The more the merrier, so bless me God!
Our love can thrive in company great;
our honour more and never less.
—from “Pearl,” late 14th century
The Republican presidential nominee is likely to win the White House in 2016. Since 1952, with the only exception being “Reagan’s third term” in 1988, voters have ousted the incumbent party after eight years. Indeed, the candidate of the eight-year incumbent party always does considerably worse in his election than the incumbent running for reelection four years before. Obama won with only 51 percent of the vote in 2012. That’s a bad sign for the 2016 Democratic nominee, who, if history is a guide, is likely to end up with about 45 percent of the vote. So the 2016 GOP nominee has a good shot to be president.
But who, you might ask, should that be?
Good question. And we don’t have an answer. With Friedrich Hayek, we believe in the limits of central planning and foreknowledge. With Adam Smith, we believe in the merits of wide-open competition. With Joseph Schumpeter, we believe in the utility of some creative destruction. With Peter Thiel, we believe that it’s very hard to know ahead of time who can make the leap from zero to one.
So our holiday message to Republican primary voters is simple: Take your time before making your choice. Take a good look at all the candidates. Don’t rule individuals in or out because of your own or others’ preconceptions, or because pundits say this or donors say that or the media say God-knows-what. Give each of the candidates a chance to make his or her case, and don’t rush to make up your mind either about who has the best chance to win or who would do best at governing.
And our holiday message to possible Republican candidates is also simple: Seize the day. If you think you would be a good president of the United States, run. After all, if not now, when? The election of 2016 is not only winnable. It will be the most consequential since 1980. The country’s future is at stake. This is no time for anyone who thinks he or she has something to contribute to equivocate, to hold back, to calculate the odds for 2020 or 2024.
So, channeling Thomas Paine, we say to John Bolton, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Pete King, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Joe Scarborough, Scott Walker, and Allen West: “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Each of you would be a better president than Hillary Clinton. You would deserve the thanks of man and woman if you beat her. And if your name is not on this list, don’t feel slighted. Rather, feel free to volunteer. Dick Cheney, Tom Cotton, Mitch Daniels, Joni Ernst, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani—you’re also more ready than Hillary. If you think you’re the right person . . . go for it.
Some may say we’re taking “the more the merrier” to ridiculous lengths. Perhaps. But the winnowing process, once it begins in late 2015, will be merciless. The field will narrow soon enough. So while Democrats face the prospect of a forced march to a lackluster coronation, Republicans, at least for the next several months, can let a hundred flowers bloom. “Our love can thrive in company great; our honour more and never less.”