Whether we want to admit or not, the 2012 election and race for the GOP nomination is focused on attracting the hearts and minds of a populace suffering from a bad case of ADHD. Think about it for a moment – due to the great advances in technologies and the contributions of people like the late Steve Jobs, we live our lives in a constant “stream of consciousness.” We wake up in the morning to random songs playing through the speakers of our cellphones. We skip through the various channels on TV as we scarf down our bowl of cereal. We text and drive, which now rivals drinking and driving in accidents and deaths. We regularly take time out of our workday to update and check Facebook and Twitter, while checking in on a regular basis on Foursquare. To make matters worse, we spend our evenings flipping through the hundreds of channels available on our big-screen TVs – providing the ultimate prize in all things ADHD. Distractions galore.
The result: a confused and distracted populace. The effects have been obvious in the race for the GOP nod. More than ever before, the nominees have participated in a roller coaster of popular opinion, and bear a slight resemblance to the TV Show “Survivor,” except none of the losing candidates actually drop out.
Let’s remind ourselves how everything has gone down over the last six months: the race began fairly evenly – Romney with a sizable lead, and candidates like Bachmann, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Paul, and the rest fought for a moment in the spotlight. Pawlenty fails in his initial debates and quickly drops out, determining that now is not the time… and then casts his vote for Romney (a career-ending move). Perry enters late summer and immediately shoots to the top. Only to crash and burn when he realizes that he should probably have participated in some debates when running for governor, if only to get the practice. Cain replaces him at the top, capturing the people’s attention with a 9-9-9 plan, which got more airtime than a new hit single by Lady Gaga. Unfortunately for Cain, rumors (whether true or false) have a way of distracting and eventually becoming a burden, and Cain has felt that drop in popularity. The latest to surge to the top is Gingrich, a man with true rhetorical skill and a knowledge of conservative ideals. He has a less than consistent conservative history, but has capably indicated (in a very mediocre field) that he is more capable of expressing himself than most. The jury is still out on whether he can hold his position at the top.
Note, of course, that the race has become the “anyone-but-Mitt-please-oh-please” race, with the deluded Mittites standing strong, and on their own. Also off to the side is the “Ron-Paul-is-our-Savior-and-a-god” crowd, which actually do more to hurt Paul’s standing than Paul does himself. His supporters have an uncanny ability to violently support him and simultaneously claim that every other candidate is the scum of the earth. It becomes amusing eventually.
And so we suffer under a bad case of ADHD, seeking a nominee but failing to unite in our feelings for the “anyone-but-Mitt-please-oh-please” candidate. Each has had their time in the spotlight, but due to a variety of failures in their past, or mishandling in the present, we have failed to see a consistent candidate.
Which brings me to the antidote.
If we’re going to successfully nominate someone other than Romney, we must toss off all other distractions and focus upon what matters in this race. What does it mean to be the President of the United States, and what kind of a man or woman must you be?
First of all, you need to have strong values and morals. This means that cheating or immoral behavior in the past is a mark against you. Widespread rumors of such actions are also a downgrade.
Secondly, you need to understand the principles of small government. The issues facing us this election require that the GOP nominee understand that Washington needs to decrease for the “United States” to increase. Thus we need less government intervention and more leadership, not dictation and party division.
Thirdly, you need to have the experience to lead. The presidency is the most powerful position in the world, and it takes a particular kind of person to successfully lead a country in the 21st century. This means that the next president should have the executive experience to do so… After all, we know how the last inexperienced “leader” has performed.
Whom are we left with? Newt, for all his intelligence, has cheated in the past, and has a disputable record. Romney is king of the flip-flops. Cain has been hit with the rumor-mill, and his lack of political experience is questionable. Bachmann lacks the experience, and the support. Paul has the support, but not the charisma nor the executive experience. Santorum and Huntsman are the bottom-feeders, who like the failed Survivor candidates must drop out immediately.
Perry, for all his gaffes and mental blocks checks off on these three issues. His failings are failings of style, but not inability. Not inexperience for the position, but inexperience for the cat-fight to get there. He has no such problems of morality or values, with a strong record of being pro-life and for traditional marriage. He understands that states need to be more involved in the issues facing our country, and that Washington needs to back way off. He has the experience to lead, having governed the state with the 15th largest economy in the world.
So turn off your televisions, put down your cellphones and decide what your next move must be. Put away the distractions. Focus on the qualities and characters of these nominees. Because the character is what will shine through in the end.