By William Lewis
As we look forward to 2011 in Queens, there will be few elections held next year aside from an election for county district attorney and also some judgeships. It is what could be called an “off-year election,” which occurs once every four years.
In terms of political party leadership positions, Queens Republicans are having their county convention to choose their officers, who will direct their party through the end of 2013. In addition, there may be some primaries for district leaders. There are 18 state Assembly districts in Queens with two district leaders, one male and one female, allowed in each district.
What makes these positions important is the fact that a district leader in the Queens Republican Party is also, at the same time, a member of the party’s state committee. Therefore, the Republican district leaders automatically have seats at the Republican state convention every two years and achieve a role in choosing statewide candidates.
There may also be some primaries for party members of the county committee, which makes up the county convention that will be held next September or October.
Also next year, both major political parties will start their preparations for the 2012 presidential campaign, which an increasing number of political observers believe will be the most important presidential race in our nation’s history. There was a time during the last century when there was a perception that there was little difference between our two major political parties.
That is no longer the case. There seems to be ever-increasing differences between the Republican and Democratic parties over such things as health care, taxation, the size of government, disputes over illegal immigration, foreign policy, the war in Afghanistan and an increasing number of social and cultural issues.
At this juncture, there is little consensus within the Republican Party as to who its candidates will be in 2012 for president and vice president. Within the Democratic Party, President Barack Obama is generally assumed to be the party’s candidate for re-election, although there is some talk that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may challenge Obama in state Democratic primaries in 2012 as she did in 2008. Had those primaries in 2008 been winner-take-all instead of proportional representation, Clinton might well have obtained the party nomination.
Clinton’s name has also surfaced as a possible replacement for Vice President Joseph Biden. There seems to be significant support within Democratic rank-and-file to have Clinton as the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2012. If she does have her name put in for the nomination for vice president at the Democratic national convention in 2012, Biden is expected to make every effort to obtain the nomination a second time and stay in office.
Of course, a lot will depend on how Obama views the situation at the time of the convention. Right now, he has publicly indicated that he is satisfied with the jobs Biden and Clinton are doing.
Up to this time, the presidential campaign that achieved the most interest and massive participation of the people was the election of 1840 between incumbent Democrat Martin Van Buren of New York and Whig Party candidate William Henry Harrison of Ohio. The Whig Party in 1840 was the forerunner of the Republican Party, which replaced it in the 1850s. The Democratic Party up to that time had been in power for 40 years, beginning with Thomas Jefferson in 1800. During the 1840 campaign, there were constant rallies and processions on behalf of both candidates.
We are living through rapidly changing times and there seems to be wide differences of opinion as to what those changes should be, which makes our political process so important.