Far be it for me to criticize the political acumen of one Donald J. Trump who, against all odds, was able to achieve the literally unprecedented and extraordinary accomplishment of rising to the presidency without once having run for public office of any sort—and then performing at the highest level in the job.
My greatest electoral achievement was class treasurer in junior high school.
But someone has to say it—Trump endorses too many candidates.
It’s doubtful, almost impossible, that as many as he makes could be properly vetted. Even the facilities available to an ex-president wouldn’t be sufficient, given so many races across our country.
If we believe to any degree onetime Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill’s famous apothegm that “all politics is local,” you have to know a lot of “locals” to make accurate decisions. No one person has that knowledge. So, they (an ex-president who may actually deserve to be president or whoever) are reliant on “local experts” for advice, and those experts may or may not really be experts, or, equally, if not more, likely have their own axes to grind.
Worse yet is often the advice of those so-called political pros who glom onto campaigns like barnacles on a whale, never to let go. They are in many ways the most likely to mislead.
Trump’s results have been so-so in this regard. Yes, in certain senatorial races, he has reason to brag—and does—even when we aren’t absolutely sure he has made the right pick. But in other areas, such as Georgia, his recommendations haven’t helped his chosen candidates.
Here in Tennessee, you have to wonder why he jumped into the 5th Congressional District race when he did. Out of nowhere, he anointed Morgan Ortagus, the spokeswoman to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as his nominee, either oblivious to, or shrugging off, the fact that she had only moved to the state two or three months earlier and that accusations of carpetbagging would, not surprisingly and with some justification, be forthcoming.
As it turned out, Ortagus knew so little about the 5th District—or of Middle Tennessee for that matter—that she couldn’t name even one of the several state and federal highways that pass through the area and the capital city of Nashville, when questioned on a local radio show. It would be as if a Los Angeles resident had never heard of the Ventura or Hollywood freeways—not exactly a great display of local knowledge if one wanted to get elected.
This isn’t to say that Ortagus isn’t a worthy person or that she wouldn’t have been a good congresswoman. She may have. And perhaps in the future, after she has lived in Tennessee for a year or two more, she may be an admirable candidate for local or national office.
But the question remains why Trump felt the need to involve himself in a local election when there were quite a number of qualified candidates with considerable political experience in the state, almost all of whom supported his agenda.
Various explanations have been bandied about to explain this choice, but rather than engage in rumor-mongering, and since Ortagus’s premature candidacy has long since been disallowed by the Republican Party, I will go straight to my recommendation to Trump and his people.
In the majority of cases, why not let the people—your supporters—decide whom to vote for?
It would be—dare I say it—more MAGA.
The “deplorables”—call them what you will, it has been my observation as one who covered elections across the country—are actually pretty intelligent folks and remarkably well informed. They can make decisions themselves. They know the local players better, having lived with them. They may even know who supports the Trump agenda more than Trump himself, given their proximity to the people running.
I’m not asking Trump to stop endorsing candidates altogether, but only to slow down.
This constant emphasis, by the legacy media and others, on scoring Trump’s successes or lack thereof in his recommendations has been getting tedious for some time and may ultimately be pointless—a form of sound and fury signifying nothing.
I have to confess, I find the whole game of political recommendations on the tedious side. So-and-so is backing so-and-so. You have to wonder what’s really going on, who’s paying off whom for what or who is collecting chits for future elections themselves.
It’s not a very interesting or illuminating game—nowhere near as interesting as actually listening to the candidates themselves, asking some questions, and making up your own mind.