The Ballot I Will Cast in the GOP Primary
Years ago on This American Life they devoted an entire episode ruminating on fiascos. In a segment that has become a radio classic (if you have never heard it, you really should – it will have you howling) Jack Hitt describes a stage production he once witnessed of Peter Pan where everything that could have gone wrong did so. In his recounting, he hits upon the telltale sign that an event has crossed over from “things are going quite poorly” to “full fledged fiasco:”
Jack Hitt: And now, any small mistake just takes on these– any instigation for laughter is just enough for this audience… Everyone has quit being nice. Now, there’s just this kind of frightening roar that comes from the audience every time there’s a mistake.
Ira Glass: Well, what happened? At some point, the audience turned and realized, “Oh wait, I realize what’s going on here. This is a fiasco.”
Jack Hitt: Yeah –“This is a fiasco.” And what’s really interesting about a fiasco is that, once it starts to tumble down, the audience wants to push it further along.
Ira Glass: Oh, they get hungry for more fiasco.
Jack Hitt: Oh, yeah… [I]t would have been a grave disappointment had there not been just one more mistake after another, one more embarrassment after another. Now, the reason they’re there is to chronicle these embarrassments… The audience has just completely lost control. People are standing up in their seats and shouting for more. They want blood. At this point, people are actually injured in the production. And they want more. Somehow, that’s how this entire play ended.
I have been thinking about this exchange these past two month as I’ve been watching the Republican primary unfold, wondering if it would ever reach the fiasco stage. The moment I knew it had become a fiasco was when everyone I knew (myself included) was so very disappointed the Donald Trump reality-show debate had been scrapped. The primary had become little more than a joke, and we all felt cheated that what promised to be the most absurd circus-like moment had been snatched away by level-headed grown ups.
In responding to the myriad of Ron Paul posts this week, Christopher Carr laments: “It seems Ron Paul’s moment has passed here at the League, and we’ve implicitly chosen instead to support some other Republican contender.” In as much as I wrote earlier this week that I could not bring myself to vote for Paul, I can certainly see where CC might believe this of me. But it’s not true.
And so, on the eve of the Iowa primary, after much consideration, let me come out and make my Official Endorsement for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee:
None Of The Above.
That’s right, “None Of The Above.” As in, “No One.” As in, “Not One of These People Is Fit to be President.” Further more, I’d like to encourage anyone who can vote in the Republican primaries to vote the same.
I don’t want to be overly simplistic, but here are our current GOP choices for the Most Powerful Person on Earth:
• Guy who changes his positions depending on his audience with such brazen balls as to have become a self-parody, and whose staff has come out and admitted they don’t feel like they have to tell the truth in a Presidential campaign if it means more votes
• Guy who thinks our government is using $100 bills as a secret plot to create a New World Order, wants to eliminate safety nets and all government regulations, and who has published the most creepy, paranoid, and hate-filled newsletters this side of David Duke
• Guy who thinks we need to be a Christians-Come-First Nation, and who is seriously pitching that the major industry in his home state have it’s tax bill totally subsidized by all other industries
• Guy who thinks we need to be a Christians-Come-First Nation, who perpetually seems either drunk or confused when not on script, and based on his media messaging seems to think that because he lives in Texas and owns guns is a good enough reason to be President
• Guy who thinks we need to be a Christians-Come-First Nation, and thinks as President he should be allowed to eliminate courts that don’t rule the way he wants them to rule
• Gal who thinks we need to be a Christians-Come-First Nation, who tells her followers that vaccinations give girls cancer, believes she can cure “the gay” you may be experiencing, and whose chiefs of staffs/campaign managers perpetually quit in disgust
• Guy who thinks we need to be a Christians-Come-First Nation that knew literally nothing about anything he needed to know, thought “9-9-9” was an acceptable answer for any question about any issue, but is still the only one since the Summer with the decency to have dropped out by now
• Guy whom I vaguely remember having been in the race, but who dropped out with his tale between his legs after one debate
• Nice guy from Utah who may or may not have something good to say, but in this primary’s (by my estimation) 487 debates is completely incapable of communicating his vision
I want to note here that the GOP is actually full of quality potential candidates for the office of President of the United States. And each of those people, having looked at the current base of their party, has wisely decided to opt out this time around as they have correctly deduced they had no shot of winning this primary.
For the past few years, the GOP has chosen a path of self-destruction. Since having their ass handed to them in 2008, they have based every action on two guiding principles:
Guiding Principle #1: Turn the GOP itself into a Politburo-style style witch-hunt, where everyone actively seeks out the “un-pure” members of the party so that they may be vilified and purged.
Guiding Principle #2: Angrily oppose whatever Obama says he’s for, to the point of utter silliness. Even if you have to change your position when he changes his, just to make sure you’re always diametrically opposed.
So to the GOP base, I say: congratulations. You’ve completed both of those missions admirably. And now here we are: You have a short list of people that, judging by the fleeting, bouncing ball of popularity each candidate has briefly received, you yourselves know are totally unqualified to be President. Those candidates that might have actually easily won in 2012 – might have actually made great Commander in Chiefs – you have either scared away or completely ostracized. Your wish for a smaller, more “pure” party has come to fruition – and so have limitations that come with being a smaller party. Well done.
The best thing we can do for the GOP’s longterm health, in my opinion, is to strongly communicate that this path they have chosen leads nowhere. That their best hope for being politically relevant while governing, as opposed to be commercially relevant on FOX, talk radio and the NYT best seller list, is to once again try their hand at actual governance. That they should craft a vision for the future that is more than “We’re don’t like Obama.” That they should spend more time looking for common ground among those that consider themselves to be conservative, and less time trying to demonize everyone that disagrees with them about every tiny little detail. That they should stop looking at Reagan the symbol, and start looking at Reagan the man – and try to emulate that standard.
Someday, of course, the national GOP is going to get so kicked to the curb that it will do these things. When that time comes, I will take a serious look at voting for a Republican on a national level, as I have in my state’s last two gubernatorial elections. But not now. Not with this lot. This year, I’m sticking with Obama.
And for the first time ever in my life, I find myself rooting for absolutely no one to win the GOP primary.