I’m not excited about any of the GOP candidates for president

So I don’t like Donald Trump.

That much isn’t exactly a secret, as I’ve written about my grave concerns with him rather extensively. I find his brand of authoritarianism deeply troubling, and I cannot bring myself to support somebody who so openly shills for the disaster that is government funded, single-payer, universal health care.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, his deep hostility to free market capitalism (or at least the move toward it) and free trade, a system that is responsible for lifting 1 billion people out of extreme poverty in just 20 years, is icing on the cake.

In any event, I’m not really apologetic about opposing Trump so strenuously.

However, the fact that I find him so offensive to my fusionist libertarian sensibilities has given rise to the idea that I must secretly harbor some affection for the other candidates.

I don’t, and it is time to dispel the notion that I like any of these candidates much at all.

The GOP presidential candidates at Saturday's debate in Manchester, N.H. Carlo Allegri | Reuters

The GOP presidential candidates at Saturday’s debate in Manchester, N.H. Carlo Allegri | Reuters

There was a time — before any of them actually started running — when I considered this lineup of Republican candidates to be the most tremendous bench in modern American history.

Seen from a distance, it was full of candidates who had conservative credentials, some with government experience, some who were true outsiders. There were people who — such as Scott Walker and Chris Christie — had gone to war with unions and beaten them.

We had global business leaders in Trump and Carly Fiorina. We had an ascendent libertarian in Rand Paul. We had a true anti-establishment, hyperconservative in Ted Cruz.

In short, we had good options, and several people I could imagine being president. Even if I wasn’t in love with everything about them, they seemed a much better crop to choose from than 2012’s horrendous Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Cain lineup.

Boy was I wrong.

Every single one of these candidates has critical flaws that make me generally uninterested in supporting them.

Trump is a non-starter.

Jeb Bush is a weak, soft, squishy aristocrat. He is in love with the process of governing, not transformative solutions. He is the squishiest of moderate Republicans, and his support for state-centric, big government solutions like Common Core infects everything. Plus, he is the modern embodiment of “establishment.”

Marco Rubio is a very smart, talented communicator, but he has been using that to cover up some incredible weaknesses. His inexperience shows, and he attempts to make up for it by making a lot of noise, like a baby lion cub trying to roar.

Ergo his almost comically ill-advised, ultra-hawkish neoconservative foreign policy, which is now out of alignment with not only the American people, but his own party.

Then, of course, is the programmatic way he delivers his lines, which ultimately doomed him in the New Hampshire debate, as RubioBot 2016 appeared to short circuit. Plus his disastrous immigration bill. Memo to lawmakers: don’t join gangs.

My prediction that he’d emerge the nominee seems quite unlikely now.

John Kasich? As if the incessant resume dropping weren’t bad enough, his big government conservatism is. It is just the newest version of George W. Bush’s failed “compassionate conservatism,” of big government for “social good.” If that philosophy wasn’t bad enough, his Medicaid expansion should be.

Cruz? Well, the man is certainly hated by the establishment. But that by itself doesn’t mean the establishment is wrong in hating him.

I’ve noticed a very troubling pattern of pandering, and rank careerism in Cruz. I am always wary of people who are so ambitious that their goal seems to be the acquisition of a position first and accomplishing policy goals second.

He is certainly as conservative as he claims to be, but there is a reason he sounds like a used car salesman when he speaks. He wishes to appear to the base as saying and doing all the right things, even if he knows better, and has to fake it (which he frequently does). Ted appears to be in this for Ted.

Then there are candidates who were expected to do well, who did not, and ended up dropping out. People like Walker, Paul, Christie, were all fatally flawed too, in so many ways.

As you can see, there is a very good reason why I haven’t chosen a candidate.

And worse? The options on the Democratic side are so tragically awful that the alternative to a Republican will be either a geriatric socialist who doesn’t understand basic economics, or a tired, worn, robotic, criminal who is even more establishment than Jeb Bush, which shouldn’t be possible.

Pass the whisky, this is going to be a long year.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.