Invisible Hand at Work?
So far this election season, the grassroots have spat out Republican candidates like rounds from a Gatling gun, reducing a field of nine to effectively three who could win the nomination. Which is not to overlook the Paul campaign, which is both committed to the end and garnering votes.
Going into Michigan and March beyond, so far the race is competitive. Many of us half-expected to see Romney juggernaut his way into an early sew-up. He still can. He has the money, he's vetted, he has public attention, he seems nice enough on TV. What's the problem?
Purity, to many of the vocal ones. Heart, to many of us on Main Street.
A look at the chart of issues from the Wall Street Journal seems reassuring enough as to whether a President Romney would be a huge improvement over what we have. If one shakes off perfectionism, Mitt Romney looks more electable than the others in the Fab Four.
What could be better for people who want a new face but are reluctant to trust Republicans than to see one candidate be rejected by the purists? "Well," one might reason, "if he's that bad to them, maybe he'd be OK enough for me." That's a blatant act of backing into votes, I know, but they are votes living in the great center, where elections are won.
Job one is winning.
But Romney aside, for those of us who are wishing/praying for a miracle, for some convergence of a series of most unlikely events, a Black Swan, dumb luck, the random shot, anything, to get to an open convention, there is still the option of strategic voting.
To date, it is almost as if an invisible hand is a work, pulling the cosmic voting levers so as to keep the race alive for the next round. Voting ends in June. The Tampa convention is August. The winner needs 1,144 delegate votes; 2,058 are still available. This is the last third of February. As this is published, there are 185 days to Tampa Bay.
But most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (66%) in the current USA Today/Gallup poll say the nomination needs to be decided before Tampa. That, even though 55% wish they had someone else. And the history of the poll shows the wishful ones growing in number as the campaign lingers on. Gallup draws a similarity to Republican happiness in 2012 to similar numbers in 1996: Bob Dole.
Some say an open convention poses too many risks. A draftee might have a closeted skeleton that takes him out after the convention, leaving the right without a voice on Pennsylvania Avenue.
It is true -- risk must be factored in. But given that no candidate so far ignites much warmth with Republican voters, it wouldn't hurt to see other faces. Just to keep the door ajar. What we have right now is "Romney, If We Must" followed by "None of the Above." There is room for creativity.
An open convention might still fall back on Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, or Paul. But it also might find a Condoleezza Rice or some other squeaky-clean standard-bearer who understands that if we don't assert the genius of the American tradition now, there may not be another opportunity. Someone who speaks convincingly with heartfelt conviction to America's people. Someone who believes to his core that the system works best from the bottom up, not from the top down. That Too Big to Fail doesn't work here. That health care needs to be directed by the person, not a panel. That commerce keeps us free.
We need someone who will turn the heads of the open minds in the middle who don't like the direction we're heading in. Perhaps one who didn't want the grueling campaign, and chose not to run. A draftee gets to skip the primaries. No way around the general election season. But it would start afresh, with new life in a sprint from Labor Day to the election.
Strategic voting is simple: vote for the also-rans. And ask your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn friends to do the same. It presents a fluidity unknown to American elections, but that's life in the digital age, after all. The internet changed the game. Facebook does 250,000 people before breakfast. It happens every day. This guy had three million clicks overnight, just by speaking honestly (8:43, but worth it). He had 30 million in two weeks.
Haven't we had enough Bob Doles and John McCains, who are good and decent men but who couldn't inspire passion? Who couldn't connect?
About that invisible hand. Be it John Locke's, Adam Smith's, God's, or Glinda the Good Witch of the South's, may it remain steady as she goes. Otto Von Bismarck knew about invisible hands:
"God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and Americans." Let's give the hand a leg up.