By Earle I. Mack
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
These famous words from the movie “Network” could just as easily describe the voters at the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary. Republicans, outraged at a president who usurps his power and a Congress they believe has ignored their will, have affirmed the ascendancy of anti-establishment candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Democrats, wistful for “real hope and change” and perhaps fearing a return to Clintonism, where even the word “is” has no meaning, essentially split their votes between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Hillary Clinton in Iowa and have brought her to brink of extinction in the Granite State. Bernie’s “political” revolution could be upon us.
In Iowa, three out of the top four vote-getters in both caucuses were anti-establishment; while the establishment candidates were also-rans. New Hampshire voters have shown us that Trump is here for the long haul, the establishment candidates are cannibalizing each other and that Hillary is likely to be vanquished, the only question is if the FBI gets to her first.
But do voters really believe that Trump or Sanders can deliver on the overheated rhetoric they are selling? Abraham Lincoln once said, “We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot. “ Do Republicans really believe we can get Mexico to pay for a wall on the border, ship 11 million immigrants out of the country, and even abolish the IRS? And do Democrats really want to replace American exceptionalism with Sanders’ Swedish-style isolationist “Democratic Socialism”?
This reminds me of the infamous quote, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind.” These words were uttered by Rep. Earl Landgrebe (R-Ind.), who blindly supported Nixon to the bitter end of the Watergate debacle. It seems America is doing the same thing this year in both sets of primaries. Trump, Cruz and Sanders continue with their arcane pronouncements and the public wishfully goes along.
But the bigger problem facing my own party, the GOP, is that it may nominate a candidate who can’t win. Not just in November; but perhaps even at the convention. Looking beyond the primaries to the convention, a real challenge emerges: Trump, Cruz, Gov. John Kasich (Ohio), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), or any of the others may not be able to win on the first ballot. Convention rules state that once the vote gets to the second ballot, delegates are no longer bound to their candidates. This means that if the vote goes to a second or a third ballot, these delegates can then vote for anyone. These delegates are lifelong Republicans who don’t necessarily represent the angry mood of the electorate today and likely will vote more along established party lines. And since the fight in the primaries between Cruz, Trump, Rubio, and now Kasich is going to be bloody, what are the odds that these delegates will support a candidate they have been maliciously fighting against?
That’s why I and many I’ve spoken to strongly believe it’s time for the party to start thinking about a back-up plan.
And it starts with looking at what the party is angry about. The base of the party wants strong, principled leadership and results. This is why there has been a knee-jerk reaction in favor of anti-establishment candidates.
It’s not their policies that voters like; it’s their illusion of leadership. Like Moses, voters believe that somehow these candidates can lead them to the “Promised Land.” What they should look for is a candidate who is conservative and has the real proven ability to get things done.
Back to reality, is there a candidate in the field who fits that description? Yes, there is, but he’s unlikely to garner the necessary support to prevent the delegates at the convention from getting into a partisan “food fight.”
But looking past the current presidential candidates, there is a leader in Washington who does fit the bill and the party ought to start thinking about him now.
It just so happens this leader has already shown he is both committed to the major conservative principles and most importantly capable of getting things done. He has also, importantly, already been through the vetting and the grind of the national spotlight. Perhaps you have heard of him? His name is Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Ryan (R-Wis.) is a well-known conservative thought-leader who is pro-life, pro-traditional family, pro-tax cuts, pro-free markets, pro-gun, pro-Israel, and appeals to millennials. Also, it’s not an overstatement to say that he got more done in his first two months as Speaker than Congress did in the last two years. In the weeks following his election as Speaker, Ryan helped pass the following conservative policies into law: repealing the oil embargo to help American companies create jobs; banning anyone who has traveled to Syria or Iraq from visiting the U.S. without a visa; and cutting business taxes to create jobs by more than $600 billion. And on the key issue of immigration, Ryan has spoken truth to power by taking a tough stand against President Obama’s unlawful, executive action on immigration—in fact, he quashed Obama’s nightmarish illegal immigration plan.
This is called leadership, friends! Simply put, that is why Republicans need to start seriously thinking now about drafting Paul Ryan for president at the convention this summer in Cleveland. That’s plan B.