SAN DIEGO, Sept. 18, 2015 – Just a few years ago, politicians with the experience of Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would have been considered lightweights who have “no business” running for the highest office in the land. Today they are being treated as establishment guys by many voters and unacceptable because they are “too much” a part of the political apparatus.
Meanwhile, the “rising stars” of the GOP are three candidates with essentially no political experience — Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Suddenly millions of Americans are comfortable with the idea of the highest office in the land being held by complete novices.
It is shocking to think of the president of the United States getting all of his or her practical experience “on the job.” That appears to be a possibility as we quickly move towards the primary season.
The “heavy hitters” of the GOP — Bush, Walker and other more experienced candidates — are essentially off the radar screen. There appears to be little or nothing they can do to get noticed, let alone get traction.
As someone who has been involved in politics and have written and spoken about it for literally decades, I find the situation frightening and it raises the question, how did it get this way? Let me count the ways.
For years the media has anointed candidates in both parties they found acceptable. There is a reason that the GOP has, with rare exception, chosen the most establishment candidates as its nominee since 1988: the media.
The media has served as a powerful “filter” of candidates and typically not a subtle one at that. Average Americans are fed up with this process. This is largely true with the Democrats as well, but not in quite the same obvious ways.
The GOP has been a very conservative party for years, yet its nominees have not reflected that in many cases. The media and its litmus tests certainly played a role in this process.
Most Americans have grown tired of being told what to do. This is not only from the media and its politically correct dogma, but also the politicians who keep telling average Americans what is and is not acceptable.
These politicians have become anathema to average Americans of all stripes. Many in the broader Donald Trump coalition are of the “Reagan Democrat” stripe that has been largely dormant since “the Gipper” left the political scene. These people are concerned about borders, culture and other issues that the media and much of the political establishment simply dismiss as “racist.” These individuals do not believe defending their country (as they see it) is racist and since that card is used so loosely, many Americans seem comfortable with embracing the media’s epitome of prejudice, Donald Trump.
Just like those who cry “wolf” too often and lose all credibility, those who overuse the “race card” find themselves in the same position. It appears very few are listening.
The “do-nothing” leaders in Congress have led many voters to look at creating an independent party within the GOP, and that is exactly why they are gravitating toward the candidates with virtually no political experience.
Cruz’s scathing attack on his party’s leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., provides a telling timeline of Republican ineffectiveness.
In that Senate floor speech, Cruz said McConnell had “lied” and that the party leadership was doing nothing for the voters that got them majorities in both houses of Congress. Cruz might have thought that his unprecedented attack would give him a significant bump in the polls, but it did not.
I believe this is because many of these angry voters cannot believe anything good can come out of any political institutions.
If Cruz wanted to get the attention of these voters by being “one of them,” he would likely have to resign his Senate seat. Those are the times we live in.
Finally, voters are rightly convinced that money is way too influential in the political process.
With the exception of Donald Trump, none of these candidates has a prayer of raising enough money without the financial assistance of major donors with a vested interest in the status quo.
That alone has propelled the Trump candidacy.
It is a romantic notion that the rich guy cannot be corrupted, and an unfounded one since Trump has admitted that he has spent much of his life financially supporting candidates of all persuasions in order to get what he wants.
Those who believe that Trump is still a fad or that only an established “name brand” will get the GOP nomination need to wake up to the reality that the voters have had enough and they seem more than willing to risk the nation’s future on someone with little or no political experience and whose political statements defy his history.
These are dangerous days indeed.