I’ve been watching the Republicans as they lurch their way towards selecting a nominee to run against Obama. Neither party has what could termed a clear process for selecting the person to hold down their top spot, but this year’s Republican race seems bent on setting a record for confusion.
The most glaring example was, of course, the Cain candidacy. With it’s silly “9-9-9” tax plan and the huckster-like way the campaign was run, it made you wonder why anyone took Cain seriously. The fact that he was on top of the field for some time appalled me to no end, but in the end, he rather publicly ‘crashed-and-burned’.
Michelle Bachmann was another candidate that, when you paid even a little attention to her and what she stood for (or claimed to stand for), you had to wonder who would support her. Again, people did and she too was at or near the top of the field. Iowa seems to have put paid to her brand of silliness, and for that, America owes Iowa a debt of gratitude.
And now, as the saying goes, for the rest of the story.
What’s left ‘in the running’ is a field that has to have anyone with any reasoning ability scratching their heads. Perry is still in, even though he finished well down the standings. That he, a man who has a record in government that is far from stellar, is even in the race should have people wondering. Gingrich has been complaining about attacks on his record, but his record IS crap, so why should he be allowed to ignore it? Santorum is a candidate who holds himself up as some sort of paragon of virtue, yet he too has a legislative record more spotted than spotless. Huntsman seem to be an honest, if uninspired, candidate who can’t get his own party to pay attention to him.
Then you get to the last two.
Romney has a record, and he seems to be very happy to run away from it just as Gingrich is trying to. His business record shows him to be a person willing to do whatever it takes to make a profit, with no concern what his actions do to the people in those companies he “turned around”. In politics, he has been a moderate……right up to the point where he started his presidential run. Now, he’s running as a conservative, painting himself with the same brush the rest of his party seems to favor. So far, many in his own party seem to be of the opinion that they need someone, anyone, to vote for instead of Romney. His change in political philosophy and, more important, his religion, have set large portions of the Republican base against him, making it hard to see him winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of his own party, let alone the broader electorate.
Last, but far from least, there’s Paul. He made a strong showing in Iowa, coming in close behind Santorum and Romney, which should worry anyone who cares about America. Paul is the standard bearer of the far Right of his own party, espousing things like a return to the gold standard and the abolishment of multiple “wasteful” government agencies. In his world, the government is the enemy, no matter how illogical it might be for someone to run to be the head of what they claim to hate. His foreign policy might best be described as ‘pull up the draw bridges and man the walls’. He draws large crowds, crowds that are eager to express their opinions….and who seem to almost worship their candidate. Many have compared the Paul campaign to a cult, and from everything this writer has seen, the comparison seems too close to the mark.
So, what does it all mean? If I had to make one observation, it would be that the Republicans have a serious, central problem: they bill themselves as “American’s party”, yet their core constituency is far more conservative than the bulk of Americans. This leads them to make a mad dash to the Right in the primaries……followed by an equally mad dash back towards the center in an effort to win the national election. Some have carried it off with panache. Others have ignored the need to appeal to the center and failed. Many have tried to make the run, only to run into their own positions on the way back, and fail. Until the center can be embraced, by either party, the candidates will be doing this same stupid dance, and the losers will be the American people. Because no politician who is willing to shift where they stand for the sake of votes can truly be trusted, and no politician who puts their ideology ahead of the good of the nation should be allowed to hold office.