This has been the most disappointing primary season in my lifetime. Granted, that is a little hyperbolic—I’m only 30—but, come on! As 2014 was drawing to a close, I was sure the 2015-2016 GOP primary was going to be epic. Truthfully, it has been epic, just not in the way I expected—and in a way that is much less to my liking.
Before we get to this primary season, let me take you back to a little over three years ago to show you why I was so excited. Specifically, let me take you back to December 2012. Many conservatives were still recovering from Romney’s defeat. Barack Obama was one of the most liberal Democrats in decades. Obamacare was an unpopular takeover of American healthcare. The economy was barely chugging along . . . and he won re-election. That seriously stung.
What helped me (and perhaps others) get over Romney’s loss quicker was the promise of the future. The GOP was going to have a plethora of great candidates: Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and probably some more I can’t remember. If all these individuals ran, the GOP would be STACKED. Best of all, most of these individuals could give Hillary Clinton a run for her money. Eventually, all but Paul Ryan chose to throw their hats into the ring. Then why has this primary season been an epic disaster?
Well, primary season is really a political marathon. It is a year of non-stop campaigning and months of debates. During that time candidate weaknesses are exposed and voters begin to pick their “favorites”—this often times leads to brutal exchanges between fans of rival candidates. What happened over the course of this primary season is that the above mentioned candidates all had major weaknesses exposed.
Ted Cruz has been shown to be an excellent debater, but he comes across as preachy in everything he says. Ben Carson is too mild-mannered and lacks policy depth. Rubio has major immigration baggage and is too scripted. Scott Walker couldn’t even make it past September (my biggest disappointment). Chris Christie’s campaign was dogged from the beginning by #Bridgegate and his moderate record. Bobby Jindal had policy depth but zero charisma. Rand Paul’s foreign policy views became outdated with the rise of ISIS. The reasons go on and on.
So, yeah, maybe I and many other GOP voters saw these candidates through rose-colored glasses in December 2012. Since then, the reality of who they are has come into focus and I haven’t liked what I’ve seen. Some of them lacked charisma (Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson). Rubio has talent, but his record gives me serious doubt about how much I can trust him. And Ted Cruz, well, Ted Cruz seems to rub everyone the wrong way, including me.
And I haven’t even gotten to Donald J. Trump. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar back in 2012—or even in early 2015. But his emergence last summer sucked a lot of oxygen out of the room. No matter what I think about Trump, there is no denying that he fundamentally changed the race. He also tapped into restlessness within the GOP electorate in a way that only someone from the outside could. GOP voters are tired of party and congressional leaders who seem to push legislation and take positions at odds with conservative principles.
If I were to use a word to describe my feeling about these primaries, it would be disillusionment. I’ve come to realize that all these “great” candidates aren’t so great. I can’t say that I am fully comfortable voting for any of them. But guess what? I am okay with that.
If I put my hope in any man (or woman) to save the U.S. government or to “Make America Great Again™,” I would have to question my sanity. A long time ago I came to the important realization that I will never see a perfect government this side of heaven. Why? Because we live in a fallen world with fallen people. People who are self-centered, disobedient, and sometimes downright nasty to their fellow human beings. In a world like that, why should I expect to ever see a perfect candidate? Why should I ever expect to see a perfect government?
Now that I think about it, I’m not so disappointed with this primary season after all. Sure, it hasn’t gone the way I had hoped. And yes, I do care who the GOP nominee is. But I am confident that God is in control and I’m confident that all I need to do is to be faithful to Him and His truth, no matter who is running for office. If these two elements are present, these primaries and this election will be all right. Maybe, after all, THAT is something to be epically excited about!