But here’s the bad news: Some politicians still don’t get that the public, even those actively involved in politics, “get it” as to the way they operate. Witness the mess Gov. Chris Christie is facing in New Jersey, and the indictment of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
What both men reflect is an ongoing problem that haunts the Republican Party in particular. First, there is an issue of perceived myopic friendships with individuals based purely on donations and not on merit. While McDonnell’s conduct hardly seems criminal, his accepting all sorts of gifts and being cozy with one individual who likely flaunted his power over the governor is becoming standard fare in many areas of the nation.
Then there is an issue of perceived political bullying using state resources.
Christie is a victim of his own style. We know that because we’ve all seen his brusque public edicts and pronouncements over the past few years. Clearly his staff felt that they were the crowned little princes and princesses of New Jersey. And likely one had to pass through their tightly guarded gate to even reach the king. So why not close a public bridge here or threaten another political leader there with the power of the state? Right?
Wrong. The Democrats control the Justice Department and they rule, as best one can tell, with an even heavier political hand than any GOP bully these days. It appears easy for them to launch an investigation of the closing of a bridge by a Republican administration or a close relationship between a Republican governor and a donor, or to basically clear the IRS of any wrongdoing in a targeting of conservatives. They know that most of media will let them do so.
But the rules are different for Republican leaders, and some of their thick advisors and palace guards don’t recognize that. The fact is that if any bully pulpit should exist, it should be one of ideas, advocacy and persuasion. Not the closing of bridges or cordoning off of access to elected leaders with decisions being made purely by their unelected staff.
Of course, as noted many times before, Republicans love to keep the masses out of their king’s court and are notorious for attacking one another. And that brings us back to the potential change in the GOP nomination process.
Having nominated two individuals whose appeal to the American heartland and “middle class” (I still hate that term) was minimal, leaders such as Evans are seeking a new calendar for nominating a candidate for president. It would preserve traditions such as Iowa and New Hampshire as early contests, but would force other states to hold off until later. The real goal is to give the Midwest, once a major part of any GOP victory against the Democrats, a chance to have a real say in who becomes the GOP nominee.
That’s a very smart move for a party that has seen its nomination wrapped up relatively early and generally by whichever candidate wins a relatively early Florida primary. If it could help bring a state like Ohio back into the Republican fold, it would be a stroke of genius. That is if the architects of the new schedule don’t forget that they must include Florida as a critical player or risk continuing to lose its massive electoral vote to the Democrats.
As for an earlier national convention date, that too makes sense. In recent years, the GOP has held its convention so late that the nominee hardly had time to blink and the race was over. And with so little time to respond to the natural attack on whomever they nominate for Vice President, the GOP ticket was left with little time to respond to media “gotchas” and slurs.
Now if only the GOP’s leaders and advisors can get their act together so they can have a nominee worth supporting.
Matt Towery is author of the book “Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency.” He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.