"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Rights of sucession

Randy Stapilus
View from Here

Looking ahead to 2016 – yeah, a lot of people are – one of the things we know is that, conspiracy theories notwithstanding, it’ll be an open election: No incumbent president on the ballot.

And probably it will be more open than that. On the Democratic side age considerations may preclude the vice president, Joe Biden, from running, and also former presidential candidate (and Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton. Running for president, as either could tell you, is rugged, stressful, and requires enormous energy and discipline. The Democratic nomination seems more likely to go to someone a few years younger, and there’s no clear telling right now who that might be. But then, Democratic nominations, other than for incumbent president, often are hard to predict very far into the future.

Republicans traditionally have been a different matter. While many contenders may run, the nomination usually goes to someone who has an established claim on it. Leaving aside incumbent presidents, since Barry Goldwater in 1964 (the last more or less out-of-nowhere nominee), Republicans nominated a former nominee/former vice president in 1968 (Richard Nixon), incumbent president in 1976 (Gerald Ford), the previous runner-up for nomination in 1980 (Ronald Reagan), the incumbent vice president in 1988 (George H.W. Bush), an earlier nomination runner-up in 1996 (Bob Dole), a son of a former president in 2000 (George W. Bush), and former nomination runners-up in 2008 (John McCain) and 2012 (Mitt Romney).

Molds can always be broken, of course. But if Republicans stick to their long-running patterns, who is most likely to get the nomination in 2016?

The list has to start with Paul Ryan, the 2012 vice-presidential nominee, and Rick Santorum, the 202 nomination runner-up. And if you want to extend the list, using the logic of recent history, you might add Mike Huckabee (a 2008 runner-up), Jeb Bush (another son of a president) and Sarah Palin (2008 VP nominee).

The last three all seem a little improbable, though Huckabee retains visibility through his cable TV program. But Santorum already is making sounds about running again, and he can argue that he did better in the Republican primaries, with marginal resources, than almost anyone expected him to do. And Ryan is likely to be highly visible in Congress for some time.

There are other contenders out there, of course, such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, both evidently moving toward entering the race. But in trying to reach the nomination, they’ll be running against history.

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