There was much to complain about the GOP primary race, but we loved every minute of it.
I don’t know about you, but I was a little lost this week. Tuesday’s primaries in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island came and went and I can’t recall a peep of excitement about any of them. What happened to all of the dramatic music and patriotic graphics; the hyped up promos and perfectly coifed talking heads (OK, there a few exceptions on that point)?
For the better part of six months we have had a steady diet of incessant reminders of the most microscopic details about the GOP primary and what would happen if Mitt Romney didn’t win the state of (fill in the blank) on primary night; or if Rick Santorum did. And then, like that, it was all over. Everything just went dark. Suddenly we found ourselves trying to figure out what to do on Tuesday nights.
No more sweater-vested Santorum and his Pandora’s box of social issues or Newt Gingrich (who has announced he will “suspend” his campaign next week) and his rhetorical blasts at anything that moves, especially if it’s the media, or Ron Paul and his — by the way, has anyone seen Ron Paul?
The best political appetizer one could have was watching Romney beat up his opponents with millions of dollars in negative ads weeks prior to serving (or being served) a defeat on primary night and washing it down with hopes that Santorum would find the will (and the wallet) to carry on for just one more week! But alas, it was not to be. Reality is a cruel mistress in politics. Even the likes of Rush Limbaugh finally lamented that “the establishment candidate is the nominee.”
What’s a political junkie to do? I know, take out the trash, do the laundry and stop pretending that this stuff is important.
But in a sick, we-have-to-save-the-country kind of way, it is. That’s what motivates the grassroots and keeps us glued to the process: the sense that what we do in January will matter to the country in November.
Undoubtedly, the 2012 GOP primary process took us off the traditional path. But it was by all accounts more open, certainly less predictable and, more important, it allowed party activists to have a greater say in who the eventual nominee would be. Sure, if in January you said Romney would be the nominee you were right. But you have to admit, it was a lot more fun this time getting to your “obvious” conclusion!
Indeed, the fun part about politics is how, at some point, it draws even the most uninterested into its web. We criticize it, complain about it, outright hate it but still we can’t resist it. I had to snicker this week at the folks who’ve been complaining since Iowa that there were too many candidates or the primary season was too long or the process was too detrimental to the frontrunner, and yet they were the first to sniff at the sudden ending of it all.
Come on, admit it. There’s something fun about watching politicians try to convince our ears not to hear what our eyes are seeing. Yes, the GOP primary season is over and there were hopefully many lessons learned, but probably not.
Both the Romney and Obama campaigns have declared the general election has officially started, so for the next four months leading up to the conventions we’ll be subjected to a different kind of excitement — Veepstakes, Obama’s non-campaign campaign and Romney reintroducing himself to the American people. I guess that will excite the senses, but it’s not the same.
Michael Steele served as the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee. He is a former lieutenant governor of Maryland and a political commentator. He will be providing commentary on all things politics for BET.com each week.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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