Here are my feelings about the Republican primary election so far:
Donald Trump: I don’t know why this man is where he is. Well, I guess I do. I get that people are furious with the Republican establishment. Some support him because they just want to blow up Washington, and he seems the most likely candidate. I get that. Some like him I think because he seems like a fighter, and he’ll make America win again. They like a candidate that actually seems proud of America. But this man is a deeply immoral, dishonest, greedy, arrogant clown. I get how people not very tuned into politics, but worried about immigration and the economy, might be drawn to a guy like him. But how could anyone with real conservative principles consider making a man like this the President of a country they claim to love? No clue. He doesn’t seem to even be aware of his own position on things. I think it’s all just another reality show to him. I think he’ll flame out before the election. I hope he does. One of the few Republican candidates I would not vote for, should he get the nomination.
Ben Carson: I really admire Carson. He seems like a very decent, good man, who really believes what he says. On that basis alone I’d be happy to vote for him. I think he’d surround himself with good people and he’d learn. But he doesn’t really seem to understand the issues very well. He doesn’t seem to understand government or politics all that much. He seems to shoot from the hip, saying things just from his feelings about issues rather than having any serious understanding of them, for the most part. Being an excellent brain surgeon doesn’t necessarily translate into statesmanship, or an understanding of how politics or economics really work. He’s another non-establishment candidate- he, Trump and Fiorina all represent the voters’ deep disgust with Washington, I think, but of those three, Fiorina seems like the only one with an actual understanding of how government should work.Speaking of which…
Carly Fiorina: I like her a lot. Feisty, smart, female (sad that it’s relevant, but it totally is, like Carson being black or Cruz and Rubio being Hispanic.) I would love to see her debate Hillary. It would be bloody. Seems a bit on the establishment side policywise, not my first choice on that front, but I think she’d govern from a place of intelligence and an understanding of how economies work. I was at Compaq when the HP / Compaq merger happened, and it was tough, but it was a tough time. Sometimes HP’s performance after that is touted as proof that Carly didn’t know what she was doing, but I think the cards were all against her anyway. The HP board fought her tooth and nail, and HP was in trouble before the merger anyway, so I am not sure how viable a criticism that really is. Long story short, I’d be happy to support her in the general, and if she’s not the nominee I hope she finds a place in the cabinet. (Something I think about several of these candidates, like Carson)
Jeb Bush: He’s done, right? He doesn’t have the principles to energize the base, he doesn’t have the charisma to be a populist. He has establishment support, but most of the party is in a deeply anti-establishment mood. He’s not fun to listen to; he doesn’t really have a lot of great ideas that I’ve heard. He seems to be riding on name recognition at the same time as the Bush name carries a lot of baggage. I don’t know whether his campaign was the product of hubris or wishful thinking or something else, but it should be clear by now that he’s done.
Marco Rubio: Of the more moderate candidates, he’s my favorite. Huge political talent, great story, fun to listen to. I find him totally problematic on immigration, and I really wonder whether he would fight on spending and Obamacare. He does seem to get what makes America tick though, and believes in the principles that make us who we are. I could probably vote for him if he were the nominee, but I wouldn’t be very happy about it.
Rand Paul: I think he’s a good man with good values. I would vote for him in a heartbeat. But he’s not going to be the nominee, I’m afraid. I saw him live here in Casper, and he just seemed bored and dialing it in, frankly. I might chalk it up to a bad day, maybe he didn’t sleep well, but he always seems like that. The only emotion he ever really seems to rise to is petulance. It’s a shame, I guess, that a man can’t get elected on just principles alone, but it’s reality. I was never really with him on foreign policy either. He adopts a lot of the liberal criticism of US foreign policy, just like his dad, too often blaming the US for every bad thing that’s happened overseas for the last fifty years. While there is plenty to criticize US foreign policy about, the leftist critique is pure fantasy. Nonetheless, the domestic issues are paramount, and I think Rand would be great on those, and I wish he could get better at communicating in time to save the campaign, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Ted Cruz: You may have guessed by now- this is my guy. There’s no candidate I agree more with issues-wise. He’s brilliant. He’s a great communicator. Some say he comes across too scholarly, like he’s always lecturing you. Maybe- but it never bothered me. I think he’s running a great campaign, managing to draw attention to himself without any real establishment support. He’s been one of the few in the Senate that has risked bad publicity for what he thought was right (like Rand Paul has, as well). He truly seems to be a man of principle. He’s been very wise to avoid criticism of the front-runners like Trump- anyone else who criticizes Trump has only been hurt by it, because they end up insulting his supporters (like I probably did above). I think Cruz, with his solid position on immigration, is in a good position to pick up Trump voters if he flames out. I think he can pick up Rand Paul supporters- I don’t know what other candidate comes closer on the constitutional issues than he. People who like Ben Carson’s social conservatism and integrity should be happy with Cruz. So yeah, I’m on Team Cruz. You should be too. One downside is I kind of would have preferred a governor, for the executive experience. But Cruz so far tops any of the governors in the race that I’ll accept that deficiency.
Of the others, the only one I really care much about is Bobby Jindal. I’d love to see him catch fire. But he’s pretty far behind. The rest of them… meh. They should all drop out. At this point, probably anybody but Cruz, Trump, Carson and Rubio have no realistic hope. It may be that if someone had enough money in the bank they could just run a tight campaign hoping some of the others flame out and they get new attention. That happened several times in the last campaign. But it’s getting pretty late in the day.
But I don’t really have a lot of hope that the political situation in this country is salvageable short of a disaster or divine intervention (or both). The problem is not our candidates. The problem is what the people want of their candidates.