We should be in a season of celebration. Three of the Republican candidates for president, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, are of the highest caliber, on a level we have barely seen in the post-war period. But interest is lukewarm. And the mainstream yearns for the family member of a former president, one not particularly distinguished; a monarchist yearning. Or Herman Cain. It has been like this for a while: Obama, Hillary, Mike Huckabee, W. Bush, Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreTrump's election fraud claims pose risks for GOP in midterms Don't 'misunderestimate' George W. Bush Why the pro-choice movement must go on the offensive MORE and others should be seen as history's passing fancy, yet in our time they rise to the top. This is a crisis of leadership and authority coming to its most critical moment. If we fail again this time, this time the country will fall apart.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank notes that in the recent debate in Nevada, Jon Huntsman, “governor, ambassador, the man who in a normal political environment would be the most qualified and formidable candidate in the race, wasn’t even on the stage.”

And he is right when he says: “A system that rejects a Jon Huntsman in favor of a Herman Cain isn’t a primary process. It is a primal scream.”

What went wrong? Everything. There is something wrong with everything: the government, the press, the people.

I’ve been following this descent since Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonVirginia governor's race enters new phase as early voting begins Business coalition aims to provide jobs to Afghan refugees Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader MORE’s Elvis caricature followed in his inauguration parade. It was all good fun, no? A president with the moral overview of the hunka-hunka burnin’ love himself. Maybe not. At the beginning of the Clinton presidency I felt we had turned the corner and entered the vestry of the place of no return. I wasn’t alone. It was then that alternative government, secession and regional thinking began. It began with the League of the South and, in New England, the New England Confederation. The idea cross-cultured and took steam in the Bush administration and took off in Obama’s moment. There are now dozens of states’-rights and sovereignty movements across the continent. And the so-called "Occupy" movement resembles the Pirandello play in which the actors are in search of an author.

They could very well find them in authors like Thomas Woods, or at Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Freedom Watch or at the 10th Amendment Center, a Petri dish for brilliant new constitutional thinking. And if the grown-ups don’t get it right this time, they may find no other options.