Republican race is a family affair
Those who have been following the race for the Republican presidential nomination have probably been very entertained thus far in the long process. There have been colourful personalities involved, past histories examined and intense feuding among many of the candidates.
I cannot help but think of the different Republicans involved with the race like different members of a family with their own quirks that need to learn to get along.
I don’t say this to mock the Republican Party — in fact I would like to see a Republican defeat President Barack Obama in the election this November. Rather, I want to examine how the role each candidate plays and point out their need to work together.
Newt Gingrich is like an experienced and intelligent older brother. Gingrich likes to reference historical precedents and other facts when discussing what he would do as president.
Gingrich also has the maturity of an older brother, avoiding getting involved in petty squabbles with other Republicans and even complimenting them when he agrees with their positions. This seemed to work for a while, propelling Gingrich into the lead in national polls, but it did not last, primarily because his opponents launched a massive attack ad campaign against older brother Newt.
For those who remember when Rick Perry was doing well in the polls, it is hard to forget how he argued with Mitt Romney in debates, especially when Romney reached over and put his hand on Perry’s shoulder. In this way, they are like two brothers who just do not get along well and are in constant need of parental supervision (or at least supervision by a cable news moderator).
Romney is smooth and preferred by people outside of the GOF (Grand Old Family) by trying to avoid saying things that will anger people. When Perry speaks, though, a sympathetic listener has great difficulty not cringing and moderates are appalled.
As for Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, they are like little kids trying to play with the big kids. Though both are accomplished, they all entered the race without the prestige or mainstream appeal of Romney and Perry.
After Bachmann fell in the polls a few months ago, she had to grab for attention, as a young child might when being ignored. This became evident in one debate on CNN when, desperately wanting the attention of moderator Anderson Cooper so she could deliver her famous “one-term president” line, she screeched in her Fargo-sound-alike voice, “Anderson! Anderson!”
Santorum, on the other hand, only reached prominence more recently after a determined amount of work that came across as being stubborn and fruitless when compared to the successes of his fellow Republicans. After winning the Iowa caucus, Santorum has arrived in the big boys’ club — surpassing his younger Republican sister.
Other candidates are more like extended relatives than immediate ones. In particular, Ron Paul, whose positions are so at odds with the rest of the Republican field as evidenced by his apparent lack of concern with the possibility of anti-Zionist Iran developing nuclear weapons. In that sense, he’s sort of like an eccentric cousin, or that in-law you really do not want to spend time with.
The Republican field of candidates, which is now slightly smaller with Bachmann gone, is like a large family. They have their differences when it comes to particular policies, but are united philosophically against the types of policies that have been introduced under Obama — Obamacare being a prime example.
For a family to function well, there needs to be co-operation. With the general election a mere ten months away, Republicans need to take seriously the need to co-operate to defeat Obama in the general election.
Attack advertisements seem to be more common at this point in the campaign than earlier on, which threatens to leave the eventual nominee publicly obliterated before he has to run against the incumbent president.
Many of the candidates are like siblings fighting with one another, something most people with siblings know about.
Attacking other members of the family weakens the family as a whole, which is why they should follow the old commandment from the 1980s: “Thou shalt not attack a fellow Republican.”
To produce a candidate to beat Obama, the candidates must not tear each other apart, but must work together as a unit, just as good families do. Of course, that will require putting aside personal ambitions for the greater good of the group. I hope that they succeed in doing so.