Wednesday, March 05, 2008

It’s Time To Pack It Up, Boys

Like that drunk guy at a party who doesn’t know it’s time to go home, that pretty much sums up presidential candidates Mike Gravel and Ron Paul. And in many respects, let’s throw in Ralph Nader as well.

Republican candidate Mike Huckabee had the good grace to bow out last night. He was clearly not even close to gaining the delegates that John McCain was able to secure to getting the GOP’s nomination.

But fellow Republican candidate Ron Paul does not want to give up his bid for the White House, even though he hasn’t even come close to second place, much less first. And that’s a shame because Paul was the type of no nonsense candidate who told it like it is and offered real plans, instead of pie-in-the-sky remedies that many love to serve up. It’s that type of gumption that has given him a small but devoted support. Sadly, that support wasn’t enough to allow the Texas congressman to win the Lone Star State, one of many states that McCain snagged away.

And Paul’s Democratic counterpart, Mike Gravel, can’t escape the duo-eclipse of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There is no evading them, no matter what Gravel supporters might think. Just like Paul, Gravel has not even come close to winning second place. And it seems that he can’t capture the type of support that Paul has been able too. Also, what’s even more embarrassing is that neither CNN, nor FOX News, refuse to even acknowledge him when showing their primary recap poll.

Then we have Ralph Nader, the independent candidate. He wants to change America, which is great but there must be a better way than wasting supporters’ time, energy and money every four years by running a losing campaign. Here’s a hard truth to Nader and his supporters: The American public told Ralph four times that they don’t want him for president! How can a guy not take a hint if he’s only running because he honestly thinks he’s going to win?

Sure, Americans admire the underdog and this is what these three gentlemen ultimately are. And some of the best underdogs have won but sometimes, they lose too. I don’t see these underdogs having their day. What becomes admiration for campaigning against top players like McCain, Obama and Clinton quickly becomes embarrassment if they don’t have the delegates, financial support or major voter turnout. Or not coming close to winning the presidential election four times in a row.

But there is no telling that to the diehard supporters of these three. Some have said that while they won’t win the presidential election, they do bring important issues to light and force the more popular candidates to address them. That sounds like a ready-made acknowledgment that their candidate is going to lose spectacularly but won’t admit it to themselves. Denial can be an ugly thing in politics.

But bringing up important issues is a great thing but running a no-win campaign and raising false hopes in supporters usually makes them look like a joke to the majority of Americans. If they truly want to bring awareness to unspoken issues, then they need to find a better alternative.

And there comes a time when the supporter has to ask the question if it’s wise to even vote for a candidate who is losing badly. The standard reply to that is that these die-hard hopefuls want change from the traditional Democrat/Republican top candidates. We can all see that. But why vote for change if the candidate has better odds of hitting the lottery than becoming president? Here’s another hard truth that supporters have to accept: There really is such a thing as throwing your vote away.

But hey, it’s a free country and one can do that. But it might be wise to actually support and vote for a third-party candidate (and at this point, Gravel and Paul are basically that since neither one is likely to get the nomination) who is strong in the polls, has backing and might have a good chance of winning.

Because if a candidate doesn’t have those three crucial ingredients for winning, and let’s use Nader as an example, then this paraphrase of the popular saying will be true: “A vote for Nader is a vote for McCain.”

It might be best that since these three have great political experience that they might actually work with Congress or organizations that have real pull in Washington and work for change that way.

Because if the only desire to run for the White House is to spread the issues, then running a campaign into the ground with little to no media attention isn’t working. And preaching to the choir only goes so far. There are better ways of doing it boys but if there is no national support like the type that McCain or Clinton has, it’s time to pack it in and think of a better approach.