As I write people are boarding a flight from Bozeman, Montana to Salt Lake City, Utah. They are doing what people do: blocking out the discomfort of flying–looking straight ahead.
My guess is that same attitude applies to today’s presidential politics. The journey is necessary, while the flight is a pain.
The high altitude view of a low altitude scrum leaves me with two impressions. As I matched images of boarding flyers with the demographic support groups for Trump or an Alternative, the Alternative was winning. Perhaps this is where observation matches polls. The current Real Clear Politics average of numerous polls show President Trump with a 43.4% approval rating, while 54.3% disapprove.
Just ahead of watching the airline boarders I read several articles on late season baseball—the rush of suspense. My team, the St. Louis Cardinals, is in first place in their division. While several veteran players are doing well, some of the most impressive late season statistics are shared by guys that were in the minor leagues a month or so ago.
All of this leads me to wonder whether the Republican Party has any leaders equal to a late season elevation to what baseball calls the Bigs (Major League). Trump’s batting average, whoops, poll numbers suggest a replacement should be considered. If his poll numbers translated to a batting average, he would be sent to Triple A ball for a rehab assignment. And, we all know, there would be no rehab.
While in Virginia City, Montana, I talked to one of his supporters. I began by asking how he liked his Governor, Steve Bullock, who is one of the several dozen running for the Democratic nomination. He said he didn’t like him as a Governor, but thought he was preferable to the current front-runners. And about Trump he said, “I don’t like the man but he fights for his policies.” And, that is where the Alternative seems to offer hope to Trump. The World Series of politics might well be contested between the Baltimore Orioles (40-86) and the Miami Marlins (45-79). Well, you get it.
In the early stages of Internet development, it was said that Bill Gates, then CEO of Microsoft, was a tail lighter. He was said to follow just behind the developing technology trends and then seize the initiative with Microsoft’s immense market power. I watched (as an investor) Microsoft move in on Netscape (the first commercial browser) and crush it with Internet Explorer.
Maybe in the Republican primaries Bill Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts, will demonstrate Trump’s vulnerability in the New Hampshire primary like Senator Eugene McCarthy did in 1968. Brief recollection: President Lyndon Johnson beat McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary, but not decisively. Weeks later, with Senator Robert Kennedy closing in on him, he announced he would not run for reelection
We are, of course, in the early stages of the 2020 Presidential election process; this is not late season baseball. But, at this point, the bettors seem to favor former Vice-President Joseph Biden and President Trump. I am staying away from the betting windows while hoping that Americans are faced with a better choice.
America needs a leader with the potential to reach out. Unity, at least to a degree, is essential if governance results are to equal the promise of America. My somewhat fanciful dream: a unifier who is also a fiscal conservative. At some point in the evolution of the United States the nation will need a leader who is not allergic to saying, “We cannot afford it.” And, an electorate that is not fanciful.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.