I will be the first to admit that I was (and still somewhat am) hoping the Republicans can pull someone with executive branch experience into the White House come 2016. I’ve said it often enough that it would be absolutely dishonest to say anything to the contrary. I genuinely believe that someone who has dealt with the legislative branch from the outside would do better than someone who has dealt with it solely from the inside.
Then Rick Perry, arguably the most successful executive of the bunch, bowed out. Yesterday, Scott Walker bowed out. Bobby Jindal is making little headway (though time will still tell on him). George Pataki, Jim Gilmore, and John Kasich are still things we as a culture are currently allowing to happen (despite Erick’s best attempts in that last case). Where did we go so wrong?
Well, the elephant in the room (that is suspiciously shaped like a donkey) is Donald Trump. However, he’s not the only reason the executives are failing.
In the case of Rick Perry, the money stopped coming in. One argument I’ve heard is that his taking on Trump so directly when Trump was still sharply rising hurt him in his attempts to appear as an outsider. I’m more inclined to think that, despite how much better he sounded this cycle, people couldn’t shake off the stigma of “Oops.”
In Scott Walker’s case, Erick and others have said and will say this much more eloquently than I will here: Scott Walker goofed hard in interpreting the Republican base. Not that it’s entirely his fault, mind you, but still. Here’s a dude that the base absolutely loved because he kicked ass and chewed bubblegum, and because of his fiscal policies in Wisconsin, there was enough money to buy more gum. However, Walker’s campaign was staffed by people from Washington D.C. – a group of people who know how to ruin a good thing (you know, like the chance to dethrone Barack Obama after a single term).
I don’t know entirely what’s holding Jindal back so early, but it is early. As others drop out, some money is bound to open up (rumors of Walker funders going to Rubio and Bush will hinder this, but there will be others), so I think he has a chance to hold on for a while.
Gilmore is often mistaken for someone who is actually a candidate, Pataki somehow made it onto a debate stage and proved he shouldn’t be there, and John Kasich’s only truly conservative claim is that he worked with Reagan.
Of those members of the Legislative Branch who are running (not including [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ] because, surprisingly, he’s running as a very [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ] kind of candidate), [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] and [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] are holding their own. [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] is still in the race, but very early in his career he showed himself to be constantly racing between the conservative, libertarian, and moderate forces within the GOP for support. I think that will hurt him (although I did see one [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] sign here in my town, so there’s hope!).
The ones at the top of the polls right now – Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, and Ben Carson – have no political experience. Of those three, the most political (meant as a compliment) is Fiorina. The most un-political is Ben Carson. The one who has acted a damn fool and it shows constantly as we begin to see his dip in the polls is Donald Trump. However, of those three, there is very little that tells us how they will do on the job at all. We just have ideas and policies they’ve mentioned. The good thing about being a non-politician is that you don’t have a political record, but the bad thing about being a non-politician is that you don’t have a political record.
You’ll notice I left one guy out of my explanation – Jeb Bush. I’m struggling to place him because, on the one hand, he was a very good governor. He has executive branch experience, and I truly love most of his stances on school choice and school funding (Common Core is another fight for another day). However, his federal policies, the idea of a dynasty within our party, and the people who are pushing him most are a huge warning flag for the base.
If it turns out that an executive doesn’t get the nod from the party, then I hope that we can pick someone with a proven conservative record and a strong will to fight the status quo. The Republican Party desperately needs a solid conservative candidate if it hopes to survive, and the D.C. Republicans need to take their hands off the race and let it play out if they want to win and consolidate power in Washington.