The 2012 Republican presidential race has been, so far, one of the most intriguing contests in recent memory. It has consisted of multiple frontrunners, a sex scandal, one state and potentially a second state changing who it declared the winner of its caucus weeks after voting, the resignation of two state party chairman, and a candidate who is less interested in winning elections than he is in accumulating delegates to win the nomination. Put together, this has not been your typical Republican primary where a frontrunner is declared early and is swept through the primaries with little challenge all the way to their coronation moment at the party’s convention. Instead, this year we are witnessing the implosion of the Republican Party.
By implosion I am not saying the Republican Party is going to disintegrate into nothing. What I am saying is that by the time the party crowns its nominee this summer it may look a lot different than it does today.
As most Ron Paul supporters know, the Good Doctor kept much of his campaign apparatus in place from 2008. This included his allies in the various states being elected or appointed to party positions. This seems to have paid off since his former state campaign co-chair A.J. Spiker was just elected as the new chairman of the Iowa Republican Party in the aftermath of the previous chair’s demise for voting irregularities in this year’s Iowa Caucuses. Additionally, Nevada’s Republican state chair also resigned due to allegations of irregularities during that state’s caucus. It’s been reported that several Ron Paul backers are poised to step up to fill the void.
Then there is the turmoil surrounding Maine state chair, Charlie Webster. He is being censured by that state’s Republican Party and forced to recount votes from the caucuses statewide as well as include Washington County’s in the final vote tally. The new result could force the Maine GOP to change its declared winner of the caucus from Mitt Romney to Ron Paul. In all three instances, Ron Paul loyalists called out the Establishment and will potentially overthrow the old regime by supporters of sound money, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and support for civil liberties.
But, perhaps the biggest reason why the GOP is imploding is because it’s chosen one has faltered. 2012 was supposed to be Mitt Romney’s turn and he was expected to cruise to the nomination. The rules were even fixed in his favor. With strong support in the Florida, Nevada, and Arizona contests, they were moved up in the calendar to benefit Romney. Realizing he would win very few contests in the Bible Belt those contests were changed from winner take all to proportional allocation.
Yet Romney has struggled losing 6 of 9 contests and 4 in a row (yes, I am counting Maine because with potential widespread corruption he still could only out poll Ron Paul by 194 votes). Current polls in his boyhood state of Michigan have him trailing Rich Santorum. And let’s face it, there are still many southern primaries to come and your typical Evangelical voter is not going to vote for a Mormon. Things are looking grim for the Romney campaign.
As all 4 Republican candidates have vowed to stay in the race all the way to the convention, it is looking more and more like a brokered convention in Tampa. If none of the candidates has enough delegates to win the nomination, intense horse trading would ensue. However, I can’t see any of the current combatants for the nomination cutting a deal and dropping out. They all represent vastly different wings of the party and after spending so much time, energy, and money to win the thing through a grueling primary season it seems unlikely that enough could be given to make that happen.
At that point, other party candidates would be offered as a compromise. Delegate totals for each candidate would be diluted with the exception of Congressman Paul. Because of his strategy of winning delegates by out hustling his opponents and because his supporters would never switch allegiance he could become a kingmaker. He may not get the nomination himself, but the party would be changed. His delegates could influence the eventual nominee, change the platform, and return to their states and become the party’s leaders.
The consequences of such a scenario would lead to a future run by a Ron Paul heir. As the Barry Goldwater campaign paved the way for the Conservative “Revolution” of 1980, what could transpire this year could pave the way for a Libertarian Revolution in the future.
Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina