Maybe We Need a Wrangler as President
After the recent vice presidential debate, I found myself returning to a thought I have had before. Maybe we need a real wrangler to serve as president for a while.
Let me explain.
In the vice presidential debate we observed a dignified candidate, speaking in measured terms, going to the root of many issues, all the while graciously and magnanimously showing grace to his opponent. He smiled in a gentlemanly way and even admitted he agreed in some areas.
It reminded me of some presidential debates: JFK (who was firm but gentlemanly) as he debated Nixon; Ronald Reagan, always the statesman, as he debated Carter and later Mondale; even Jimmy Carter, as he debated Gerald Ford. This is what many of us grew up with and, frankly, expected of presidential-level candidates.
But this election season has degraded such expectations.
The Left Fights Dirty
However, during the vice presidential debate we got a glimpse of that high standard again — in Mike Pence. It was a huge breath of fresh air. At least for a brief, shining moment. Then Pence was attacked by the political equivalent of a wild monkey, boxing his ears, not letting him answer, putting words in his mouth and then not letting him speak for himself, over-talking the moderator as well as his opponent, and repeating rehearsed hit-lines.
So let this sink in: just when we thought we might have a principled, statesmanlike debate this election season, one we have been begging for, this debate got hijacked by a shifty, eye-gouging opponent, the Democrat Tim Kaine. The audience in America went away confused and with a headache.
As I watched I thought: “This looks like the rodeo channel.”
That being said, maybe what we need is a tough wrangler because the election and the months following it are going to get even muddier and messier. It is going to be rough, no matter who wins. Perhaps there is no alternative.
Why a Wrangler?
“Why a wrangler?” you ask. Well, they are tough. And can get mean.
Officially, the term refers to one who can handle and manage animals — i.e. rope brutes. Think rodeos with bull wrestling, calf roping, stuff like that.
The English word wrangler originally came from an old German word for a “disputer” or a wrestler (verbal or otherwise). We use it pretty much the same way, except we add in the imagery of the rugged American West. Cowboys. Think of someone not only tough, but chewing tobacco and spitting it in every direction, angling for the horns of the bull with a vengeance.
Even vehicles named “Wrangler” conjure up images of dented fenders, knobby tires and mud all over the hood. Add strips of ripped cedar bark in the door handle and you have it.
The political wrangler we need is one who could out-jink the attack from the other side and get a rope around it, dragging it to the ground in a cloud of dust. And then walk away, bruised and dirty, waving the hat. Reagan was good at that. Teddy Roosevelt would have done pretty much the same thing (shouting “Bully!” and carrying a big stick).
We don’t have a Reagan or a Teddy Roosevelt now, but with what we are up against — especially the shady tactics used by the modern American Left — we may need something as close to that as we can get. Even though Trump deserves his own share of blame for the ugliness of this election season, maybe he has more of the toughness needed than the other Republicans who originally entered the race. That includes Mike Pence, as much as I admire him.
Perhaps that is what it is going to take.
Checks and Balances
Does that mean we want a rodeo tough for a president? Well, not for long. The founders of this country greatly feared power figures. They placed high importance on keeping a powerful president in check and making sure the people and their representatives in Congress hold on to the real power. So they designed the US Constitution to do just that.
But even more they feared an entrenched, elitist “aristocracy,” or a monarchy with familial claims to power. (One which had expectations of “coronations.”) They detested the thought of a person, a party or an agenda that could lead the nation into a dependence on centralized power and stifle individual conscience and pervert individual liberties. To escape that they fought a revolution.
If a wrangler is what it will take to stop the second, far worse possibility, maybe it is time for one, even if he is from New York. With the appropriate checks and balances, of course. At least until we can bring the country back into a saner arena.