The Search for a Presidential Candidate: Part I
On Thursday, August 6, 2015, Fox News partnered with Facebook to host the first Republican debate for the 2016 Presidential race. I won’t lie: I was enraptured by the event, even though it’s been years since I considered myself a Republican. With seventeen candidates, the debate was broken into two tiers, the Big Leagues debated at 9pm, EST, while the JV aired at 5pm, EST. I won’t bore you (or myself) by listing each candidate, giving commentary or play-by-play, et cet. If you haven’t done so, please go back and read A Prologue so you know what I’m looking for and at in this election cycle.
I categorized the candidates into three groups that made sense to me. The first group were those that I just don’t see as plausible candidates, either for the nation, or for my conscience. This group is Too Little, Too Late. These candidates, I thought, were just trying to maintain a position, and I have nothing to say on their behalf. It is unlikely I would even consider casting my vote for these candidates. The second group is Great Expectations. These candidates were the ones I expected to really connect with, candidates I want to get behind and cheer on. Three candidates fell into this group. And finally, the Come Have Sunday Tacos at the Moore House group. These were the candidates that I really connected with based on their presentation at the debate, and only three made it to this group.
Today, I’d like to share with you my thoughts about the three candidates I carefully placed in the Great Expectations category.
Senator Rand Paul is the first (and obviously first) choice for my Great Expectations Group. He is probably the most blatant (and perhaps the only) Libertarian choice, if you couldn’t tell with all of that “Fourth Amendment” stuff he pummeled against Christie. I expected, by reason of Libertarian Solidarity, to be amazed and impressed by him; I simply wasn’t. While I totally agreed with his Fourth Amendment pummel, I thought his demeanor was a bit “I’m louder than you.” This is not how an argument is won or a debate is decided; more importantly, it is not how hearts and minds are persuaded. It doesn’t mean cat-poop if he “beats” Christie at this debate if people walk away shaking their heads at “two more politicians fighting about who can be louder.” The irritation and volume Paul exhibited is concerning to me for that reason.
I do appreciate that he is willing to say things that are controversial and unpopular (ie: The Fourth Amendment; calling Trump out on splitting the vote; et cet.). And I appreciate his Libertarian views. I did, however, find him very “I need to be your candidate!”
The next time I hear Paul speak, I want to hear about his tax proposal–I’ve heard rumors of glory, but for all his noise this week, I’ve heard nothing about his infamous tax proposal. I also would like to hear him express why it is important to talk about the Fourth Amendment. Look, Americans (particularly Republicans, I think) have this idea that sometimes we need to forfeit a little freedom in order to maintain safety or economic security or fill-in-the-blank. There’s a serious danger in doing so, and instead of getting into a shouting contest with Christie (and face it, you’re not going to “win” a shouting contest with a man that loud and bully), take this opportunity to remind the American people of that danger.
So yes, Paul–you’re redeemable at this point. Please. If I have to move you from one group to another (and I do; you’re not allowed to stay in the same group forever), I’d rather move you to the “Taco” group than the “Too Little, Too Late” group.
Senator Ted Cruz is the second candidate on the list. I wish I had much to say about this man, but I just don’t. I have exceptionally high expectations of him because Beck seems to like him. He seems to be relatively consistent with policy, which is good. Cruz is obviously both well-spoken and intelligent. So why did I land him in this group? Two reasons. First, there was all of this monkey-business last week about him calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a “liar.” Now listen–dishonesty is dishonesty. If McConnell lied, someone ought to call him out on it. I honestly don’t even know the context in which the L-word was used, or to what it referred. So it’s a precarious question mark for me: How do we balance the need to call one another to honesty without being the bully I referred to in A Prologue? Does calling someone a liar make Cruz a mud-slinger? Not necessarily. It made me step back. To be fair, however, the few times I’ve heard Cruz interviewed, he has graciously turned the topic back to the issues facing our nation every time the media has tried to corner him with a “gotcha” about one of the other candidates. So I do think I have to be careful not to disregard Cruz just yet.
My second issue with Cruz is probably more important. I appreciate an intelligent, articulate person–and Cruz is definitely both of these things. I wonder, though, where his convictions are. I often wonder what politicians are passionate about. It is probably easy to get caught up in the humdrum of political life, and forget that holding public office is (and should be) about serving the people who elected you. I don’t mean to imply that Cruz has forgotten this; only…that I would really love to see him get riled up about something. Not riled up like Paul or Christie or Trump; but riled up like a man who knows that the actions (or lack) of the next president are going to make or break us. Again, maybe he feels passionate. As a candidate, I want to hear it in his voice. I want to see it in his eyes. I want to sense it in his body language and his address.
So Cruz? I want to have you over for Tacos. But Tacos at the Moore House are very high honor, and you’ll have to convince me that you can handle it. I sincerely hope you do.
Finally, and with a still unconvinced heart, I offer Dr. Ben Carson. Carson has been my candidate from the first moment I heard him speak–long before we were ever discussion this election. His tone, his manner, his conviction, his respect, his humility and even keel–these won my affection early on, and continue to win me. I have an amazing amount of respect for Carson, and the diligence he exemplifies. So why am I putting him in the Expectations group?
Oh, Ben. I wish I didn’t have to.
The first question addressed to Carson was very poignant, and I found myself feeling that my feathers were ruffled a bit on Carson’s behalf (which is why you never want to vote for me–for anything). Nonetheless, Carson answered the question better than anyone could have, I think. His point was brilliant, that our Founding Fathers were not career politicians; they were thinking, working, reading, philosophical men. And I do feel that having and using a brain is a better item for your resume than your years in office.
This just…isn’t it. There’s a place in the course of history for this man–mark my words. Maybe he is a future president; maybe he is an ambassador; maybe he cures cancer; maybe he is Secretary of State; maybe…who knows? But right now, at this moment…I’m just not convinced that this is the moment or the role. There are very decisive things that need to happen under the next presidency, and I’m not sure Carson is ready to do them.
I would love to be wrong. I invite you, Carson–to show me that I’m wrong. I want to get you into that Taco group.
That’s all for now, friends. I’ll share the Taco group sometime this week. In the meantime, is there anyone you’d like to see step up their game?