Time To Go
I’m a softie.
Yes, I can come off as brash and callous, particularly when it comes to politics, but not so in real life. If you’ve seen the biggest movie on the planet – and it’s on you if you haven’t – I choked up a little when a certain so-and-so died.
So I, as a human being with feelings, take no joy in what I’m going to say here…even if it seems like I am. But it’s time for a few of the Republican presidential candidates to go.
No one wants to be told it’s over. Nobody wants to get dumped. But it happens. Better to leave the scene early, on your own terms, than be the one standing, sweaty and sloppy, when the lights come on.
Ben Carson, your story is an inspiration. Thank you for the lives you’ve saved, both by your own hands and by the procedures you’ve pioneered. And for the lives you’ve saved and changed through your Carson’s Scholars program. You’re truly an inspiration, in a league of your own when it comes to who you are as a man. I’m glad I share the planet with you; you’ve made it a better place.
That said, it’s just not going to happen for you. You had your time in the sun – those weeks where your name topped the polls and the wind was at your back. But the weather has changed. The concept of a walk-on president appeals, but the wheels have come off your campaign. So much promise and so much money with so little to show for it. It’s not what you want to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Your campaign staff is fleeing – rats don’t abandon buoyancy. Your endorsement matters now; it won’t if you continue to fight. With all due respect, you simply weren’t ready.
It’s the fault of your brilliance, really. You’ve accomplished what was thought impossible with the human body. Why not in politics? Because, while the body fights with you to survive, politics fights back.
Carly Fiorina, you’ve shown what a strong, brilliant woman really is. The media did all they could to destroy you, to hide your story, lest others be inspired by you. It didn’t work. A gnat can’t blot out the sun.
That said, it’s just not there. I understand the desire to see this through, at least for the first few votes. But, like Carson, the more votes you don’t win the further your stock drops. You shine in debates, then disappear. You have an opportunity to influence the discussion through an endorsement, not the ballot box. But only while you have support.
Rick Santorum, it’s time. You had a good run in 2012 as the anti-other-people-in-the-race vote, but it’s not 2012 anymore. You last won an election 16 years ago. You’re a great family man, it’s time to go be that and work hard to elect the GOP nominee.
You can cover the social conservative flank, and then you’d make a great cabinet secretary, maybe Interior. But the Oval Office simply isn’t going to happen. The sooner you admit that the brighter your future will be.
Mike Huckabee, you know you aren’t going win, right? In 2008, you ran blocker for John McCain to keep Mitt Romney off the ballot. Since then, no one has been yearning for you. Your homespun sayings aside, you haven’t been a factor. Put down the mic and pick up the bass while there are still a few people who want to hear you play.
Jeb Bush, your family has a long tradition of serving this country, as do you, and that’s not lost on anyone. It’s also an anchor on your foot that has grown to become your foot. It’s not the time for heritage; it’s time for new. And you aren’t new.
On Common Core and immigration, you and the majority of the base aren’t on the same page. You never were, really. But those issues were secondary, particularly amnesty. When it didn’t matter as an issue it didn’t matter that your position is what it is. It matters now, more than ever, and that chasm cannot be overcome. It’s one thing to be off the reservation on issues outside the “imperative of now.” It’s another to march off on your own on something so key to the present.
You stated your case. You articulated your vision. Voters passed.
I know you have a lot of money and experienced people whispering in your ear to fight, and I suspect you will – no one throws away a Powerball ticket before the drawing. Just don’t wait too long.
You may not be the next president, but you can be a leader and a statesman in the Republican Party. Your effectiveness in that role will depend not only how long you stay but how you exit. There’s a good chance the eventual nominee will be someone with whom you have a great many problems – policy or personal. How you handle that will set the tone for what comes next.
Your father and brother have, for all intents and purposes, left the public stage. You are THE Bush in the national dialogue for now, though probably not forever. How you conduct your exit will reflect both backward and forward. Florida is as important as it was when your brother won it 2000. Work to deliver that for the party again, and you will be what your father and brother weren’t – a man who dealt a significant blow against liberalism when the country needed it most.
A case could be made it’s time for Chris Christie and John Kasich to leave too, but they’re viable in New Hampshire polls and aren’t going anywhere. Rand Paul isn’t going anywhere either, if only because he worked to change the Kentucky primary to accommodate both a presidential and Senate bid.
Campaign season is winding up as voting inches closer. The crowded field has been interesting to watch, as auditions always are. But it’s time now for the callbacks. Candidates have to honestly assess their chances, which is nearly impossible when considering the ego of anyone who thinks he or she should lead the free world. Yet it must be done.
Just as important as a campaign announcement is the campaign’s end. The circus of running for office is fun to watch, but to the people who undertake it, it’s their whole lives. Still, there comes a point when candidates must, for the good of the party and for the individual, honestly admit it’s simply not their time. How and when they do that could have a more significant impact on who the nominee could be and, more importantly, who the next president is.
Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.