Occasionally I am asked if I ever considered running for political office. My response: “I did once, but I took two aspirin, lay down for a while and the feeling went away.”
Besides not wanting to accept a pay cut, why would I want to put myself through the agony of exposing the smallest misdeed and bad decision to political opponents and a ravenous media who could turn my public image into something no family member would recognize? Not to mention the amount of money I would have to raise that would go up exponentially the higher the office sought. With each donated dollar a little piece of my soul, character and integrity must ultimately be exchanged. Why else do people donate if they don’t expect something in return? Might that something somehow dilute whatever virtues I am perceived to possess?
What I have just described are major reasons why people who might be smart and capable enough to run for office decline the “honor.” Who looks forward to having one’s sins exposed by the media and gloating opponents who seek to destroy a fellow candidate, rather than beat him (or her) on the field of ideas? If I were to run I would issue a press release on every sin I can remember having committed, because for the media and the other party (and sometimes with candidates in one’s own party) it isn’t about what one has done, as much as what one is hiding.
Looking at today’s remaining field of presidential candidates reminds me of a quote from John F. Kennedy when he ran for president in 1960 against the legacy of the Eisenhower-Nixon administration. “We can do better,” said JFK.
We certainly can, but the signs offer little reason for optimism.
On one side in this presidential contest we have a tired old warhorse, Hillary Clinton, whose chief qualifications for office appear to be her gender and a sense of entitlement after sticking with her adulterous husband. She has no real accomplishments to which she can point. The other Democratic candidate is an even older dinosaur who metaphorically wants to change America’s initials from USA to ATM, with free stuff for all, paid for by taxing “millionaires and billionaires.” Millennials, who apparently have no clue about economics, drink the red Kool-Aid like members of a cult.
On the Republican side there is Donald Trump. Polls show Trump has unified much of America like few other politicians. Unfortunately for him, most are unified in opposition.
There is Sen. Ted Cruz, who might save the GOP from Trump, but who needs to work on his own likeability.
Ohio Governor John Kasich remains in the race for reasons known only to himself. Kasich is proving the cynicism of baseball coach Leo Durocher’s line, “nice guys finish last.”
There must be a better way to nominate and elect a president. The Constitution provides little guidance. There is nothing in it about parties, conventions, or length of campaigns.
Why must we endure nonstop politicking? As soon as one election ends, people start positioning themselves for the next one. Much of this is due to the voracious media, especially cable news. This fixation on politicians as saviors doesn’t benefit the country.
Can academia, or think tanks, put together a plan which points to a better way to get good people in office at lower cost and less time commitment? Would politicians of both parties accept it? It is obscene that it takes $1 billion to run for president today.
We can do better, but will we? We had better, or face the likelihood of even worse political choices in the future.
Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.