Three issues should dominate the public sphere these days: Fiscal responsibility, entitlement reform and civility.
Though Congress and the president largely eschew the first two, civility will be important to the 2020 elections in spite of America having a president who was elected because he was mostly uncivil — a trait which brought many voters to his side.
Yet, most voters want their president to be dignified, civil and respectful of others.
It’s sad that the public seems to have lost interest in the fiscal woes of America. They’ll only get worse as interest rates rise, and skeptics agree that America’s $22 trillion debt may never be paid-off — a sad state of affairs for the U.S. as Congress and President Trump continue their spending ways, adding debt with huge budgets and budget deficits each year.
Entitlement reform is an issue that threatens to take away something from the public — a political reality to which many Americans object. Just look at the uproar in the U.S. over the issue of welfare-to-work. Some who were forced to work for the pubic funds they received were outraged. It’s very difficult to withdraw public funding by the government once it’s issued.
The public recipients who must sacrifice don’t take well to having to pay for previously free benefits. That’s why entitlement reform has not been publicly supported as a top issue.
Civility is an issue that affects all citizens. Most American voters are uncomfortable with incivility among others — they don’t like public arguments even though public polarization exists to the point that those who disagree politically end up disliking one another, rather than continuing their friendship despite their issue disagreement.
One Spokane law professor has opined that perhaps the public could be “nudged” into caring more about the three issues mentioned, especially if a presidential candidate embraces the three issues.
Even though Purdue University President Mitch Daniels embraces all three issues, he still might not be a candidate without an appropriate “nudge.” And, he may not ever be a candidate without an eventual resignation from President Trump and a decision not to seek a second term. Though a withdrawal decision likely wouldn’t occur until late 2020, if it comes at all, “late” decisions do not favor challengers, especially since campaign money must be raised, the public must become “comfortable” with a candidate and political party convention delegates must be lined up.
Also, in Daniels’ case, his family and spouse must be consulted and be unequivocally supportive in order for him to mount a credible candidacy.
That says that a Daniels’ candidacy may not become a reality unless a public campaign is mounted soon to convince him to run. The recent Wall Street Journal article and his appearance on Firing Line convinced many that he would be an ideal candidate — refreshing, innovative, experienced and respectful of others.
America needs an inspiring Republican candidate in 2020, not someone who is always “in your face,” but one who will return dignity and honor to America, not someone whom the national press dislikes, but one who has the experience and track record suitable to return America to greatness, a condition most Americans support.
While Mr. Trump was effective in “calling out” the national press’ bias, most Americans support the return of a responsible and fair press when it comments on public figures’ actions or inactions, rather than the toxic relationship that now exists between them and the president.
When the president speaks of “draining the swamp,” he seems to mean cleaning out the nation’s capital of experienced hands in government.
While there are those who seek to profit from their government experience — the few who put their own welfare first and America second — most are true public servants. Government cannot run efficiently with only those with no prior experience in managing issues, people and government.
If draining the swamp means employing only those without experience, America will continue to struggle.
Daniels would drain the swamp of those who seek enrichment via government service in favor of having respectful and respected individuals in government who would put America first in order to bring respect to the U.S. in all things governmental, a condition that has been lacking since 2016.
While Mr. Trump has reversed improper Obama actions, he has been unable to encourage a broadening of the base that supports him. Any good president should be able to expand his or her base of support.
America should “nudge” Daniels to seek the presidency, sooner rather than later.
George R. Nethercutt Jr. served five terms in the House from the 5th Congressional District as a Republican after defeating House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, Nethercutt is the founder and chairman of The George Nethercutt Foundation.