Vetting Candidates 2016: American Idol Style (Part 4 of 4)

Photo courtesy of BBC

Photo courtesy of BBC

 

Experience: the new dirty word

I don’t know about you but at a time like this with so much at stake, with our very existence as a Republic, as a free and sovereign nation in such peril, sheer gut instinct tells me that hiring a pediatric neurosurgeon, a billionaire real estate and casino mogul, a corporate CEO, or a young freshman politician for the job of President and Commander-In-Chief would be insanity. It’s like putting the newly hired yeoman at the helm of a rapidly sinking ship being fired upon from all directions while trying to steer away from the malevolent whirlpool just ahead. But thanks in part to the wave of TEA Party rage at elected officials in D.C., experience is now the equivalence of corruption and mistrust; and this demand for “new blood” even over anyone who has admirably served in office has reached a crescendo of ignorance. Snap out of it, people!

I recall a time when character, experience, and a successful and impressive record actually mattered in choosing a president. How many people out there don’t care about experience and reputation when they look for a doctor, plumber, mechanic, babysitter, heck, even a hairdresser? Do we hire people just because they talk a good game about themselves and have studied up for the job, or do we take time and do some homework before entrusting the job to them? Would you let a guy with no painting experience have a crack at it in your house?  If we vet these people so carefully, why on Earth would we not do the same, or more, when hiring a president? Have we gone mad? How and when did we become so lackadaisical in choosing our leaders? As far as choosing a president goes, experience and a record are old hat and in its place we seek direction from talk show hosts and bloggers, pundits and pollsters, most who are suspended in a perpetual swoon over candidates they actually helped to create. Ironically, many of these media personalities made hay of Chris Matthews about his lovefest over Obama. I say they all owe Matthews an apology. Seriously, they do.

Yes, politicians and motivational speakers who can energize and rev up the base for the battles we fight do a beneficial service to boost our morale. Conservatives have been beaten up, lied to, and let down by our own so much lately, and with hope and trust at an all-time low, it’s important to get our batteries recharged by some rousing, inspiring orators now and then; but soaring, passionate, patriotic rhetoric with no tangible leadership experience lowers the bar exponentially for what we actually and desperately NEED in a president. Rhetoric is no substitute for experience, and Commander in Chief is not an entry level position. That’s just a 2×4 of reality to your noggins, folks. We don’t need a president on training wheels.

 

Diagnosis and the cure

We survived mild cases of American Idol Syndrome during the 2012 election when candidates rose to the top of the polls for their rousing speeches, catchy campaign slogans (remember Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan?), media smackdowns, and snark and sass put downs of Obama and then were knocked off their pedestals when another stepped in to do the same. Each “flavor of the month” enjoyed generous attention from media heads, pundits, and bloggers, and it was only after serious and dutiful Iowans weeded the field of the flash and splash that true sincerity, authenticity, and substance was revealed in the person and candidate of Rick Santorum, who despite hanging in limbo at low single digits in the polls all year, won the Iowa Caucus and 10 other states by communicating substantive truths in a winsome, articulate, relatable way that won over the hearts and trust of Iowa Caucus goers. They ignored the pollsters and pundits who wouldn’t give Santorum the time of day and instead checked him out and put him through the wringer at the 385 town hall meetings he hosted throughout all 99 counties in the state. They had the opportunity to see and hear him up close and personal, unfiltered by media bias and hype. No glitz and gimmick. Just Santorum and serious voters having real eye to eye contact in conversations about the issues they were most concerned about. In the end, this is what mattered, and the fruits of his tenacious shoe leather campaigning were never reflected in any of the polls until just days before the Caucus. His improbable victory blew the minds of all the political experts who had scoffed and laughed at his low attention candidacy. Imagine that. The critically acclaimed documentary “Caucus” by AJ Schnack captures the 2012 Iowa Caucus saga beautifully and in quite an entertaining fashion. It’s available for viewing on Netflix and iTunes and I highly recommend it.

But the media hype of 2012 pales in comparison to 2016 where we now have a full blown epidemic of American Idol Syndrome. The latest polls seem to indicate now even Iowans have fallen victim to this more virulent form of this contagion this election cycle, but fortunately there is a cure. Turn off Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Erick Erickson, Steve Deace, Ann Coulter, and all the other talking heads and political elitist pundits and “experts” who want us to defer judgment to them to pick a candidate for us because they know so much better than we do how to thwart the continuance of the Bush Dynasty . Do you seriously trust a talk show host and blogger who admits to having a mancrush on a candidate to make a clear-minded recommendation for you?? You don’t need a Pied Piper. You just need to listen to the candidates themselves. Do your own homework and compare their rhetoric and records on the critical issues of the day and what they actually bring to the table that qualifies them to take on this monumental, stress filled, 24/7 job.

 

 First line of defense: Iowans

Iowans, I’d ask you to please take this matter as seriously as you always have. It’s up to you as first in the nation to ask every candidate tough and often uncomfortable questions the rest of us don’t have the opportunity to ask, and you must continue to demand honest, straightforward, detailed answers to those questions. It’s up to you to differentiate between the showboating performers and the true and sincere statesmen focused on doing the right thing for all Americans with a real plan of action and a record you can trust they will keep their word. Who has had to study up, be coached or tutored, and who actually knows all this from the inside out, with battle scars and a record proving real hands on experience? The well-oiled political weather vanes should be easy enough to distinguish as well. The field is full of them, and they spin about this direction and that on their own egos and poll generated hot air. Weed prudently. There are a lot of copycats too. You know who the real deal is. You should be able to easily detect the policy pirates and imitators. We don’t want or need imposters regardless of how good they sound to you. We want fleshed out policy, not talking points. We can’t afford to get this wrong.

Vet smart and wisely, Iowa. You can inject a good dose of substantive, common sense antibody to combat American Idol Syndrome and stop it in its tracks before your Caucuses. Recommend to us a true and authentic Statesman, not a showman who talks a good game or sermonizes people into a euphoric trance. You did a really good job last time around. You chose well. You got it right, and America should have followed your lead. Imagine the last 3 years had voters actually done that! I know the media and RNC establishment have been trying to downplay and erode your influence on this election and with great regularity imply YOU got it wrong last time. Look no further for proof of this than the unprecedented disrespect and disregard they have for your 2012 Caucus winner.

You are the first line of defense to keep the media, and I mean ALL media including infatuated conservative talking heads, from picking and forcing a candidate on us. We are counting on you. Don’t let us down!