“The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.”—Eugene McCarthy.
Americans are fed up with Washington. Between our lack of foreign strategy, our indecisiveness on trade agreements, and our downright bureaucratic nature, even President Obama wishes things were as “ruthlessly efficient” on the Hill as they are in the Netflix drama House of Cards. With a Frank Underwood ticket being highly unlikely, the public is left with one question: where is the leadership of America headed?
The 2016 presidential election is a freight train, already underway, and gaining momentum as we speak. Cruz, Rubio, Trump, and Clinton are just a few contenders that have already announced bids for commander-in-chief, and the media is in a frenzy over who the next new face will be. For the Grand Old Party, it’s crucial that their choice candidate is fresh and dynamic. The GOP faces monumental problems in the years to come: the current image of “old rich white men” isn’t going to cut it anymore. They need to secure not only the young vote, but also higher margins of women and minority voters. In order to do so, their policies will need a facelift. In particular, social policies like same-sex marriage and immigration reform remain highly controversial for many voters. They could be the deciding factors in favor of one candidate.
On these issues, the 2016 race calls for a moderate contender, someone who can straddle political lines and be a mover and a shaker in DC. A recent change in the GOP’s primary process could favor such a candidate. The Iowa Caucus, a stomping ground for the Republican nomination, just announced that there will not be a straw poll for the first time in decades. In past elections, the straw poll often favored long-shot candidates—remember Herman Cain?—with extreme views. More serious contenders often embraced those views to appeal to the party’s base. With no Iowa straw poll, moderate viewpoints stand a better chance of making it through the GOP primaries. Which candidate stands the best chance of making it through those primaries? Cue Wisconsin’s young, middle-class governor, slated to throw his hat into the ring. Scott Walker, the “union-busting hero,” has already gained considerable traction with the public. An ambitious contender, his attendance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March placed him second in the polls, right under Rand Paul. Who is this Wisco-wonder, and does he stand a chance?
Walker became presidential material for the GOP with his speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January. With his pragmatic midwestern charm, he exposed the challenges, including death threats and stalking, that he, his young sons, and his wife faced due to his policy implementations. Despite the controversy, Walker didn’t waver in his plans for the good ol’ Dairy State, refusing to be “intimidated,” which resulted in an attempt to recall him in 2012. However, he made history as the first governor ever to win a recall election, and by a larger margin than his previous victory. After this occurred, his successful elimination of a $3.6 billion budget deficit, and savings of millions more through collective-bargaining reforms, has made him an even more desirable figurehead for the GOP.
As a self-proclaimed “simple man” who clips coupons and carries a brown-bag lunch to work, Walker isn’t the norm for an “ideal candidate”. For one thing, he lacks a complete college education, “thirty-four credits short” of a degree. Although Walker is with the majority of Americans (nearly 70 percent) that don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree, he’d be in the minority for the modern presidency. Of forty-four American presidents, twenty have attended one of eleven top institutions, eight of those in the Ivy League. In just the past twenty-five years, Ivy League graduates have dominated every presidential election for both parties. While an education or a family name are not necessarily indicators of how well a president will do in office, it certainly seems to be a factor for Americans when picking their ideal candidate. However, I don’t think it’s wrong for voters to choose someone who isn’t the average American. We want excellence as a country, which is in human nature. For example, would you rather have Tony Stark or Paul Blart defending our country? I don’t think a Segway would suffice in our fight against ISIS.
Granted, Walker could represent a cultural shift in ideals of presidential leadership if elected. However, this is just one facet in the entirety of his appeal as a candidate, and in other aspects, he falls short. As far as his experience and stances on issues, he isn’t as well-versed as the GOP needs for a victory. On topics like foreign policy, he raised some eyebrows on both sides of the aisle when he compared his experience of battling protesters in Wisconsin to one of taking on Islamic State terrorists. (As a Wisconsin resident, I can attest: they’re not the same.) Although he’s moderate on immigration reform, Walker’s stance on same-sex marriage and his remarks after the recent Supreme Court ruling didn’t exactly strike a high note with moderate voters. In spite of the fact that he is younger than the average GOP contender, Walker isn’t the change the GOP needs, and I doubt he and his message will resonate with women and minority voters.
Foreign threats and the state of the economy should be the top concerns of any nation (look at Greece, for instance), but social policies will certainly boost a candidate’s chances. Walker busted the unions, but that was all he could seem to talk about in his speech at CPAC. All in all, I don’t think Walker’s proven ability to balance budgets will be enough for a 2016 win. He lacks the experience, charm, and charisma that a president needs. Whether you agree with Obama’s policies or not, his ability to speak is unrivalled. The GOP needs a tenacious contender like him. Although, as an independent voter, I value some of the work that Walker has done for my home state, he has lost my vote.