As the election draws nearer, reporters are talking to Republican voters who aren’t happy with Donald Trump and The Curmudgeon has been hearing and reading the fruits of those interviews a lot the past few weeks. These Republicans – some “traditional” Republicans and some much more conservative – can’t stomach Donald Trump and can’t see themselves voting for Hillary Clinton. A lot of them, in dismay, voice the following sentiment:
More than 300 million people in this country and this is the best the parties can offer us?
It’s a ridiculous premise, and while The Curmudgeon feels their pain he thinks the reasoning behind it is seriously flawed.
First of all, once upon a time the political parties really did the choosing: every presidential candidate came with their seal of approval. Of course, they were mostly picked in the proverbial smoke-filled room, but they were the choices of the parties nonetheless. Voters revolted over that way of doing business, though, and demanded a voice in the selection, hence presidential primaries – which have not been, you surely know, part of the process of choosing presidential candidates throughout most of this country’s history. As recently as 1968, a major party nominee, Hubert Humphrey, did not compete in ANY presidential primaries.
Not a single one.
And that leads to our second reason: Republican voters who complain about the parties not giving them a good choice of presidential candidates have only themselves and their fellow Republicans to blame because THEY chose their candidate.
That’s right: the voters chose. Republican voters CHOSE Donald Trump to be their candidate. They never gave a second thought to Chris Christie, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Lindsay Graham, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Rick Santorum; they flirted briefly, but never really seriously, never for very long, and never in meaningful numbers with Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio; and they spent a lot of time checking out Ted Cruz but only because he managed to be the last man standing other than Trump, and Republican voters found themselves repulsed by what they saw – even more repulsed, incredibly, than they were by Trump. There are some decent, credible candidates in that bunch, including some who would have had a very good chance of beating Hillary Clinton, but Republican voters showed no sign of taking any of them seriously. Most of those fringe candidates, moreover, contributed to the mess they left behind by staying in the race too long, failing to recognize the manner in which Trump was disgracing their party and debasing their country, and in a snit of self-pity refusing to encourage their (few) supporters to rally around a reasonable alternative to what they knew was the ultimate in terrible choices and instead allowing Trump to emerge from the pack like a snake uncoils from under a rock. They put their own interests and hurt feelings ahead of those of their party and their country and, in so doing, proved themselves only barely – maybe – more worthy of higher office than The Donald himself.
Certainly the Democrats aren’t responsible for failing to give these Republican voters a choice they prefer. If Republican voters want better Democratic candidates to choose from they need to change their registration and vote in Democratic primaries. (When he lived in Philadelphia, The Curmudgeon, who once considered himself an independent, registered as a Democrat because when you live where he lived, winning nomination as a Democrat in local races meant winning the race and he wanted a voice in such contests. At least twice, though, he temporarily changed his registration to vote in Republican primaries because he strongly preferred one Republican candidate over another.)
So this business about “the parties giving us such a poor choice” is a load of hogwash. Republican voters who aren’t happy with the choice of presidential candidates today have only themselves and their fellow Republicans to blame for their predicament. They are, as the old expression tells us, reaping what they have sown.
And one more thing: if these sad sacks still find themselves unable to choose between Trump and Clinton then they’re even dumber than The Curmudgeon already suspects.