I’m an occasional political writer, the former director of CPAC (2006-2011), frequent guest on Fox News, and I have no idea who I’m voting for in the 2016 Republican presidential primary election.
When friends and family ask me what I think of the candidates, I usually say I have two conditions for support: They can’t be a Baby Boomer and they have to have won an election. Arbitrary criteria? Maybe, but at least I didn’t say they shouldn’t be bald or under 6-foot tall. (For the record, the only presidential candidate I’ve ever donated to was Thaddeus McCotter.)
Until this week I would have said that I was voting for Gov. Scott Walker. One of the reasons I like Walker is because he’s a Gen X-er like me who embraces reform. Baby Boomers don’t have the mindset to get us out of a regulatory and economic mess. Our generation is never going to have the opportunities of a totally free market system handed to us from the Baby Boomers. Instead, they will continue to build a golden tomb for themselves and leave us with the bill.
But, Walker is out and there’s no use lamenting the political climate that got us to this point. After Walker dropped out, Rush Limbaugh said, “You’ve got to be good T… and that’s frustrating… You can’t cry about it because that’s what it is.”
Whatever you think of Donald Trump, he’s good TV. There is a large group of potential voters who care more about persona than policy. Perhaps it’s because they’ve been told for years that conservatives have the policy ideas, but have seen very little return. For many, it’s about sending a message that they’re not going to send another politician to do a job politicians have been shirking for years – the job of making America great again. For others, it’s about Trump echoing the growing impatience with immigration reform. (See Ann Coulter’s definitive Adios, America.)
When I suggested Trump would get out before the primaries actually happen, my Political Punks podcast cohost recently suggested that I was living in a comfortable, DC bubble. He might be right (but don’t tell him I said that). Unlike many of the candidate’s ardent supporters, he’s not a Twitter troll who just likes to pick fights. He’s an average voter who is frustrated with spineless politicians. He convinced me that there is freedom in letting go of the worry that people will make the “wrong” decisions using the “wrong” criteria. He convinced me to embrace the chaos because it’s going to happen anyway.
I’m not on the Trump train just yet, but I do see the value in shaking things up. Other candidates should look at the 2016 primary season as a time to improve on combat and style. Trump has already gotten many of them to dig deep and unleash their fighting spirit. There’s no need for the fainting couch. We have to be in top form for everything the Democrats will unleash. As John Nolte tweeted, “The guy who just won two terms did so by clearing the Senate Dem primary in Chicago using dirty tricks. Grow up, GOP. It’s not 1980.”
Americans are tired of polite political theater. I’m reminded of when President Muffley in Dr. Strangelove said, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.”
We have a deep bench of Republican candidates, including many great people who aren’t running who would be solid vice presidents and cabinet members. Trump isn’t a liability or a savior. He’s a tutor and it’s up to other candidates – many of whom I line up with more ideologically – to learn that conservatives are ready for a candidate who is willing to fight to win. Join me in embracing the chaos so that the best candidate can rise to the top.