By Steve Parkhurst
August 17, 2011
The Republican nomination process so far this season has been pretty intriguing to me, and it’s also been pretty comical in some respects.
This past weekend we witnessed something pretty unique in my opinion. On Saturday afternoon Governor Rick Perry officially declared his candidacy, less than 6 hours later the Iowa Straw Poll results were known, and on Sunday morning Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race. Enter stage right, exit stage left.
Now, this week we’re hearing that Congressman Paul Ryan and Governor Chris Christie are both taking steps, talking to people and focus grouping their candidacies. I am a big Paul Ryan fan. I typically refer to him as Jack Kemp Jr. I was a huge Jack Kemp fan as well. Ryan learned at the feet of the master and it shows in his policies and his approach. Governor Christie has taken it right to the unions of New Jersey. Christie has been outspoken, he’s been a soundbite machine and he’s avoided much controversy. He has also managed to rein in an out of control state during the awful conditions of the Obama Economy.
So with people here and there advocating for Ryan and Christie to get into the race, I’ve started to realize that we’re really witnessing The Starbucks Presidential Primary. So many people want so many things in a candidate, and until they find their perfect blend, I think they’re going to keep throwing names out there. I’m actually amazed that with as many candidates as we have, and had with Pawlenty’s departure, that people still can’t find what they want in a candidate.
I equate this to Starbucks in the following way: We’ve got people accustomed to walking into a Starbucks, looking at the menu for 3 minutes and then saying “I’d like a tall…no a venti, vanilla mochachino, light on the whip, non-fat, with a sprinkle of cinnamon and then two splendas added after it’s mixed, oh, and yes on the caramel syrup on top”. These same people are now choosing our nominee and even the candidates. They don’t realize you can’t order Paul Ryan’s looks, Romney’s wallet, Bachmann’s accent, Cain’s “voice of Othello” (as Jack Kemp called him once), light on the Paul, Newt’s mind and Perry’s bravado, and put together a Starbucks drink that leaves me looking at the menu wondering where that is on there, or if the customer just made it up.
Our party right now is a great example of the free market system working. Candidates enter the market place, they make a profit or they don’t, and they leave gracefully when they are no longer sustainable. And don’t misunderstand me, I’m not being critical of anyone here. Eventually, unlike the typical market place where the customer can walk away without ever making a choice, a choice will have to be made in 2012. Some will walk away without making a choice, but most will stick around and find the candidate they agree with the most, or the candidate that gets closest to their ideals.
I remember as a kid, every now and then I would go spend the weekend at my grandparents. On Sunday morning my grandfather would grab the Sunday paper and he and I would venture to a local diner where he would order coffee. The choices back then were regular or decaf, and decaf was understood to be nasty, burned, and not very desirable. We’ve come a long way in coffee choices now, thanks to Starbucks. Choice has now extended to the Republican presidential field, more so than ever before.
Maybe one day we will have a Twitter Presidential Primary, one where the candidates don’t even make personal appearances, they can either communicate to the nation via 140 characters at a time, or they can’t. Those that can not, they will be gone. Those that can, might just tweet the words:
From @PresidentElect: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of theUnited States, and will to the best of my…”
From @PresidentElect: “…ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.”
Until that time, we’re working and living in the here and now. I’m headed to Starbucks…to buy a newspaper.