If you want to be president …

Randy Riley - Contributing Columnist

Every four years someone will say, “If you want to be the President, you must be crazy.”

Well, based on the recent forums and debates by the Republican candidates, I think that statement is absolutely, spot-on accurate. Most of the remaining candidates sound like they are certifiably nuts.

Admittedly, I’ve been a political junkie since I was a nine-year old boy.

It was the summer of 1960. The conventions were over. The presidential race between Kennedy and Nixon was in high gear. The first-ever debate between the Republican and Democrat running for the highest office in the land was coming to the Riley house. It was going to be on our own little black and white TV, in our own living room, right there in Germantown, Ohio. Nothing like this had ever happened before. I was excited.

The much studied Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 were not for the presidency. They debated for a Senate seat. Slightly over 100 years later, there had never been a presidential debate. Television had been around for nearly a decade, when on September 26, 1960, the two candidates for the presidency finally had a televised, face-to-face debate. Many experts have said that the race for the White House in 1960 was decided by the first of their four debates.

Kennedy came across as prepared, rested, youthful and ready to tackle the challenges of the presidency. Nixon looked sickly, tired and sweaty. The televised debate had less to do with substance than it did make-up.

Debating in 2016 has become more about theater than politics. It’s more about posturing than policy. It’s more about insults than ideas. And, these are only the primaries. We haven’t even gotten to the actual final presidential candidate’s debates.

Already there have been thirteen debates and five forums for the candidates in this Republican primary contest. Honestly, these forums and debates have become an embarrassment.

Name calling. Pandering to the people. Outright lies. Bullying and making fun of opponents. That is not what we should expect from people who are running for the highest office in the land, but, when the nightly news shows us the low-lights of their daily campaigning, that’s what we have come to expect. It’s embarrassing.

My Mom and I spoke on the phone this week. She told me that for the first time in his 87 years, my dad may not vote. He is so disappointed in the candidates of both parties that he may abstain. That’s truly sad.

Mom said that she is totally fed up with the process. As we talked, we agreed that if any of my childhood friends had talked and behaved like Donald Trump, I would not have been allowed to play with them. I was never allowed to associate with braggarts and bullies.

In the past several years, there have been many news reports and television programs that have focused on the problems associated with bullying and name-calling by teenagers and school-aged children. Now, our kids are being subjected to adults who are vying for the ultimate leadership position in this country and they are seeing and hearing conduct that would and should be banned from all public schools. It’s embarrassing.

Throughout this primary season, as the candidates have narrowed the field down to the final four, only one person has distinguished himself as a gentleman. Only one person has refused to lower himself to the level of insults and name-calling. We should be proud that that Republican candidate is our own Governor John Kasich.

While others lower themselves to petty fighting and insults about stupid things like the size of Trump’s hands, or how much make-up they need or how much they sweat, Governor Kasich has pointed out that he has actually brought jobs back to Ohio. He has hands-on experience with balancing budgets. He has been successful at reducing deficits while also reducing taxes. He has shown himself to be the only serious candidate on the stage. He has consistently shown us that he is the only one who doesn’t act like a total nut.

I was proud of Governor Kasich when he pledged his support to the people of America; not the strictly conservative expectations of some members of his own party. He pointed out in a TIME Magazine interview, “The Republican Party is my vehicle, not my master.”

Governor John Kasich is a good man. He deserves our whole-hearted support.


Randy Riley

Contributing Columnist

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