Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Road to the White House, 2012

Yesterday Rick Santorum stunned Mitt Romney in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri by winning all three contests. Romney was expected to win Colorado, being next door to Mormon-dominated Utah, and was also expected to win Minnesota, the popular former governor of which, Tim Pawlenty, had endorsed Romney following the suspension of his own presidential campaign. Missouri was a so-called ‘beauty contest’, as they will have a formal caucus later in March to actually allocate their delegates. My candidate, Newt Gingrich, didn’t contest these three states heavily, instead deciding to husband his resources for the upcoming ‘Super Tuesday’. The wisdom of this strategy can be debated, but the outcome itself is what is interesting.

Once again, or I should really say thrice again, Conservative Republicans have indicated that they are not happy with Mitt Romney being crammed down their throat as the heir presumptive to the Republican nomination. We likewise weren’t thrilled with John McCain in 2008, either, at least until Sarah Palin was added to the ticket and began to ignite the true conservative Republican base. Unfortunately, Sarah Palin came so late in the race, and the McCain campaign squandered the opportunity her popularity provided so badly that not enough of the Republican faithful and the critical conservative independents contributed to victory over a freshman Senator from Illinois with no experience outside the campaign trail.

The Republican ‘Elite’ or the ‘Establishment’ or whatever you wish to call them didn’t learn from the experience, and instead lined up behind a northeastern liberal whose statewide healthcare plan was the blueprint for ObamaCare (aka, ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’, which neither protects patients nor makes healthcare affordable). Mitt Romney arguably has some favorable points on his side. He left his investment company to help save the Winter Olympics from being a fiasco, and his record as the Republican governor of a heavily Democratic state was commendable overall. However, as many Republican governors of California have found out over the last several decades, you have to make a lot of compromises to have even infinitesmally small victories. Couple that with the general distrust or dislike of Mormonism by other Christians, which make up a large part of the Conservative Republican base. The secretive nature of Mormon rituals as you progress up the ladder in the church heirarchy reminds many of Scientology-like cults. The fact that their religion is based upon gold tablets allegedly found and translated by the founder of their church in the 1800’s (but that have never been revelead to or seen by outsiders) leads many Christians to dismiss them simplay as an apostate group that is not really a Christian church at all. The fact that Massachusetts, the state of which Mitt Romney was governor, was the first state where same-sex marriage was made available, also makes Christians uneasy. The argument is that if you break down the traditional definition that marriage is between a man and a woman, and allow women to marry women and men to marry men, that the next logical step would be to allow plural marriages, which takes us right back to the Mormon issue. Admittedly, one starts seeing tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists at this point, but it’s not wholly improbable. Many of these arguments about Mormonism are in the same vein that arguments against electing Catholics were before (and during) the 1960 election when John F. Kennedy was elected. One has to judge them based on his or her own faith, or lack thereof.

So with Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, we see that if you combine the Gingrich and Santorum vote, you see conservatives voting overwhelmingly against the idea of Mitt Romney being the Conservative Standard Bearer, as they have in every contest to date, excepting Florida and Nevada. In Florida, Romney achieved 48% of the vote, not even a clear majority, and barely got 50.1% of the vote in Nevada, where he was heavily favored (and incidentally has a large Mormon population). Senator Santorum deserves much credit for putting the time into these contests. He has some good ideas that appeal to conservative voters, and he has actual experience in Congress, as opposed to Barack Obama. Still, for me, Risk Santorum doesn’t bring the really big ideas, the strategic view to the table, that I believe Newt Gingrich does. Newt engineered the first Republican leadership of the House of Representatives in 40 years with big ideas, including ‘The Contract With America’. Many of those ideas were left unfulfilled with Republican infighting and the eventual loss of the House back to the Democrats. There are big problems with the way government has been encroaching into our lives. Conservative Republicans have some ideas to correct the ills big government has wrought. There are ways to proide healthcare to more Americans without forcing ObamaCare or RomneyCare down everyone’s throat. There are ways to provide better education for our children without the federal government dictating to local school districts how they can spend their time teaching or how to spend money. There are ways to promote economic growth and prosperity without trying to steal money from people who have worked throughout their lives realizing their dreams and giving it to people who are too lazy to work at all. There are ways to encourage businesses to innovate and grow without imposing onerous regulation or bailing them out when they fail. There are ways to inspire Americans to reach beyond their grasp without mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren.

