Never, ever underestimate the amount of egotism one has to have to undertake a Presidential run. Thinking that you, and only you are the one person who can solve the world’s problems is pretty haughty to say the least. Yet several politicians, businesspeople, and neurosurgeons are starting their engines for the 2016 race for the White House.
On Monday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham kind of became the latest GOP contender to toss his hat in the ring, although he was quick to point out that an official announcement won’t come until June 1st. Graham told the hosts of “CBS This Morning” that “I’m running because of what you see on television. I’m running because I think the world is falling apart.”
With Graham’s “maybe” announcement and news that both Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are both leaning in the direction of becoming candidates The Republican Party finds itself in a familiar position, a position that it did not want to be in again.
During on a segment on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” Monday night, Hayes, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, and political commentator Sam Seder discussed the possibility of the party capping the number of candidates it will host at it’s first Presidential debate this August at twelve. This, despite the fact that as of right now there are fifteen legitimate contenders. This also undoes everything that current party chairman Reince Priebus tried to do to make sure that this cycle didn’t look like the last.
No matter how you view this the GOP is in a no win situation. All of these candidates will have some significant financial backing and party bigwigs would not be helping themselves with donors of candidates who find themselves on the sideline. I really don’t think that Priebus or his second in command at the RNC, Sean Spicer have the guts to alienate an important contributor like John Arnold.
If you aren’t familiar with Arnold, he is billionaire who made his money as a trader at Enron. He also is not a fan of worker’s and their pensions, that’s why he has been putting tons of dollars behind the aforementioned Christie, who coincidentally has been making the rounds lately extolling the dangers of old people collecting Social Security. I’m pretty sure that every conservative issue is important to a guy like Arnold, but the one that takes precedent is retirement funds and how they should be distributed. If Christie is not on the stage in the first or any of the Republican debates to argue for his cause Arnold may take his billions and go home rather than contribute mightily to the eventual Republican nominee.
There is also the question of optics. Republicans, and Preibus in particular have always reacted angrily when being casted as the party of rich, middle aged, straight white men. Can they in 2016 really afford to have Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, and Carly Fiorina excluded from the debate stage when the prime time lights come on?
Now granted all three of these individuals are terrible candidates, Fiorina’s business record is a mess and not the example of leadership that the nation needs. Carson is a brilliant doctor who doesn’t have much going for him from a political standpoint, he also recently had his Herman Cain “I’ve got all of this stuff twirling around in my head moment” when he couldn’t significantly explain his tax plan to Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Jindal has been an unmitigated disaster in terms of his stewardship of Louisiana, to say that he would be far down on the GOP pecking order would be an understatement to say the least.
Even though we are talking about Republican world where racism and sexism is a thing of the past how can those three contenders be on the outside looking in when ones that are just as flawed have first class seats? And how would the party defend itself from charges that it is exclusive on race and gender, and is stuck in the past?
What is not currently being said but what a lot of people behind the scenes know is that the GOP is going to have to adopt the attitude of “the more the merrier.” Because of Citizens United’s influence on the current political landscape and the party’s dreadful record on race over the last fifty years Preibus and his colleagues know that exclusion is not an option. That is great for the public simply from an entertainment standpoint—the 2012 debates gave us some laugh out loud moments that were classic– even if it’s bad for politicians who are trying to prove that they’ve got something to offer other than “We’re not the Democrats.”