Postmodern Conservative

Politics & Policy

Candidate Diversity

So I have to admit that, as a citizen of Georgia, I’m once again ticked off that list candidates from which I will be able to choose in my primary will be short and not very diverse.

Originally, there was considerable — even unprecedented — diversity among the 15 or so credible candidates. In New Hampshire, there’s still a little. There’s Trump — a class unto himself – three governors (one former), and two young Cuban-American Senators representing formerly Confederate states. That last category is remarkably detailed, of course.

The governors, taken together, could easily get more than 30 percent of the vote in New Hampshire (or not, given that everyone really knows said vote is almost surely wasted). If there were some kind of rule that would allow one of them to take credit for the combined governor vote, he (likely Kasich but maybe Bush) would survive. Although I can’t say I’m a Kasich supporter, I really do know a good number of Georgia Republicans who think of him as more competent and sensible than the two senators. So for that reason and others, I hope (against all reason) that he will get to hang on as a fundamental alternative. Generally, there must be something to preferring a chief executive with a record of accomplishment to a senator who’s legislative record might be labeled self-indulgent (Cruz) or rather perfunctory (Rubio). 

We might get to choose Trump in Georgia, but we also know that his chances for the nomination have already become fairly ghostly. And in any case, he’s not really a Republican and all that.

On Cruz and Rubio: I’m with Pete (below). I think Cruz is too strident in both rhetoric and thought; I don’t buy the brand of pervasive crisis and imminent collapse of the republic. The combination of his extreme religiosity (which would be unprecedented, I think, in an actual Republican nominee) and what seems to be his hostility to the minimalist entitlements etc. people rely on would be death in November. Many have written of the naïveté of his tax and health-care schemes. He’s too ideological — much more so, as Pete pointed out, than Reagan. He doesn’t put enough emphasis on what he would do to make the lives of ordinary people better. I haven’t even mentioned his transparent Machiavellianism, which will eventually fail him. I respect Cruz’s brains and work ethic, and I know people (mainly from Texas) who really like him. But for now, I need an expanded menu of choice. 

Rubio: I just don’t know at this point. He’s smart and eloquent, and it would be great for the Republicans to finally have the good-looking, young, and capable guy. But he doesn’t have enough of a solid record to trust. And his Senate career reminds many of Obama’s. Most of all, I’m not sure he’s up to the challenge of the campaign, much less the presidency. To focus even more, I’m doubting he’s a match for Cruz, even if every establishment guy and big donor lines up behind him. I’m still vetting this guy.

All in all, it’s easy to whine about how undemocratic our current nominating process is, whatever may have been the intention of its founders. But soon enough I’ll probably choose from the menu of Cuban-American Senators. It will also be great, of course, to see the Republicans adding more diversity to the campaign than one or the other of the old white Democrats.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...

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