Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Reflections on the Republican Primary

I understand the conventional wisdom that Marco Rubio will be the Republican nominee. Conventional wisdom went something like this.  There were three candidates who represented the Republican establishment -- Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker.  It was assumed that one of them would be the nominee.  Well, Scott Walker's campaign went nowhere until he got the message and dropped out.  Jeb Bush's candidacy is giving all evidence of tanking.  That leaves Rubio as the last establishment figure standing.

Challenging these establishment figures on the right are the Christian Coalitions candidates -- Ted Cruz, Mike Huckaby, Rick Santorum, and Bobby Jindal.  But these are presumed to be too crazy, even for Republican primary voters.  Challenging them on the left are the blue state Republicans -- Chris Christie and John Kasich.  But these are clearly too sane to have a chance.  And then there are the non-politicians -- Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina.  Conventional wisdom (mine included) was that these would meet the same fate as a wide range of Republican sensations last time around -- after a brief moment of glory, these would crash and burn.

Reality has not been cooperative.  Trump's lead endured much longer than it did last time around.  It has finally begun to fade, only for Carson to come to the forefront.  Apparently I was wrong when I expressed hope in the last primary that in Sarah Palin we had reached Peak Clueless.  Trump and Carson are basically male Palins, holding up their cluelessness as proof of virtue.  Both essentially say that you should vote for them because they don't understand all these complexities the Washington types keep throwing at us, and they will fix everything with plain old resolve (for Trump) or virtue (for Carson).  

A note to the Republicans.  If you must choose a non-politician as your candidate, could you please, please, please, please, please pick Carly Fiorina?  I don't know if she is any better qualified to be President than Carson or Trump, but she certainly could not be any worse qualified.  And she has at least one qualification that I consider very important in a candidate.  She appears to live in the same reality I do.  Carson appears to inhabit a completely different reality from the one I live in.  And Trump does not appear to see any need for reality whatever -- just tell whatever lies people want to hear and who cares about the consequences.  And at least one aspect of inhabiting the same reality I do that motivates Fiorina is that she appears to recognize that a President has to have at least some basic knowledge policy.  Trump and Carson, Palin-like, hold up their policy ignorance as virtue.

And if I were absolutely force to choose between Trump and Carson?  Between a candidate who inhabits a parallel reality and one who sees reality as a nuisance to be ignored?  In other words, between a knave and a fool?  The question there has to be, how knavish and how foolish.  In both cases, extremely.  Yes, I know all candidates lie to some extent, but I have never seen one as brazen, pandering, and completely indifferent to reality as Trump.  Carson thinks he understands reality, but understands a reality extremely parallel to the one most of us live in.  Trump does not seem to think that dealing with reality is part of a President's job at all.  And given that choice, I think I would very grudgingly prefer the candidate inhabiting a parallel reality to the one who has no use for the concept of reality.  Carson might eventually deal with reality if beaten over the head with it hard enough or often enough.  Trump's reaction to reality seems to be to lie and hope that it goes away.

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