Saturday, January 7, 2012

Republican race far from settled

After months of build up, the Iowa caucuses finally took place last Tuesday as Republicans began the process of choosing who their nominee will be for the 2012 presidential race.

Whew! The hype leading up to Tuesday’s caucuses was as bad as the hype will be when the Super Bowl takes place in a few weeks. Since last summer, GOP candidates have risen and fallen in the polls like the temperature.

First it was Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich, then Ron Paul. The only constant has been former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney who has been toward the top of the polls since the beginning.

It is almost as if the media and the Republican Party have been trying to manufacture a compelling race between two candidates. Romney is obviously one of them but the other changes by the week.

Now that the Iowa caucuses have happened, there has been a lot of talk in the mainstream media about certain candidates having momentum and others being in trouble. This may be so.

However, there is one fact everybody must keep in mind at this point. Only one GOP candidate since 1972 has won the Iowa caucuses and gone on to win the presidency. Just one.

So, what does this mean? It means a lot of twists and turns remain in the Republican campaign. As that factoid proves, an early win in Iowa does not guarantee a win in November or even the party nomination.

I often wonder why so much emphasis is put on the Iowa elections. It is just one state of 50 that will be going through this process this year. Demographically, it is pretty generic and does not represent the cultural diversity of the United States.

Maybe its importance has more to do with our nation's short political attention span.

We live in an instant gratification society, so there is often a rush to declare a competition complete before it is complete. It is like this in all aspects of American life. It seems experts like to be the first to declare somebody or something the winner.

Especially in politics, the public seems to fall in line with this. In recent years, the public has viewed the election process as a necessary evil, and most want it over as soon as possible.

Still, it is a big mistake to take this approach. The electing of a president should be a marathon and not a sprint. However, we appear to be going the other direction when it comes to this.

The primary season has been watered down to a couple of months. This was not always the case. A generation ago the primary campaign continued into June where it climaxed with the California primary.

Despite how difficult it can be to remain focused on the presidential campaign, it is important to follow it. I can understand why people get discouraged though.

There is a lot of negativity to it. It seems when one candidate surges he or she is attacked with ruthless precision. And everything is fair game when these attacks begin.

It may be a skeleton from a candidate's personal life that occurred decades ago. It may be a slip of the tongue a person makes when under the glare of increased media scrutiny. It may be one bad decision that has nothing to do with a person’s qualifications to be president.

The bottom line is running for president is not for the faint of heart. Following the process is also not for the faint of heart.

Electing a president is like watching sausage being made. We may like the result, but it is brutal to watch.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I posted this more than two weeks ago, and the race remains unsettled (and that is a good thing). The Republicans have had three primaries, and there have been three different winners.

Remember, despite the efforts of many to condense the campaign, it is supposed to be a marathon and not a sprint. Let's hope voters get a chance to give all the candidates a good work over.