Candidates who are eager to become president of the United States should be immediately disqualified. I don’t care what cocktail of truth serum, mild torture and polygraph tests we agree to use, but we must develop a method to recruit the reluctant to run the country. I have had my fill of selfish politicians these past few weeks.
Is there any doubt most of these fellas have been practicing their inauguration speeches for years? I’m sure every time they coif their hair, they stare stoically into their bathroom mirror and see an imaginary Presidential Seal behind them. (Some of them may even have a real one.) And then it gets compounded when decent candidates surround themselves with people who have hopes of access to or employment in a future presidential administration.
There’s also an emotional snowball effect for candidates who can survive deeper and deeper into a primary season. The fewer the candidates, the better the chances. And the better the chances, the harder it is to let go of the dream, making an exit that much more emotionally difficult.
It was clear to all that Marco Rubio’s exit was incredibly painful for him personally. I honestly, really, truly like Rubio. He is in many ways, the whole package. He’s young and vibrant. Well spoken. Well versed. Attractive. On the whole, a conservative — albeit a blemished one. In Idaho, Rubio attracted the support of a U.S. senator, a generous wealthy donor and vast support from active Republicans. But timing and a swelling anti-trump sentiment led many in Idaho to buck the traditional centers of influence and — for many — cast a vote for their second choice in Ted Cruz.
I was certain Rubio would exit after Super Tuesday. I was wrong. After his poor showing in Idaho and three other states one week later, I predicted — also incorrectly — that his departure would come before Florida because losing one’s own home state can so often be a career ender. But he didn’t. He risked an immense amount of political capital on the hopes that the polls would be wrong, that the tide would shift, and he’d somehow pull off a miracle. He gambled, and he lost, exiting the race a broken man with a near-empty political bank account — and a little more tarnish.
Enter John Kasich. I listened to Kasich’s surreal “victory” speech after he won his home state. Let me repeat. A sitting governor and former congressman won his home state. That’s not really a win at all. It’s a minimum expectation, unworthy of the frenzied confetti-laden celebration afterward. But what struck me most was the either disingenuous or delusional speech promising to win the rest of the remaining states, then beat Hillary Clinton and on to the White House! The whole premise of this column is that eager candidates should be disqualified. And let me add that delusional ones should, too. And if he’s doing it with an ulterior motive, that’s also disqualifying in my opinion.
The basic quest for political power breeds an unseemly selfishness that clouds judgement and delays basic prudent decision-making. When selfishness keeps too many candidates in the race, the will of the voters can become distorted, allowing a back door for a vulgar, profane, flip-flopping, anything-but-conservative, narcissistic, blowhard, insulting, billionaire charlatan. I mean, hypothetically speaking, not thinking of anyone in particular.
There’s a certain simple beauty in the fair fight of a two-person race. The only eagerness I want in my politicians is for them to exit the stage when it’s clear they should.