It is not at all hyperbolic to say that the voters issued an historic rebuke to the Democrats last week. There were clear indications that the Republicans would make significant gains, but I doubt anyone really expected it to go quite so well for them. It turns out that while polls are nice, ultimately the only poll that matters is the one taken on the first Tuesday in November. The results speak for themselves. As of this writing, Republicans have:
- A gain of 7 Senate seats, with 2 races undecided
- +12 seats in the House
- A total of 31 governorships
- Control of 68 out of the 98 partisan state legislative bodies
In Congress, this is the largest margin the party has enjoyed since WWII, and in the case of state legislatures (arguably, of more lasting importance) it is the first time in history Republicans have enjoyed this breadth of control. The votes make it plain: Democrats have been tried and found wanting. Republicans now have the opportunity to either show that they can govern, or to fail miserably.
After a suitable period of gloating and bathing in liberal tears, one naturally begins to consider the outlook for 2016. Thinking two years ahead, it’s likely that any hard and fast prognostications would be overtaken by events. Still, now’s the time for people to begin thinking about who they’d like to see running.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but we really ought to put a governor at the top of the ticket.
A governor is a much more natural fit for the presidency than a senator. Senators have the luxury of being able to wax philosophical (or keep mum) as they please, without any of the tedious responsibilities of actual leadership that burden governors. They can go on a Sunday show and bloviate consequence-free, for the most part. A governor must by necessity manage not only the duties of executive administration, but also establish and maintain relationships with the legislative bodies in his own state.
Sometimes, governors are forced to compromise with the opposing party in order to get things done and achieve a semblance of their political program. This is not a betrayal. This is the essence of politics. Senators of the past few years have been free to promise perfectly conservative goals that they knew would rile up the base, even though they had little chance of even being brought up for a vote (the old “boob bait for the bubbas” routine). It gets the donations flowing, but only marginally resembles effective leadership.
All this is not to say senators are valueless. There are many talented and intelligent senators sniffing around the nomination, and some of them have been doing admirable work bringing key issues to the attention of the American people. That’s exactly where they should stay.
For 2016, consider our bench. On the one hand, we have governors like Susanna Martinez, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker. On the other, we have people like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and even the potential for another Mitt Romney candidacy. Finally, on a strange but somehow still present third hand we have guys like Mike Pence, Jon Huntsman, Mike Huckabee, and John Kasich. This is not an exhaustive assessment – we’re utterly spoiled for choice.
At this time, I’m not advocating for any one person. But unless Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Marco Rubio rescues my dog from drowning, I will urge Republicans to play to our strengths and nominate a person who has a record of actual governance behind them.