Tuesday, September 17, 2019

GOP Should Hold Primaries

GOP Should Hold Primaries
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 17, 2019

To very loosely paraphrase the great British Prime Minister and Statesman Winston Churchill, Donald Trump is the worst presidential candidate - except for all those others.

(“Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” - Winston Churchill, November 11, 1947)

I support President Trump, but am unhappy with two important decisions he made during the week of September 11. Firing National Security Advisor John Bolton and the notion of meeting with the Taliban at Camp David. Meeting with the Taliban in the first place is less than intelligent. Doing so during the week of 9-11 is also insensitive. And at Camp David no less. Dwight Eisenhower no doubt rolled over in his grave. 

My vote will be to reelect the president, but he is neither an imperial leader nor a king who need not face the voters. Not only will he face the voters at-large in November 2020, he should stand before the members of his own party for, at the very least, their tacit approval in state by state primaries.

If the incumbent, Trump, needs protecting from Republican voters, G-d help him when he faces the Democrat nominee. Cancelling or simply not holding primaries is an  uncommon tactic, yet both major parties have employed it in several states during the 1992 (Bush), 1996 (Clinton), 2004 (Bush), and 2012 (Obama) primary seasons. Both Trump and a number of state GOP leaders claim not holding primaries is a cost saving decision. South Carolina’s GOP said their primary would cost $1.2 million.

Yet, opinions vary. Joe Jackson, a South Carolina GOP spokesman said the party voted against holding their primary, and the Kansas GOP said it would not hold a primary because “Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party.” On the other hand, Fergus Cullen, a former GOP chairman from New Hampshire said, “This is the kind of thing that happens in autocratic nations led by dictators,” in support of primaries. Other states have not made final decisions and are discussing the matter, although Arizona is leaning toward not holding a primary.

As of this writing, there are three challengers to Trump, who he has already nicknamed “the three stooges.” Former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford, former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld have tossed their sombreros in the ring. They have a right to a balloted primary or caucus as legitimate challengers to the president, regardless of Trump’s opinion or whether or not any of the three have even the slightest chance in hell of unseating Trump. Clearly these are all ego-driven candidacies. 

Even the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D-MA) failed in his effort to take down President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 primaries, and Carter was an unmitigated disaster on so many levels. Trump, by comparison, is virtually untouchable. Yet, that does not limit people from challenging the incumbent, and perhaps the three challengers should raise the money in each state and offer to pay for the primaries or caucuses. At least then there would be no financial excuse for the various state Republican parties to balk at holding a primary or caucus.

As for the possibility of debates, the three challengers may invite Trump to participate, but it would serve him little purpose and could only hurt him. On the other hand, it would be a ratings booster should a network opt to televise such a debate. It could also serve as a pre-season scrimmage. Without Trump, it is likely only C-SPAN would cover such an event, perhaps only if the British Parliament is dissolved by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson and their sessions are preempted.

Trump’s three challengers, Sanford, Walsh, and Weld, co-wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post on Friday September 13. “Cowards run from fights. Warriors stand and fight for what they believe,” the three wrote, in an attempt to call Trump out. They need him more than he needs them. If he ignores them, while they may not go away, their influence and legitimacy will be tremendously diminished. Either way, I support both Trump and the right of his challengers to be balloted. 

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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