Paragraph of the Day (Running for Office Edition)
To paraphrase Rumsfeld: you go to the ballot box with the candidate you have, not the candidate you want, or would like to have.
Of course, the current none-of-the-above mood among many Republican loyalists could simply be viewed as a vote of no-confidence in the bizarre way that we choose presidential nominees (eight months devoted to wooing 120,000 Iowa GOP caucus-goers). It is as if the Republicans finally grasp the Catch-22 of contemporary campaigning: Anyone who runs for president in an era of cell-phone cameras and Tweet-deck reporters is too crazy ever to be allowed control over nuclear weapons.
The focus on Republicans in the paragraph is because the piece is about the longing, in some quarters of the GOP, for candidates not running (e.g., Daniels, Christie, even Jeb). The basic sentiment is universal in nature, I should think, transcending not only partisan lines, but international barriers.
At a minimum, one does often feel as if the people who run for office are the ones we really least want for office. Indeed, to paraphrase Rumsfeld: you go to the ballot box with the candidate you have, not the candidate you want, or would like to have.
The lament over the quality of candidates is an age-old one, but it always seems worse in real time, I think. The funny thing is, practically every president we have ever had, save perhaps Washington, has been perceived by some substantial part of the population as, well, an idiot unfit for election (and there, in fact, people who thought that even about Washington). And yet, many of those selfsame idiots are now considered Great Americans (and in a nonpartisan way, often).
The above from Shapiro reminds me of this classic bit from the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the radio version):
The major problem – one of the major problems – for there are several – one of the many major problems with governing people is that of who you get to do it. Or, rather, of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarise: it is a well-known and much lamented fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should, on no account, be allowed to do the job. To summarise the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
This is all a combination of amusing and depressing, although ultimately it is also the case that there are far worse alternatives. There is a reason that Churchill said that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
And, really, despite all the angst and hand-wringing, we have ultimately done relatively well over the years.