Here’s your problem, which is actually several problems rolled into one: You’re a Republican, running for president. You’re either so naïve, or your messiah complex is so in need of servicing, that you actually think you can run the country. Not just run it, but improve it. On top of that, you think you can do a better job of running it and improving it than anyone else in the race.
Any one of these things is enough to make you a pariah at a cocktail party, but in this context you’re taken semi-seriously, particularly if you’re able to scare up money in support of your delusion or are willing to throw in plenty of your own.
So, you’re set to bequeath your sterling personality to a nation that you believe clearly needs you, when WHAP!⎯the Iowa caucuses smack you in the face. They’re the first big hurdle, and if you don’t make a respectable showing in Iowa, the American People, unfortunately, will move on, never knowing how close they came to choosing a great leader.
Now your biggest problem is no longer psychological, it’s strategic. Everybody knows Iowa has more than its fair share of wing nuts. Flat-earthers, anti-Darwinists, states-rights paranoids, marriage purists. It’s a toxic fact that they and their hogs are all concentrated into this one bucolic state, and it happens to come first in the hit parade.
You have to win here at all costs, so you do what any ambitious pol does: you pander. But this is the information age. Today’s pander may please the bumpkins who slog to the caucuses in midwinter, but that same pander in an Internet video six months from now, during the general election, could make you look like a Neanderthal elsewhere⎯that is, if there ever were Neanderthals, which most Iowa Republicans know is a myth right up there with the Tooth Fairy.
If you can finesse this one, maybe you deserve to be president.