With the most recent entry of former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie into the presidential race, I count now 12 Republican candidates in the field.
Former President Donald Trump retains a strong lead in the polls, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a strong second.
But it is still very early in the game, and even the most casual observer of politics knows that the situation is fluid and what will be remains to be seen.
What is clear is that in the big picture of things, Americans are not at all happy with the situation in their country.
In most recent Gallup polling, only 18% say they are satisfied with the direction of the country.
This is not new.
Over the last 15 years, there was only one month in which more than 40% expressed satisfaction with how things are going.
Looking at the breakdown by party ID, Gallup shows, as of April, only 4% of Republicans satisfied with the country’s direction, 16% of independents and 29% of Democrats.
This tells me there is a big opportunity for change to a Republican presidency.
But the question remains: Who and what it will take?
More importantly, will the presidential campaign be another exercise in bumper cars, where the one who makes noise the best wins? Or will we hear and choose a vision for the nation and its future?
Recently in a Wall Street Journal column, former Wisconsin Gov. and presidential candidate Scott Walker offered good advice.
Walker was an enormously successful governor and conservative reformer in Wisconsin.
This made him a star, and he entered the 2016 presidential race. But he failed.
He attributes his failure to running on his record rather than laying out a vison of “big, bold ideas” for the country.
Rather than listening to consultants and running on his record, Walker says he wishes he laid out an aggressive program like “a national flat tax, sending the responsibility for education back to the states and schools, work requirements for public assistance, and term limits for public service.”
I think it’s good advice. But I would take it one step further.
We need to restore discussion about what the country is about.
Regarding issues, I know what I would like to hear. I have been writing about it for years.
On the economic front, we must get our fiscal house in order. Republicans had success in the recent debt ceiling debate. But relatively speaking, it was a tiny victory. The country is still staggering under massive government and debt, which is retarding productivity and growth.
A major part of the government burden is tied to our bankrupt Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs that no candidate has shown the courage to take on.
On the social front, the country is dangerously aging because of the collapse of family and children and, for years, a free abortion regime.
I want to see candidates take these things on.
But more, we need candidates to talk about what our country is about. Who are we?
Are we a free nation under God? If yes, what does this mean? What principles does this translate into regarding how we live and how we understand our government, our Constitution and how we are governed? And what policies follow from these principles?
If we are not a free nation under God, what does that mean, and where does it take us?
I return to the words in our Constitution’s preamble that say it is about securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
What does this mean?
It is very nice talking about wokeness and the border and debt. But it has been too long since the American people were drawn into a discussion about the nation’s principles and ideals and what these mean for our lives and future.
Star Parker is President of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the weekly television show “CURE America with Star Parker.”