A guest post from Edgar Harris

With the Iowa caucuses behind us the Republican Primary is finally in full swing. Those of you in the Republican Party have to make a choice on who will challenge Barack Obama for the White House in November. Given how weak the Republican field is, the choice should be pretty clear.

Measuring a candidate is a difficult task, but as a voter you have a responsibility to make a judgement about which candidate will be best suited for the Presidency. There are several metrics you can use. The two metrics that seem to be getting the most attention are ideological alignment, and electability. This is especially true when discussing the candidacy of Mitt Romney.

Those in favor of Mitt Romney’s candidacy argue that he’s the only candidate that consistently polls well against Barack Obama. While those that oppose Mitt Romney argue that he lacks the Conservative credentials they are looking for. However these metrics have gotten way too much attention, because neither one can be counted as the most important metric. The most important metric is competency.

Allow me to explain. Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to interview a lot of potential candidates for various Software Engineering positions. There are a lot of different aspects I’m interested in, including software design philosophies, honesty, the ability to work with others, but above all else I’m looking for someone that can perform the function of the job. If I can determine early on that a candidate is not competent enough to perform the job we are interviewing for, I will cut the interview short, because none of the other traits an applicant might exhibit matter at that point.

A Presidential campaign can be equated to a huge job interview. Just like any other job, a Presidential Candidate needs to demonstrate that he/she is capable of performing the functions of the President. If a candidate lacks the competency to be President then no other metric matters. Unfortunately this leaves Republicans with only one choice, Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney is the only Republican candidate that has demonstrated that he is competent enough to fill the role of President. The first test of a candidate’s competency is his/her ability to run an effective campaign. With the exception of Ron Paul, the other candidates have completely failed in this regard. Not only have the other candidates failed to offer substantive plans for the country, they have failed in some of the most basic campaign activities; such as debates, or getting their names on the Virginia Primary ballot.

What about Ron Paul? I have to credit Ron Paul: he is very effective at getting his message out. He’s also an uncompromising ideologue with extremist views that are unpalatable to even members of his own party, hardly Presidential material. Sorry, but Mitt Romney is the only real choice.

Unfortunately the Republican Party has become so extreme over the past few years that I’m not convinced they’ll make the clear choice. The Republican Party has become a party that values adherence to orthodoxy over substance. Ross Douthat put it well when he said, “In this atmosphere, deviations from a narrow party line are punished more severely than blatant stupidity, and fresh ideas are dismissed or ignored because they don’t fit a neat ideological narrative.”

I’ve watched with amusement, sometimes horror, as the Republican Party has struggled to come to terms with their current predicament. Every month, in a desperate attempt to find a candidate not named Mitt Romney; there has been a new front runner in the Republican Primary. Every month that candidate’s extreme incompetence becomes so obvious that even Republican Primary voters have to admit it. Every month it becomes more and more clear that Mitt Romney is the only viable candidate in the Republican field.

It’s time for the Republican Party to come to terms with this simple fact; Mitt Romney is the only qualified candidate you have. The choice is clear.