So, with Mitch Daniels out of the Presidential race, what do we make of the GOP field? Daniels, despite some possible quibbles
, had a very compelling argument for his candidacy. First and foremost was his solid record as Governor. He cut government, curtailed the power of public sector unions and, just in the last few weeks, won groundbreaking education reform. Sure, he was a bit boring and something of a technocrat, but after 3+ years of flim-flammy flash and dash, a little adult supervision seemed in order.
A more compelling case, I believed, was where Daniels was from. Indiana sits in that great swath of the industrial heartland of America. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, among many other cities and towns are the bed-rock of America's industrial might. The West Coast may have the glitz and the East Coast may have the financial power, but neither is possible without the hard toil of the lunchbox crowd in the Midwest. It is the "America that works." Unfortunately, the Midwest is also the region that has been most battered by the failed policies of the last few decades. Look no further than Detroit to see what happens when progressivism's "best intentions" crash upon the rocks of economic reality.
It has been a long time since America had a President who knew and understand our industrial heartland. (Yes, I realize Barack Obama is from Illinois, but c'mon...is there any evidence his presidency-as-academic-symposium understands the first thing about how the private sector works?) A candidate from this region would not only have an innate understanding of the proverbial "Joe Six Pack", he or she would also appreciate how over-taxation and over-regulation can stifle an economic engine. A candidate who has lived among abandoned factories and shuttered steel mills would understand that the policy whims of the mandarins in DC have real-world consequences.
Daniels understood this world. But, he's out. However, based on growing on-line chatter, someone else from America's shop-floor may be about to enter the race: Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, from Michigan.
Wait, you say. A member of the House of Representatives can't run for President...you have to be a Senator or Governor. Please, that is soooooo 1990s. In the Internet Age, anyone willing to be bold and directly tackle the challenges we face can build a political movement. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul have gone a long way to prove this. But, Rep. McCotter brings something else to the table that no one else has right now:
The cool factor.
The Breitbart world is based on a simple premise: politics is not a silo, something over here. No politics is interwoven into, is part-and-parcel of, our culture. For too long, conservatives have ceded the culture to the left. We have stayed in our little policy sand-box, ignoring the broader trends swirling around us. We have placed ourselves so far downstream that when a particular policy debate arises, we are already fighting a rear-guard action.
I know from first-hand experience that McCotter gets this. A frequent guest on Fox's Redeye, an omnipresence on Twitter, and probably the best rock-n-roll guitarist among America's politicians, McCotter gets social and contemporary media. He understands the need to reach out to America's youth, who are increasingly conservative. (Or, at least until they run into the old guard of the GOP.)
As an added bonus, he was one of the few to rail against TARP and one of the first to speak out about the threats of Red China and radical Islam. Hell, his recently published book was called "Seize Freedom." Throw all this together and it isn't hard to understand why there is growing buzz that he might throw his hat into the ring.
I don't know if McCotter is going to run and this isn't an endorsement. Of course, if he were to run, he'd be an underdog. But, given the current field to date, it would be an underdog against the underwhelming. And I do think the industrial heartland, the lunch-box crowd that works, is yearning for a candidate.
"McCotter: For the America that Works."
Yeah, that kind of works.