The GOP is Imploding

February 18, 2012

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

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Ron Paul is Nibbling at Romney’s Heels

January 14, 2012

To listen to Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s speech after placing a strong second in the New Hampshire Primary you would have thought that he had just won the contest.  Filled with his usual attacks on the Federal Reserve, Military/Industrial Complex, the bloated federal government, and an ever expanding police state, Dr. Paul’s speech was also an inspiring rallying cry for his ever growing base of fervent supporters.  In many ways he did win the New Hampshire Primary.  He tripled his vote total from four years ago.  He finished a strong, undisputed second behind a candidate with home field advantage and tons of Wall Street cash.  He also proved the naysayers wrong who have been preaching for months that he is unelectable.  Most importantly, the New Hampshire Primary results have made the race for the GOP nomination for president a two man contest between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Look at the facts so far in this race.  Ron Paul is the only other candidate besides Mitt Romney to do well with two totally different bodies of voters.  In Iowa, both men garnered support from evangelical and socially conservative voters while in New Hampshire more socially moderate and fiscally conservative voters.  For his part, Paul got the most support of disaffected Democrats and Independents of any of the other Republicans running.  This trend bodes well for him since as many as 13 states hold open primaries and caucuses where his support outside of his own party will be a distinct advantage for him in those states.  Overall, in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire Dr. Paul has collected 25,000 more votes than his nearest competitor Rick Santorum.

Besides broad support, financial backing also differentiates candidates from one another.  The Paul Campaign reported that it raised $13 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.  The only other Republican candidate to raise more was Mitt Romney.  The sum Paul has collected in donations has allowed him to not only purchase air time in South Carolina, but to jump ahead and spend money on direct mail in Louisiana, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, and North Dakota.  Additionally, a pro-Paul Super PAC Revolution PAC plans to spend millions more on the congressman’s quest for the presidency.  And recently the Santa Rita Super PAC which was just created on January 4 bought over $300,000 worth of ad time in South Carolina promoting Paul’s candidacy.

Then there are the recent poll results.  A CBS News poll released a day before the New Hampshire Primary found Romney and Paul to be the strongest Republican contenders against President Obama.  Romney leads the President 47 to 45 percent while Paul trails Obama by 45 to 46 percent.  But even more important to the moment, an American Research Group poll conducted over the last two days indicates that Congressman Paul is getting a massive bump from his strong showing in New Hampshire.  The good folks of the Palmetto State are now paying attention to the race because their turn to vote is coming up quickly.  In less than one week Paul’s support in SC has risen from 9 to 20 percent placing him third in that race.

To be sure, the campaign for the presidency is a long drawn out affair.  Staying power is essential.  After South Carolina, lower tier Republican candidates will begin to drop out or become irrelevant.  Two things will happen.  Their supporters’ votes and money will need a new candidate and all media attention will focus on Romney and Paul.  Given Paul’s appeal to a broad base of voters and conservatives’ mistrust of Mitt Romney, I like the Texas Congressman’s chances.  In fact, it is highly probable that he will deliver

many more inspiring, rallying cries for his ever growing base of fervent supporters.

Article first published as Ron Paul is Nibbling at Romney’s Heels on Blogcritics.


Revisionism is Alive and Well

September 9, 2011

“There is no credibility left for the Republican Party as a force to reduce the size of government.  That is the message of the Reagan years.”

Ron Paul 1987

Politicians have a tendency to change history to suit their purposes.  The revising of history by Soviet dictators was legendary.  Our own leaders have been on occasion guilty of distorting, reconfiguring, or downright lying about past events.  Most notable are the claims that Abraham Lincoln launched the Civil War to end slavery and that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal ended the Great Depression.

One of the greatest revisionist histories perpetuated in the latter part of the 20th Century by both Republicans and Democrats alike is that Ronald Reagan was a conservative, limited government president.  Republicans praise him for his “record” of getting the government off our backs and dramatically reducing the size of the federal leviathan.  Democrats vilify him for weakening programs that helped the underclass and reducing the scope of government needed to ensure economic prosperity.  Both Republicans and Democrats couldn’t be farther from the truth in their thinking.

In the first place, government got exponentially larger during Reagan’s eight years as president.  For instance, during the 1980 race for the White House, Reagan made a cornerstone of his campaign the elimination of federal agencies and departments.  In particular he proposed abolishing the Departments of Education and Energy.  Instead of eliminating those wasteful departments, by the end of his term Reagan had doubled their budgets and created another department – the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  In 8 years as president, the former B Actor hired 230,000 more bureaucrats.  How is that the work of a small government president?

Reagan is also portrayed as a tax reducer by both sides.  Up to that point in our history, he was one of the biggest tax increasers of all time.  He increased taxes and fees on everything from gasoline to trucking to Social Security.  The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 was the largest tax increase in American history to that point.  It rolled back many business tax cuts enacted during his first year in office.  The remarkable thing is that given his reputation for being a dedicated tax cutter by the time he left office in January 1989 tax revenues were still 24.7 percent of national income – only slightly down from 25.1 percent when he took office in 1981.  The facts bare proof that Reagan was no tax cutter.

“Thanks to the President (Reagan) and Republican Party, we have lost the chance to reduce the deficit and the spending in a non-crisis fashion.”

Ron Paul 1987

Lastly, analysis of Reagan’s conservative credentials would be grossly incomplete without a review of federal spending during his administration.  One could conclude by looking at Reagan’s spending alone that he was not a free market dyed in the wool capitalist but a big state liberal.  In eight years as president the Gipper never proposed a budget smaller than the year’s before.  Federal farm program spending went from $21.4 billion in 1981 to $51.4 billion in 1987, a 140 percent increase.  Entitlements, which cost $197.1 billion in 1981, cost $477 billion in 1987, another 140 percent increase.  Even foreign aid, long a target of conservatives’ wrath, was doubled under Reagan.  As everyone knows by now, the welfare state was not inaccessible to the military industrial complex either.  Reagan increased military spending enormously during his presidency.  At the end of his spending binge he managed to triple the federal debt to $2.7 trillion by 1989 and paved the way for future administrations to spend like drunken sailors.

While most conservatives celebrate Reagan for his “small government” credentials and most liberals slander him for dismantling the federal government, remember that actions speak louder than words.  Reagan spoke a good game about eliminating government but rarely produced those results.  After 8 years of his presidency, the federal government was much larger and more intrusive in our lives.  Thus revisionist history is alive and well at least when it comes to the Great Communicator’s presidency.  So the next time you hear Perry Romney, or some of the other unprincipled Republican candidate for president praise the Gipper and claim they are his heir apparent, remember Reagan’s real record and consider if we can afford another president like him.

Article first published as Revisionism is Alive and Well on Blogcritics.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina