Sunday, August 09, 2015

Picking a candidate

Many GOP primary voters are finicky about the candidates. Up to a point that's a good thing. 

But at best, most political candidates are just above average. Henry Kissinger could give more sophisticated answered on foreign policy. Thomas Sowell or Milton Freidman could give more sophisticated answers on economic issues. John Frame, John Feinberg, or Robert George could give more sophisticated issues on bioethics or homosexual marriage. 

There's a certain ordinariness to most politicians. Few of them are towering intellectuals. And towering intellectuals don't necessarily make great political leaders. 

In that respect, their answers, even if right on substance, are apt to be unsatisfactory from a philosophical or theological standpoint. Most politicians are popularizers rather than high-level thinkers. Their arguments aren't all that great. They aren't the best people to make the case for a complex position. They will oversimplify. Their logic may be creaky. 

That's not the standard we should hold them to. The question is whether they have the right position, and whether their profession of that position is credible. Are they sincere, or is this just an empty campaign promise to get elected?

Likewise, do they have any proven ability to get things done? Are they just talkers?

Now, there is value in having a candidate who's articulate. Persuasive. He needs that to garner public support for his policy initiatives. So those are the basic qualifications. 

I think one reason many GOP primary voters have become so finicky is because the stakes are so high. Fact is, the presidency shouldn't be that important. During many times in American history, an ordinary man could be president. Discharging the duties of office didn't require outstanding ability. 

But because liberals resort to government to impose massive social change, the presidency takes on far greater significance than it ought to enjoy in our system of gov't. The more we require from a president, the more we require from the candidate. We expect him (or her) to be exceptional. The more we demand from the office, the more we demand from the officeholder. 

And that may be a new necessity, to counter social engineers on the left. But we really need to scale that back–way back. 

1 comment:

  1. Steve,

    Good post but I got lost at the very end. Yes, because liberals are so good at engineering social change, the presidency has taken on greater significance than it ought (in normal times). So, I also agree that at least for now it's the new necessity. Yet that lends credence to requiring more from our champion, which leads me to the dramatic scaling back to which you referred.

    Do you think the degree of this new necessity is out of kilter given the (limited?) success of the liberal ideological engineering of this age? In other words, are you saying now is the time to dial way back our hopefully temporary increasingly-necessary high-standard for the office? Or eventually, given the new necessity? Is your point that although there's a justifiable new necessity, we might have gone too far with a rigid ideal for this political deliverer?