It used to be said that anybody (well, any boy) could grow up to be president, and clearly the dozens of Republican candidates frantically trying to get noticed took that civics lesson to heart. But how can you be president if you can’t even make the cut for the televised debates – which Fox and CNN will limit to the 10 highest-rated candidates in current polls The grousing has begun. Which polls? How current? With what margin of error? “If you’re a United States senator, if you’re a governor, if you’re a woman who ran a Fortune 500 company,” said former Senator Rick Santorum, who in 2012 went from 0% to Romney’s runner-up – and is back again to 0%, “then you should have a right to be on stage.” Santorum is right (a sentence I never thought I’d write). The thing stinks.
Will it be a circus to have 18 or 20 candidates, including Donald Trump, interrupting each other? Isn’t that why we watch, waiting for a gaffe or putdown? But what’s happening now is even more demeaning, as candidates try to claw their way into the top 10 with all the dignity of reality show contestants.
Since when do broadcast companies and ever-changing polls, which together have done so much to dumb down our elections, get to choose the candidates – and, incidentally, provide superPACs one more opportunity to buy advertising? Let’s bring back the excitement and honest corruption of the old conventions, with their horse-trading in non-smoke-filled rooms. In the meantime, let them all run.