Moderator Lester Holt kicked off the last Republican debate by asking Vivek Ramaswamy, “Why should you be the nominee and not the former president?”
Ramaswamy ignored the question and chose instead to attack Republican National Committee Chairperson Ronna McDaniel, calling for her resignation, calling his party “a party of losers” and placing the responsibility for this accusation on her shoulders.
McDaniel may hold a high-ranking position in the structure of her party; she is chairperson.
But elections are not about party operatives. Elections are about candidates.
The best party machine in the world, with all the money in the world, will not elect a candidate that voters don’t want.
Politics is about candidates, and candidates are about leadership, and leadership is about truth and character.
That Ramaswamy ignored what he was asked, to explain why Republican voters should prefer him to former president Donald Trump, is far more relevant than issues about party bureaucracy.
Reasonable scrutiny shows that the Republican candidate selection process is working well.
Candidates are presenting themselves in the political marketplace and the marketplace is evaluating and choosing.
In the first debate there were eight candidates. In the last, there were five. In the next, three, maybe four.
I wrote in this column that when Trump decided to not participate in the debates that it wouldn’t be a bad thing. It would give the others a chance to present themselves to the public.
The greatest beneficiary of this has been Nikki Haley, who, at the time of the first debate, was polling, per the RealClearPolitics average, 3.2% nationally. Now she stands at 10.7%.
Perhaps this is really what is bothering Ramaswamy, who was polling 7.2% at the time of the first debate and now stands at 4.9%. I don’t think he can blame McDaniel for this.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose polling imploded over the course of the year, dropping from 28.8% at the beginning of January to 14.3% at the time of the first debate, has not succeeded to capture hearts and minds through the debates and now stands with little change at 14.8%.
Trump, of course, has been hovering at 50 points beyond the rest over the whole period.
And maybe this is where things will remain.
But we need an open and free market for political ideas and, to the extent that the Republican National Committee can influence this, I think McDaniel has performed reasonably well.
Does the Republican Party have challenges?
Yes, of course. But this is not because of the RNC.
The chaos that prevailed in the House in picking a speaker shows a party that is divided on important issues, and this is not a good thing. If there is disappointment regarding Republican performance in recent elections, this is the reason, not party bureaucracy.
It is clear what is wrong with the Democrats. The American people are looking for alternative answers on our big problems, and Republicans must provide a clear other voice.
How will the massive expansion of government, which translates into huge debt, huge spending and slow growth, be fixed? How will our broken entitlement systems — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — that consume some two-thirds of our federal spending, be fixed?
What is our nation’s place as leader in the free world? And how will we revitalize our deteriorated defense and military capability?
How will we restore our lost moral clarity and deal with abortion, marriage, family and children? The latest Census Bureau projection showing a shrinking and aging country does not portray a nation with a future.
The Republican candidate that chooses to courageously and honestly answer these questions can capture hearts and minds of American voters.
Meanwhile, civility will help. It is worth remembering Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.”
Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the weekly television show “Cure America with Star Parker.”