Many see the negative campaigining in the Republican field as a bad thing, and that we should be lining up behind Romney to focus our attention on making sure Barack Obama is a one-term president. That’s all well and good, but the purpose of the primary season is to vett our candidates and ultimately decide who actually will be our standard-bearer. The idea that anybody should breeze through as the ‘annointed one’ is not only ludicrous, but dangerous to democracy (or rather, a representative Republic, as the U.S. is). That’s not to say that Republicans should be running ads that are complete fabrications or distortions of the truth. Stick to the issues where you differ from your competitors and thos eof the other side. Carpet-bombing hurts the party as a whole, not just your opponent in the primary. Primary season makes the candidate stronger. It gets their ideas out into the public and ultimately helps the voters decide who most closely adheres to their philosophy. Ultimately, at least in primary season, that’s what voters are looking for, not which candidate is the most electable. Come time for the convention when we formally choose our candidate, we back whomever the best man or woman turned out to be. At least we should. After all, we identify ourselves as Republicans for a reason, because the party ideals most closely correspond with our own beliefs. It’s a big tent, and we want to be inclusive without compromising those core beliefs. Those include smaller government, lower spending, a balanced budget, lower (and fair) taxes, and overall less government intrusion into our daily lives.

The liberals have consistently attacked religion and fomented racism with their policies and yet they have people believing they are ‘protecting’ rights as they buy their votes with one government assistance program after another. Republicans have been the champions of the Civil Rights movement since Abraham Lincoln, but the Democrats have bamboozled minorities into believing that they desegragated the military (proposed by Truman but actually carried out first by Barry Goldwater in the Arizona National Guard); desgragated schools (opposed by Democrats but implemented by Eisenhower); eliminated poll taxes and literacy requirements (which were put in place by Democrats); denounced the Ku Klux Klan (organized by Democrats to terrorize Republican ‘carpetbaggers’); and created Affirmative Action (President Nixon). What have the Democrats done that they can actually take credit for, besides a bunch of programs that attempt to redistribute wealth, creating dependency on the government, instead of enabling people to get a better education, a better job and a better life?

Catholics have predominently supported the Democratic Party for decades and I can’t for the life of me understand why. Catholic Hospitals are being told they have to provide abortions and the morning-after pill. Catholic instituions like the University of Notre Dame are being told they have to provide contraception in their health plan. This is the single hot-button issue for Catholics. The sanctity of life is a basic tenet of our faith. We may have differing views on whether birth-control is beneficial, but the point is that the government is attempting to dictate to a religious organization how their faith should be expressed, where freedom of religion, freedom of religious expression, and freedom from government interference in religion is one of the foundational tenets of the United States of America. The liberals’ window of opportunity may be closing, and they know it.

The two candidates that most effectively espouse core conservative beliefs, in my opinion, are Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Both candidates are also Catholic, although one was raised in the faith and the other adopted it, like I did. They are both competing for the same audience in the Republican primary season. An audience that is larger than the ‘Republican Establishment’ believes it to be, that one only has to look at the results to date to clearly see. Ultimately, either Newt or Rick will have to drop out of the race, whether for lack of funds, momentum or what have you. It would be a travesty to abandon the race solely to ‘unify the party’, which is not needed at this time. Calls for one candidate or another to leave the race before even 10% of the delegates have been awarded are self-serving for the ‘establishment’ candidate. We will not be bamboozled. ideally, either Newt or Rick will have enough momentum coming out of the upcoming ‘Super Tuesday’ on March 6th to be declared the true conservative standard-bearer. Most important is that Republicans don’t give up or give in simply because ‘it’s inevitable’ that Romney will be our candidate in the fall, as that is not clearly in evidence today. We still have choices, we still have debates, and we still have 44+ primaries and caucuses to conduct.

Ideally, I’d like to see a Newt Gingrich/Rick Santorum ticket. I think Newt Gingrich, with the strategic vision and experience in conducting business in the House of Representatives, and Rick Santorum, with great ideas and experience in getting business done in the Senate, along with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, is exactly what America needs to stop the decline of our nation. We need to not only get the budget balanced, and begin to eliminate the national debt and our trade deficits, we need to reduce the burden on businesses and taxpayers, encourage innovation, we need to figure out how to lift the poor and poorly educated, not simply keep them where they’re at and placate them with free cheese. We also need to right our moral compass. It’s not the responsibility of government to try and correct society’s ills. It’s simply not good at it, never has been. Government has tried to take the place of religion and parenting and has failed miserably, creating a dependent class that can’t speak fluent English, can’t graduate from high school let alone college, can’t get a job, and have nothing to do but Occupy Wall Street to demonstrate their frustration to people who have been able to excel not because of government, but despite it.

We have nine months until the Presidential election. We will also be selecting congressional members as well as a third of the Senate. Voting is the single most important responsibility we have as citizens, as ultimately, we ARE the government. As Republicans, we need to decide what issues are most important to us, and vote for and elect candidates who represent our views. However, if our candidates don’t win, that doesn’t mean we give up and stay home. Our votes count, even if we don’t win outright. Our votes are represented at the national convention, in the official party platform, and in the minds of the candidates who do win, because they will know where they need to go for support. It’s important that we support the candidates of our party, even if they weren’t our first or even second choice. It’s important that we elect a Republican president. It’s even more important that we elect conservative Republican senators, congressmen and state legislators. The only way to stop the red ink coming out of Washington is to completely reverse the course President Obama, Senator Harry Reid and former Speaker of the House Nacy Pelosi set our nation on.

