The Republican Presidential Candidate Circus

Political cartoons appearing in Townhall recently have featured the plethora of candidates vying for the Republican Party nomination. One, by Henry Payne, features “posters” for everyone from Jeb Bush to Bruce Jenner and Christie Brinkley. Even Luke Skywalker appears on one. Another, by Gary Varvel shows elephants crowding into the starting gate for the “Presidential Derby.” And lastly, one by Steve Kelley suggests that there might be 2006 candidates on the ballot. Even the Laura Ingraham show discussed the situation on May 29, 2015 with Brett Winterble guest hosting.

The list now stands at eight declared with two pending announced declarations and it should actually total nine, because Jeb Bush is going to run, with the expectation that he can maneuver his way into the nomination by promoting the tired, old, “moderate” Republican mantra that failed the last two times out and barely got George W. Bush elected.   Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry are waiting in the wings to make the total 11 during the first week of June. Five more are “formally exploring” candidacy. This runs the potential total to 16, which is downright silly.

What Brett Winterble focused on was the primary election debates, which simply cannot handle that many people in a conventional format. There simply won’t be enough time to get 16 or more responses to a moderator’s questions. So, who do you include and exclude. Immediate calls to remove Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina as “not serious” candidates can be expected. Yet, both are popular with the voting electorate, despite their lack for public office experience, which may well be a net positive in this era of corrupt individuals running on experience. Hillary “Scandal Per Day” Clinton comes to mind. Opinion polling shows that there is no clear front-runner so far.

In past elections it was fairly obvious that the large number of candidates claiming conservative credentials split the vote allowing the moderate or even left leaning candidate to win the nomination with less than a majority, even less than a plurality of the votes. It is a sad testimonial to the state of affairs in the party when the potential candidates cannot get together to decide together which of them have the best chances of winning in November and then put the potential losers to rest for the good of the nation. After all, the electorate is frequently so fractured in opinion that they have a hard time picking a consensus candidate, let alone a winner.

If this seems anti-democratic, that’s correct. Letting the voters pick isn’t a bad idea if there is a clear-cut basis for deciding on one choice out of 31, or even 16 flavors.

Of course, a lot of this may be settled in the initial New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses. If someone or a small group of candidates pick up the label as favorites it may force others out of the race. It may take care of itself fairly rapidly, if the voters make a precise decision. Or, it may not.

One early report of some weeks ago suggested that conservative voter organizations in New Hampshire were working together to develop a consensus on one candidate and eliminate, or at least reduce, the vote splitting problem. This, if successful, and practiced in several states could be effective in settling the candidacy on one person who could, perhaps, be able to win the White House in 2016. The key state in the early going may be Texas, given that two of the major candidates hale from that state; Ted Cruz and Rick Perry.

Perry likes to bill himself as a conservative, but he was roundly criticized by conservative commentators while in office for failing to live up to the standards that he had promoted in the electoral season. Cruz, who came out of nowhere to become a favorite with the voters may overpower him with his populist appeal, which he has reinforced during his time in the US Senate. Thus, if he survives until the Texas Primary, Cruz my power to the top of the charts. But this is all speculative.

Ideally, it will be someone with Reaganesque credentials who will be the nominee, and will be able to win on that basis. What we need in the mean time is to sort them out, not based on popular recognition, or on local identification, but on their ability to repair the damage of the last six years and a like ability to avoid causing additional damage by relying on propaganda as a decision making tool. It will likely be a hard slog. Next January awaits and until then, speculation is likely useless. But let’s pray that there are no more candidates appearing. Even if one of them is Scott Walker.

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