Barack Obama has changed a lot of the rules of American politics in his seven plus years as President, some good but mostly all bad. Even before he became president, Obama challenged and demolished one of the great shibboleths of American politics. Before Obama, Presidential candidates where men (and women) who climbed up through the ranks of their party, normally holding office for a number of years. Obama turned that on it’s head, trading experience for dynamism and a political record for a stirring message of hope and change. In changing the rules, he single handedly defeated the most powerful political couple in the Democratic Party. Never has a president come to office with so short a political resume. Obama’s rise as a senator was equally interesting, since the last sitting senator to get elected president was John F. Kennedy in 1960.
The GOP historically wants a president with executive experience and do not want a candidate whose experience level matches what Obama brought in 2008. This is a big reason why Trump is rising in the polls. Obama’s thin resume in their backgrounds. Cruz and Obama share a similar background as lawyers while Obama and Rubio share a past in state legislative politics and a compelling personal history. While both Rubio and Cruz are hot critics of Obama, it’s the Obama model that both are attempting to follow as they attempt to craft messages to inspire the party instead of talking about their records and what they have accomplished in their careers.
The Republican Party has always been the party of governors, particularly Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Nearly every Republican I talk to thinks executive experience is superior to legislative. Shoot, even the previous two Democrats where governors, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. This election cycle had no shortage of governors attempted to run and, surprisingly, went nowhere. But one man who does have his own form of executive experience is Donald Trump. This is an underappreciated problem that Cruz and Rubio are having in taking down Trump. One of the more effective critiques that Trump has employed is his years of experience as a CEO, businessman and someone who builds things. That kind of message still resonates with Republicans and it’s one neither Cruz or Rubio can communicate.
You hear it over and over, we don’t want our own Obama. Criticizing Obama as unready to be President, to then turn around and nominate his political clone on the Republican side strikes many as foolish. Many Republicans, it appears, would rather have that executive experience than a choice of two untested and ideological senators. No matter how vain and crude that man with executive experience is. Now I’m not arguing this is the only reason Donald Trump is currently beating both Cruz and Rubio, but it is a part of the Republican psyche that has been around for forty years. I believe this is a big reason that the GOP is settling on Trump over the two young senators.
The GOP historically wants with executive experience and do not want a candidate whose experience level matches what Obama brought in 2008. This is a big reason why Trump is rising in the polls.