Mike: Gov. LePage has not yet been re-inaugurated, and we are already hearing chatter about who the candidates may be in 2018. Am I crazy for thinking it’s too soon?
Cynthia: For some, 2018 can’t come soon enough, but before we think about re-electing a governor, we have the presidential election to look forward to in less than 24 months.
Who do you want in the White House in 2016, Mike?
Mike: I want the person who recognizes the problem our national debt poses for my generation and is honest with the American people about it. Our entitlements are unsustainable and need reform, as does our tax code. And I want the person who gives our states some of their autonomy back. The challenges Maine faces are very different than Hawaii’s, and the solutions to each cannot be dictated from Washington.
So if you know that person and could encourage him or her to get into the race, I’d be much obliged. Who’s on your wish list?
Cynthia: The deficit is shrinking and the economy is humming right now under President Obama. Gas prices are low, and unemployment lower. There’s more diversity in government, civil rights have expanded, and we are succeeding in the transformation to a clean energy economy.
I want the next president to have the strength of character and courage to keep leading — despite a recalcitrant Congress and the media’s obsession with doom.
And it’s high time for a man to be the First Lady, too, don’t you think?
Mike: If we have the right lady to call Madam President, sure. Does resurrecting Margaret Thatcher in Eastport makes her a natural born citizen? Or maybe Angela Merkel was secretly born on U.S. soil. Or maybe we should look at women governors, like Jan Brewer or Nikki Haley. I’d be good with any of them.
Of course, it helps that I generally agree with many of their positions. So let me ask: if none of them runs and Hillary Clinton does, and I support a Republican man, am I sexist? And what if that Republican man opposing Hillary is Ben Carson or Bobby Jindal? Are Mrs. Clinton’s supporters then racist? It’s hard to keep straight!
Cynthia: Of course supporting a qualified male Republican candidate doesn’t mean you are sexist, just as wanting a qualified woman to serve doesn’t mean you’re a man-hater or racist.
And thankfully for both of us, the list of potential female Republican presidential candidates is longer than (dead) Margaret Thatcher, the chancellor of Germany, Jan Brewer and Nikki Haley.
Everyone who believes in representative democracy, yearns for diversity of opinion and seeks justice should welcome a member of the majority to serve in the White House! Shouldn’t America be showing by example what equal opportunity looks like?
What can possibly explain 44 consecutive nominations and elections of men to be president of the United States, Mike?
Mike: I’m glad I’m not an “-ist.” But I really do think Zombie Thatcher could win in 2016 — hipsters would love the retro angle and Putin is making the Cold War cool again.
Anyway, what explains men’s unbeaten streak? Well, we’ve only had 15 presidents since the passage of the 19th Amendment. And in that time, only two women have received more than 200,000 votes in primary elections — Margaret Chase Smith and Hillary Clinton. So, part of the explanation is the small pool from which to choose.
And that pool — while growing — remains small vis-a-vis men. Why? You tell me. It could be because campaigning is now a bloodsport and women do not want to subject themselves to it. The strongest vitriol is often saved for women who dare step into the political arena. Remember the terrible treatment of Susan Dench?
Cynthia: It’s unfortunate that Susan Dench, Gov. LePage’s nominee to the University of Maine Board of Trustees, was not confirmed by the state Senate. The unspoken circumstances of her rebuff are likely relevant to the question of why we have yet to elect a woman to the White House.
The fact is there are plenty of qualified women from both sides of the aisle and few good reasons why not one of them has been nominated by either party to run for president. The slings and arrows of campaigning pale in comparison to what most women confront and conquer every day.
Imagine a presidential contest pitting a Hillary Clinton/Elizabeth Warren ticket against Susan Collins and Nikki Haley. Would the election be less exciting or less about issues most Americans care about?
For once, let’s be spared the traditional cockfight of a U.S. presidential race — let’s see where one of these stateswoman will lead us.
Mike: Well, I’m not sure we will see those tickets coming together. But I will agree there is a lot to be said for strong Republican women!