It takes a certain amount of ego to enter the world of politics. Think about it – you’re putting yourself out to large populations and telling them to size you up, so you can step into some crucial office that could have some long-range effect on their lives. If you’re lacking, or even if you’re not, you are under a microscope. If there is anything that displeases the mob, you WILL know about it. With the advent of the internet, it has gotten even nastier, as most armchair pundits become bolder from behind their keyboards and in the anonymity of their bedrooms.
Still, knowing all this, there are those who take the chance and put their records up to public scrutiny, in a business that has become more and more like a high school popularity contest. While I’ve witnessed some humble public servants, who’s main goal is to use their office for the good of their constituency, I’ve seen more than a few power-mad, would-be tyrants. They would use public office as a way of exerting power over their community. I’ve also bore witness to a few who, for their own, bizarre reasons, don’t know when to cede defeat and bow out gracefully. They’re like the last guest at the party, when you’re really tired and you just want to clean up and go to bed, but they linger, long after the chips and dip have been exhausted. They don’t know the party is over. They really believe that as long as you’re there, and they’re there, it’s still a party!
I know that for some, politics is a true calling, and just letting go of those ambitions can be a bitter pill. That’s the ego. However, those seasoned and selfless public servants know when to say, “Enough!” An amazing example of a true statesman and servant of the people can be seen in how former Texas governor, Rick Perry, suspended his second bid for the presidency in September of 2015, with all the class and dignity those who have followed his career have come to expect. Struggling to gain traction in a glutted field of 17 GOP candidates, and short on funds, the most qualified candidate in the lot put his ambitions aside, in order to make room for the citizens to choose. As he did early in his run, when he did the right thing and stood against the gilded toad of the GOP, Donald Trump, calling him out as a cancerous growth polluting the bloodstream of the Republican party, he did what was right for the nation, not his ego. Unfortunately, others in similar straits were not so willing to let go, and drug out their campaigns for far too long. Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, even though he was having a decent enough start, bailed as soon as it became clear that he was slipping. You could call it cowardice, or you could call it good sense, but the facts are, he didn’t drag it out to an inevitable conclusion. He stepped aside and asked that others do the same, in order to allow for a stronger candidate to emerge.
With a field so large, there were quite a few who never got out of single digits in the polls. Trump sucked up most of the oxygen in the room, by riding populist anger and reality TV popularity. Fox News and the so-called “conservative” punditry acted as his 24/7 PR machine, giving starry-eyed interviews and speaking of every act of verbal flatulence as if it were a thing of rare and stunning eloquence. With that sort of coverage, and already a known name, because of WWE wrestling appearances and reality TV, he rode the popularity train to the top spot. With serious voters waking up from a long slumber, now would have been the perfect time to coalesce behind a strong candidate and take our nation back in November, but too many stayed well-past their expiration dates, keeping the votes split and allowing Trump to capitalize on the angry, possibly racist, absolutely low-info voting bloc.
Now we find ourselves down to five candidates – Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Ben Carson. Jeb Bush, love him or hate him, bowed out with grace after South Carolina, choosing to no longer be a factor in splitting up the party. With Cruz and Rubio battling it out for the #2 spot, it’s time to ask Kasich and Carson why they’re still here. The window on the time to do the right thing is closing quickly, and every day they stay, when there’s no clear strategy that would catapult them into any conceivably competitive spot, it is a day closer to a Trump run on the primaries.
I get that Kasich somehow believes he can take his home state of Ohio and suddenly turn the entire race around in his favor, but at this point, that seems like a lot of wishful thinking. The man is not dumb. He has been in the game of politics for many years. He knows how ludicrous this strategy is, yet, pride and ambition are clouding his view. He needs an intervention and a hobby, because the presidency is not in his immediate future.
Carson is an entirely different bird. He is second only to Trump, in regards to being woefully unqualified for the presidency. There is no doubt that he is a brilliant doctor and has an amazing list of accomplishments in that field. He’s good-natured and likeable, but he’s not presidential and I suspect his entire run is based on the cajoling of others to enter the race. Currently polling at the bottom of the pack, there is no good reason for him to stay in the race. There is speculation that he’s staying long enough to raise funds to pay off campaign debt. If that’s the case, I would speak directly to Dr. Carson and implore him, “Please, Dr. Carson! We will start you a GoFundMe page, but don’t drag this out, any further!” Whatever his reasons, he is now risking the future of our nation in a vanity campaign, and with it, he risks whatever good will he may have built up in the minds of voters. He will not emerge from this with the same reputation of noble character that he carried into the race.
There is so much hanging in the balance. The GOP and the conservative movement must be saved, but for that to happen, would-be leaders need to lead, even if leading means stepping aside so that others can shine.