t a real challenger to Clinton. He does, however, lead all candidates in Facebook memes posted by the kid from your high school who was in a band.
You don’t have the votes. You don’t have the votes/A-haha-ha/
Such a blunder sometimes it makes me wonder why I even bring the thunder (why I even bring the thunder)
In Hamilton, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson makes his debut in Act 2 and promptly schools Alexander Hamilton in a rap battle. Jefferson and his hype man (James Madison) taunt the titular character in the most Puff Daddy/Mase way possible. I feel like that’s what Hillary Clinton does after each Democratic debate, where she has proven she’s far more polished than any of her Democratic challengers. She’ll be the Democratic nominee, but Bernie will and has influenced the conversation. O’Malley at this point just has to be hoping for a VP nod (which he won’t get) or cabinet position.
The fact that you’re alive is a miracle/
Just stay alive, that would be enough
Jim Gilmore has outlasted five (FIVE!) Republican candidates (six if you count Lindsay Graham’s chin). That’s remarkable for a guy who just a few months ago was working upstairs in your leasing department. Just kidding. He was an actual Governor! Of a state even! Despite his staying power, Wikipedia describes his poll numbers as “absolutely tragic“, which is very funny.
Rick Santorum/Mike Huckabee
You’re mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine/
Damn, you’re in worse shape than the national debt is in
These two candidates are basically the same. We should start referring to them by smushing their names together like Brangelina. Santorabee? Huckabum? I don’t know. Huckabee was the evangelical conservative who made his name during the 2008 election. He won Iowa and seven other states and lasted into March before withdrawing. When Huckabee passed on a 2012 run, Santorum took his spot. He did even better, winning 11 states before tapping out. Three years later, they are both back like college juniors returning to a high school party. In their time as candidates and TV personalities, they’ve said some weird stuff. Now, Huckabum has no chance to win, but they’re still hanging around. It’s just kind of sad.
Well, he’s never gon’ be President now/
That’s one less thing to worry about.
I had high hopes for John Kasich. I really did. He’s a former Congressman and popular governor of a swing state who is moderate on many issues. But he turned out to be just an uninteresting guy who hasn’t done well in the spotlight. Toward the end of the November 10 debate, he was booed when he said he’d separate people who needed a bail out from those who didn’t. At that instant, this lyric popped into mind. His only shot is to pull a miracle in New Hampshire, where he’s currently fifth.
I wanna be in the room where it happens, the room where it happens, the room where it happens
Arguably, the best song in Hamilton is The Room Where It Happens, a primer on political horsetrading that ends with Aaron Burr lamenting being left out of the room. That’s all he really wants: to be the decider. I honestly don’t know why Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is running for president, other than that she really wants to be in the room. She had a moment this fall — and presidential primaries are about moments — but she couldn’t sustain it. I’m glad Carly is in this race. I’m a big advocate for more females running for office. We also need people with business acumen running. But the best Carly can hope for now is a VP nod.
We need to handle our financial situation/
Are we a nation of states? What’s the state of our nation?
Rand Paul, the son of Ron and RuPaul, is the junior senator from Kentucky. Rand brings the libertarian bent of his father and plans to carry the same number of states. Give him credit. He is probably the most consistent candidate in the race when it comes to policy, even though sometimes his views — particularly on foreign policy — are outside the GOP mainstream. He’s an ophthalmologist by trade, and a rare one at that. He’s one of the few eye doctors who can’t read the writing on the wall.
The scholars say I got the same virtuosity and brains as my pops!/
The ladies say my brain’s not where the resemblance stops!
Jeb Bush, the son of George H.W. Bush and RuPaul, is the former governor of Florida. Look, Jeb Bush is everything many Republicans want in a president. Measured and intelligent, with backgrounds in business and government. He’s conservative, but practical. But his 2015 was a Chipotle-level dumpster fire. The only way it could’ve been worse would be if Sepp Blatter was his campaign spokesman. He still has the most money, which matters, and a lot of support from heavy hitters, but he needs to orchestrate a complete turnaround in 2016.
Everything is legal in New Jersey
This was one of the easiest lyrics to pick. Lin-Manuel Miranda peppers Hamilton with some quick Jersey-bashing, and Christie is the sitting governor of the Garden State. He may be the most interesting candidate in the race. He could have won the nomination had he declared in 2012, but he stated he wasn’t ready. Now after some bad press and with a crowded field, he may not be able to break through. Most under-discussed thing about Christie? The fact that his first and last names are the same. Which president would the funniest Christie-ized name? It would have to be a tie between Millard Millardie and Grover Groverie.
He’s not very forthcoming on any particular stances/
Ask him a question: it glances off, he obfuscates, he dances
Ben Carson may be one of the best doctors in the world, but why does that make him a good presidential candidate? Is there any other profession where skill in one arena is assumed to translate to another? Should Tom Hanks (world’s best actor) be the CEO of GM? Should Niall Horon (world’s best One Direction member) run an Olive Garden? Ben Carson peaked in the polls in early November for no discernible reason. When he actually had to start talking about stuff, he struggled to complete a sentence without lapsing into a coma. Now, he’s around 8 percent, which seems about right for him.
Handsome, boy, does he know it/
Peach fuzz, and he can’t even grow it!
That’s right. I’m not afraid to admit Rubio is a good-looking dude. He’s no Cam Newton, but who is? Amiright? Rubio is shaping up to be the “establishment” choice. He’s young, eloquent, electable, and has a compelling story. His opponents have and will hit him on immigration, his youth, some minor financial stuff here and there, but he’s a pretty clean slate. His problem is that he’s not the frontrunner in any early primary states.
Madison won’t talk to me. That’s a nonstarter/
Winning was easy, young man. Governing’s harder
At some point in 2011, a person who knows things told me “watch out for Ted Cruz”. I didn’t know at the time if he meant that the same way you’d say, “Watch out for Steph Curry!” Or if he meant it like “Watch out for ebola!” I’m still not sure. This lyrical exchange between Hamilton and George Washington reminds me of the Texas Senator. Campaigning is easy for him. He’s a rock-ribbed conservative (which has to be uncomfortable when doing yoga) with a gift for firing up the base. But pretty much all of Washington hates him and my confidence in his ability to govern is the opposite of high.
Oh, am I talkin’ too loud?/
Sometimes I get over excited, shoot off at the mouth
What can I say? He’s Donald Trump. But you knew that already.