Guest Contributor: Steven Brodie Tucker
2016 could offer us the best cast of Republican Candidates we've seen to date, if Virginia Republicans take advantage of the opportunity. In 2012, Virginia Republicans found themselves choosing between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, as no other Republican candidates successfully gathered 10,000 valid signatures to get them on the ballot. Learning from 2012, let's work together to ensure our Republican primary has an opportunity to produce real conservative candidates who can capitalize upon the public’s dissatisfaction with our corrupt culture of corporate cronyism and the establishment wing, which enables it. We need to ensure a conservative candidate on our ballot that can win the White House in 2016.
Republicans, especially in Virginia, are engaged in a battle to define what the Republican Party stands for. However, we seem to be suffering from a plague of playground politics, whereby, if our candidate of choice isn't winning, we pick up our ball and go home. This is not how you build a national or statewide political party. I know that the candidate field will have been whittled down by the Virginia Primary, but candidates are out there now, searching for support, donations, and signatures, and now is as good a time as any to get involved in the process.
Maybe you are a Donald Trump supporter, but I'm sure you could also get behind other outsiders like Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson, if you're looking for fresh blood. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have been fighting for conservatives in the Senate and each have voting records and platforms that a majority of conservatives could get behind. If you're a Jeb Bush Republican, I can't imagine that you'd be terribly opposed to seeing Chris Christie or John Kasich if your man weren’t winning by the time our primary comes around.
It isn't unwise to choose your candidate early, but when these signature sheets start making their way across the State of Virginia, I'm not only signing on behalf of "my" candidate, because there are multiple candidates that I could support and who knows what this campaign will look like several months into 2016?
This is a Republican Primary season where we get to see the best the GOP has to offer and an opportunity to absorb the many different visions for the party that these candidates provide. Surely we can go through this process with them, able to support multiple candidates and to appreciate the virtues of multiple visions. In the past, we have let the ferocity and spin conducive to media ratings and detrimental to the health of a political party weary us by the time Virginia has the opportunity to vote.
I believe that this diverse crop of candidates provide us with the luxury of knowing that by the time Virginia does vote, there will be candidates we can vote for and not merely candidates we want to vote against. In that spirit, I believe it would be wise to start searching out those signature sheets slowly spreading around the State, and to sign a few. It would be a tragedy were we to find only two or three names on our ballot in 2016 when there are so many qualified candidates that we can actually vote for, happily and with enthusiasm!
Believe me, nothing spells disaster for the Republican Party in the General Election like voters feeling weary of their options in the primary. Let's work together to get great candidates on our ballot this year so that we can forget the travesty of 2012, put a conservative on the top of our ticket, and take by the White House in 2016. It starts now.
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