I guess Ben Carson is serious about running for president. I suspect that it is like more people who run for the Republican presidential nomination: he’s really just trying sell some books and maybe get a Fox News program. But he wants to be taken seriously. That’s why on Thursday, National Journal reported, Ben Carson to the GOP Establishment: I’m Not “Crazy.” It seems that the only reason that people think he’s crazy is because of the mainstream media. You see, they are always looking for gotcha moments. Like when Huffington Post reported, Ben Carson Likens Islamic State to American Patriots’ Willingness to Die for Cause. And why? Just because he, you know, likened ISIS to the founding fathers.
It brings up an interesting question. Why is it that the Republican presidential nomination is such a freak show when the Democratic one is not? I’m not talking about Rick Santorum. He is part of a long and glorious tradition of “issue” candidates. The Democrats have those too. In fact, Howard Dean had intended to be an issue candidate, but his campaign took off. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m talking about candidates like Herman Cain, Carly Fiorina, and now Ben Carson. You just don’t see major Democratic candidates for president who are comparable. In order to be taken at all seriously as a Democrat, you must have actually, you know, been in government before.
Part of this is just based upon the fact that Republicans have no shame and they will do anything for a buck. The best example of this is Newt Gingrich. He clearly ran for president in 2012 simply to sell whatever it is that he sells. When he managed to win two state primaries, it doubtless came as an unpleasant shock to him. Unlike issue candidates like Santorum, Bachmann, and Paul, I don’t think he was interested in being president. But I don’t think this desire on the part of Republicans — small and mighty — to cash in is the main thing that drives the freak show. I think it is more philosophical than that.
Republicans believe that governance requires no skill. And by and large, when they are in charge, they demonstrate that technically, you really can be the president and not know what you are doing. As I’ve discussed before, political amateur Arnold Schwarzenegger showed that being smart and committed was not enough to properly run the state of California. We needed a professional, and we got one when we elected Jerry Brown.
So who cares that Alan Keyes (2008) or Herman Cain (2012) or Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina (2016) have no actual political experience! The Republican Party don’t need no stinking experience. It probably isn’t a coincidence that all of these candidates are members of under-represented groups in the Republican Party. Since the party doesn’t especially appeal to minorities and women, it doesn’t have “farm teams.” Look at the list of African Americans in the House of Representatives. There are currently two Republicans — and they just got in. If the party isn’t going to vote for you anyway, you might as well run for president.
Even among supposedly real candidates, there isn’t much seriousness on the part of the Republicans. Sarah Palin couldn’t even wait for a full term in office. That still amazes me. I know that she is a fairly stupid, incredibly ignorant, and shallow person. But if you had just been through a very damaging presidential election, wouldn’t you go back to work as governor and try to prove all your detractors wrong? But even Mitt Romney — who actually got the nomination — left the governorship as soon as he could. These are people who are not interested in governing. It reminds me of the end of Primary Colors, when Stanton says:
Those people who do it just for the prize? They are the Republicans. They don’t value what the president does, but they want to honor of having the job. Get ready for the circus. It’s coming soon to a television near you.