Much has been said about how the Republican rank and file is viewing this election cycle’s presidential candidates with something less than enthusiasm, but no one’s addressed exactly why it is that the GOP’s candidates are so underwhelming. If one really thinks about it, the answer should be obvious. Imagine, if you will, the Perfect Republican Candidate. He would be required not just to support, but to believe:
- Schools have not just the right but the duty to cast doubt on evolution and anthropogenic global warming (and that 98 percent of climatologists and 90 percent+ of the world’s scientists are wrong);
- America can somehow drill a finite source all the way to energy independence;
- Women have no right to choice when it comes to abortion;
- Physical attraction to someone of the same sex is a deliberate choice;
- Guns make the world safer;
- ”Corporations are people, my friend”, and money is free speech;
- Government regulation is almost always a bad thing. Cars would be more efficient if the government would simply not regulate CAFE standards, the economy would do better if the government would get out of the way of big business, and it’s only okay to protect the environment if it doesn’t interfere with big business;
- Public employee unions have no right to collective bargaining;
- Anyone who supports the separation of mainstream Christian church and state is guilty of supporting President Obama’s war on Christianity;
- The Islamists are trying even now to implement Sharia law in America;
- Schools would do better jobs of teaching our children if only we’d spend far less money on schools;
- Teaching contraception (or even mentioning homosexuality) in high school sex-ed classes is a bad thing;
- And let us not forget that President Obama wasn’t born in America and/or he’s secretly a Muslim.
Now I’m sure there are several factors I left out, but the above list should be sufficient. To be sure, most Republicans will not embrace all of the above, but I feel safe in saying that most will expect their candidate to support most of these dogmatic beliefs. The problem is, most of the positions above are Looney Tunes, and the more of these that a politician supports, the more likely that politician will also be Looney Tunes, or perhaps just not that strong in the gray-matter department.
My proof? Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain all held the lead in Republican polls at one point or another. Bachmann and Cain are certifiably Looney Tunes; Perry, at least, can claim simple stupidity. Three of the four remaining candidates consist of “No abortion even for rape or incest” Rick Santorum, “Businesses have a right to discriminate against race/creed/color/religion” Ron Paul, and “Family Values” Newt Gingrich. These people are not stupid, but they are certainly Looney Tunes. That leaves Mitt Romney, who is neither stupid nor Looney Tunes. But he has flip-flopped on almost every single important issue he has ever held.
It all boils down to this: so long as the Republican rank and file demand that their candidates support positions that fly in the face of simple science and common sense, then the only candidates who will run for them will be the ones who are crazy or stupid enough to ignore science and common sense, or who are willing to ignore every position they’ve ever held for the sake of political success. In short, if you demand stupid, crazy policies, you’ll get stupid, crazy politicians.
That is why the only real point of attraction of present slate of GOP presidential candidates to the nation’s Republicans is the simple fact that they’re not Obama. What the Republicans don’t get, though, is that so long as they demand stupid policies, they’re going to get the kind of candidates they have now.