Who will be the next president of the U.S.? And does it really matter? A few rattles have emerged from the Republican box for the 2016 election. But the most part, these aren’t the candidates local GOP voters want to see on the ballot.

Perennial candidate Rand Paul has said he’ll seek the nomination, but although he works from the right side of the spectrum, his views are mostly libertarian, and that will hurt him with staunchly conservative voters.

Ted Cruz kicked off his campaign with a tweet, but some mainline Republicans see him as a bit kooky and a lot hypocritical. His “birther” views about Obama revealed a tortured understanding about how things work, because even if Obama were born in Africa, he could run for president based his mother’s U.S. citizenship. Cruz doesn’t seem to comprehend that he, as a Canadian “birther,” suffers the same malady.

Then there’s the most recent addition to the lineup, Marco Rubio, who told NPR that Hillary Clinton is wedded to the 20th century in terms of her political and diplomatic outlook. True enough, but he then went on to prove he’s cut from the same stagnant cloth by insisting the U.S. reverse current trends and cut all diplomatic ties with Cuba, or any other country he doesn’t like. He clearly doesn’t understand that the only way to change despotic regimes in the modern world is to expose them to a better system – like our own – and he’s forgotten that American corporations are faunching at the bit to do business in Cuba else elsewhere. He seems unable to explain why restoring partial diplomacy with Cuba is bad, whereas having embassies in other countries with nightmarish heads of state – say, Vladimir Putin – is all fine and smooth.

As far as polls of local Republicans go, those aren’t the guys. Cherokee County folks have instead expressed support for Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, who are also likely contenders, and a rare few have suggested Mike Huckabee, though his history in dealing with scenic rivers makes him unpalatable; Rick Santorum, who seems to think he knows more about his faith than the pope; and Rick Perry, who is – well, from Texas. No one here talks much about Bobby Jindal or Ben Carson.

On the Democratic side is Hillary Clinton, and – as far as any other viable challengers, crickets. Pol-watchers expect her to grab the nomination without much effort. And while that satisfies the “yellow dogs” around these parts, it doesn’t do much for folks with a populist bent and an overarching concern for the impending demise of the middle class. Clinton says the middle class is her priority, but she’s never really tasted poverty, and some folks wonder whether she has any concept of the economic suffering of others, much less the commitment to alleviate it.

Although Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee would make for an interesting general election, they don’t have Clinton’s star power or fundraising machine. Joe Biden says he hasn’t made up his mind – is anyone surprised? – and forget about Elizabeth Warren; she says she’s not running.

Does anyone care? A recent online poll by the Daily Press asked readers how involved they were with a political party. Of those who responded, not a single one proclaimed deep involvement as a party leader. The same number of people said they were “fairly involved,” sometimes attending meetings and fundraisers. The vast majority – 75 percent – claimed occasional involvement, voting for candidates in their respective parties and supporting the issues. No one copped to being “hardly involved at all.” A startling 25 percent said they weren’t even registered to vote.

It’s often said that when it comes to politicians, we get what we deserve – and that’s a little scary. Locals can hardly be blamed for not wanting to get involved with either major political party, considering the state they’ve both helped put this country in. But it’s not too early to be thinking about the next election – and it’s certainly not to early to register. It’s the very least you can do.

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