For the most part I generally don't care who the Republicans and Democrats put up as their choice for president in 2016, but the prospect of listening to endless Bush-Clinton comparisons for the next 21 months, or having either of them in the White House for four years after that, is downright depressing.
I know I know, we should be judging the individuals and their own qualifications when determining whether they would be the best choice. But come on. We had four years of Bush, eight years of Clinton and then eight more years of Bush. The names have become lightning rods for opponents. If either of them get in the White House, getting beyond those ingrained animosities is going to be a huge hurdle.
Jeb Bush is making waves in Republican circles as he continues to ramp up his run. And while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has gotten some press and appears on an upward trajectory, it palls in comparison to the coverage Bush gets.
Clinton, meanwhile, is still doing the "I don't know if I'm going to run" dance, even though Democrats overwhelmingly favor her as their top choice. A movement is growing in support of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but like Walker, her support is nowhere near what Clinton has.
Beyond Warren and Clinton, the Democrats don't have a very deep bench. Vice President Joe Biden is about the only other name that gets much mention – and usually not in a favorable light. He's probably the Republicans' top choice for a Democratic nominee because he'd be about the easiest to beat.
Republicans have more contenders, as well as plenty of pretenders. But the party is so split and so cannibalistic that there probably aren't too many people who they would rally around. Look what they did to poor Rick Perry in 2012.
Among the contenders, Ben Carson has been getting a lot of positive press in conservative circles. He, Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie make for more stronger choices than are being offered by the Democrats, at least at this point. If Perry tries again, that would further strengthen the bench.
Christie and Carson would probably draw more Democratic votes if either of them gets the GOP nod. Walker has proven himself a survivor, but in doing so has likely lost some who might otherwise have followed him.
Overall though, Republicans have got to be feeling good about the number of strong choices they have this far out. No need to anoint Bush the favorite just yet. But if the Democrats can't come up with anyone besides Clinton, you can pretty much bet that the GOP money will rally behind Bush.
That's too bad. Despite their individual credentials, their names alone closely tie them to the past, and a rising tide of animosity and decline of civility demonstrated by leaders of both parties. Republicans despised Bill Clinton. And while George H.W. Bush didn't generate as much negativity during his term, the fact that he didn't get re-elected demonstrates that he laid the foundation for those who later would come to despise the Bush name when George W. became President.
Regardless of the reasons why, though, having another Clinton or another Bush in the White House would keep too many people focused on the past. Getting beyond that would be a huge challenge for either of them.
Getting beyond the partisan divide that grows seemingly every day in Washington is going to tough for anyone who rises to the presidency in 2016. But perhaps if Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is successful in his efforts to bring Democrats and Republicans together in Maryland, his leadership style could serve as a blueprint for the next president.
Hogan has to get through this year's budget process first though. And while there still seems to be a baseline of effort being put forward toward bipartisanship, the Democrats are sharpening some of their attacks already, and that will only continue in the coming years as they attempt to block Hogan from any meaningful accomplishments so they can set the stage for a Democratic return to the Governor's Mansion in 2016. The strategy worked against Gov. Robert Ehrlich, and you can bet that they will be trying it again in their efforts to regain some power lost.
But Hogan has tapped Democrats as well as Republicans for important positions, and that could be the key that keeps his efforts moving forward. If he can develop more of a shared responsibility attitude in Annapolis it might just pay off.
Developing that same type of atmosphere in Washington would be harder, but not impossible. You just need to have people who want to work together. Getting some fresh faces in the campaigns and some new ideas would help that process along, but it will be almost impossible if there is another Clinton or another Bush in the White House.
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Jim Lee is the Carroll County Times' Editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.