It’s that time.
Primary season is a particularly rough patch for the GOP and it’s easy to understand why. The Republican Party is comprised of individualists, which is in stark contrast to the Democrat Party which is more hive-minded. Not to say the GOP doesn’t have collectivist tendencies. This is politics, after all.
It’s that individualism that naturally drives Republicans to fervently defend their own ideas about any given subject. Usually, with the Democrats presenting the primary threat at any given time, Republicans tend to keep their cannons aimed at the ship to their left. However, it’s primary season, and those cannons are now pointed at each other.
You might be surprised to hear me say that I don’t consider this a bad thing. I think part of the Republican Party’s strength is that it promotes intellectual rigor through debate. Internal debate is something the left often lacks, resulting in the inability to think for oneself too often and becoming subject to easily disprovable narratives.
But the strength that individualism gives the Republican Party can also be its Achilles heel. While we might be more prone to debate and critical thinking, we’re still human, and we react in human ways when the debate gets heated.
And it always gets really, really heated.
In my time covering politics, I’ve always been pressured to lean toward one candidate or another and then, from there, defend my candidate tooth and nail. Indeed, this is a pressure many Republicans feel from the get-go and it’s a proud tradition to fight each other every election season. You can see it now on Twitter, Facebook, and even in the comments section of this very website. It’s gotten so heated that even a neutral article criticizing or praising a candidate’s decisions or actions is taken as an automatic endorsement.
It’s not. In fact, it should be noted that I personally haven’t chosen a candidate yet. Between Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and even Vivek Ramaswamy, this season’s crop is coming in bountiful and we’re spoiled for choice.
And I like having a choice. At this point, I’m not committed to any one candidate because it feels like a roll of the dice this far out from the primary. At any one point, some piece of vital information or an election-changing event could happen that wholly alters the Republican landscape. Moreover, I want to see how they deal with the national stage and each other when in close proximity. I want to know who has the chops to come out on top in a field with some really hardcore contenders.
I find no benefit in making myself loyal to a singular candidate at this point.
Not only do I want more time for the candidates to prove themselves, I don’t want to get caught up in the aforementioned human tendency to buckle down on my position when it’s challenged, and I can see a lot of that happening now as the rhetoric hits pyroclastic flow levels of heat. Many Republicans are at each other’s throats in defense of their candidate and throwing fire at one another that ranges from absolutely legitimate and truthful to outright ridiculous and silly. This naturally causes anger and fury, forcing people to buckle down even further on their candidate to the point where even legitimate criticisms are ignored and the insults toward both the candidate and supporter begin. I’m not entirely sure what I’d get out of jumping into that kind of battle royale this early in the game.
Again, I don’t expect Republicans to hold hands and get along. Tearing each other’s throats out is a time-honored GOP tradition, but I have no desire to participate at this juncture. If you do, then that’s fine. I’m not trying to say that your landing on a candidate is somehow wrong or stupid. Biases exist for a whole host of reasons, but personally, I’m just not there yet.
And maybe that’s you too, and that’s great. You’re not required to be loyal to any one man. In fact, for individualists, loyalties usually revolve around an idea. Choosing the candidate that best reflects that idea is up to you and at a time of your choosing.
There’s a lot that can be learned from being an outsider looking in. Moreover, I like liking the candidates for what they are, not what people claim they are. It’s given me peace of mind that I won’t soon abandon.
At some point, I’ll choose. Just not today.