It’s a national and moral imperative that we do so.

I’ve just made it into work after casting my ballot this morning at the First Baptist Church, around the corner from my house. Upon arrival there were approximately 100 people waiting in line ahead of me. This is a far larger number than I have previously seen here, but this is my first presidential election at this precinct, having only voted here in the previous off-cycle and local elections since moving to Maricopa. Volunteers were passing out coffee and donuts to those waiting. Everyone seemed to have a very positive outlook and the feeling that this was indeed an important election. This was also my daughter’s first election, having turned eighteen earlier this year, and I was very proud to have her standing beside me.
I’m generally conservative in my views, and typically vote Republican. This year was no exception. My preferred candidate, Fred Thompson, unfortunately didn’t make the cut. I can’t say that John McCain is the best candidate we could have fielded, but he is the one we ended up with. The addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket, which some have lambasted, I believe was a superior choice which ultimately strengthened my support for the ticket. I could definitely see myself supporting her for 2012.
John McCain is a war hero, and he has made some initiative to eliminating corruption and waste in government. I don’t believe he is strictly conservative, as he hasn’t supported measures that would clamp down on the illegal immigration problem, which has been particularly acute here in his home state of Arizona. That has cost him some support among the ‘Goldwater’ and ‘Reagan’ conservatives.
Sarah Palin, although much maligned, is the only governor of a state bordering a potentially hostile nation, the only governor who as commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard controls an active duty missile defense battalion, the only governor who is routinely briefed on national security issues, and one who is intimately familiar with the issues surrounding energy production and delivery. I think she is very qualified to be President, let alone Vice-President. Time will tell if she has staying power on the national stage.
While I don’t believe that George W. Bush has been the worst president we’ve ever elected, as a conservative I have been greatly disappointed that he has not shown more leadership and allowed Congress to spend with wild abandon over the past eight years. Much, but not by any means all, of the mounting deficits can be attributed to the Iraq and Afghanistan actions and poor oversight. Unfortunately at the same time we have experienced a huge increase in domestic spending that as a fiscal conservative I believe the federal government has absolutely no business being involved with in the first place. The pork barrel earmarks need to be extinguished and the scope of the federal governments’ involvement in local affairs needs to be greatly reduced. I predict with an Obama presidency the exact opposite will happen. If McCain were to be elected, I believe he would at least make an attempt at being a ‘maverick’.
The most critical elections, however, do not involve McCain or Obama, as in reality, whomever is president can really only suggest policy, and a direction for the nation. It is up to the members of Congress to actually enact the legislation to make it happen. On this election eve, we are faced with the possibility of an incoming Congress with a huge Democratic majority, possibly one that will have the power to stifle any opposition from across the aisle. The most important elections occurring today are for those 435 House seats and 35 Senate seats that are up for contention. The Republicans are expected to lose heavily, even in some stalwart Republican districts. I have to say that while I am dismayed at the prospect, I can hardly blame the electorate. Even lifelong Republicans such as myself are embarrassed that the opportunity our party had to show fiscal restraint while encouraging economic growth was utterly wasted. Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave, God rest his soul.
While I stop short of actually voting for the other party, I do believe it is well past time to enact a constitutional amendment providing for term limits for members of Congress. I have even gone so far as to produce a draft of such an amendment and have forwarded that on to my state delegation. It is time not only for new blood and new ideas, but of an end to a legislative career. It is only fair after all, since Congress enacted an artificial term limit for president (the 22nd amendment to our Constitution), that there be an equal limitation for our legislators. Our founding fathers never intended for public service to be a lifelong career. This year, somewhere close to a billion dollars will be spent on the presidential campaign alone, for a job that pays around $400,000 (plus excellent benefits). Senatorial campaigns will cost in the tens of millions, in order to receive an annual paycheck of less than $200,000. It is clear the draw of power in itself is too great a temptation, and the dynamic needs to be changed. I think it will be ultimately better for the nation.
So this evening, after I rush home from work to sit in front of TiVo and eagerly await the returns from across the US, I will not only be watching the train wreck of John McCain’s (probably final) candidacy, I will also be scrutinizing the House and Senate results from Alaska to Maine, with of course a special focus on the congressional delegation (House only, as John McCain and our other Senator, John Kyl are not standing for re-election in this cycle) from The Great State of Arizona, (God’s own country, Goldwater country, and my new home since 2006), and as much interest as I can muster for the handful of state and local ballot initiatives and bond issues. I will hope for the best, and right now the best looks like just this side of a disaster for my party, and perhaps for my country.
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