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Iowa, A Close Race, and the Three Legged Stool

Tuesday night was an interesting night, in many ways. First, since I was away on business in Ohio, I watched the Iowa caucuses from my jacuzzi while sipping on a Sam Adams Winter Lager…no, this was not a political trip, but rather one for my day job; it just appears that I’m that politically connected. Quite honestly, if it gets to the point where the party is putting me up in hotel room just to watch the Iowa caucuses while soaking in a jacuzzi sipping on beer, somebody slap me so that I can reground myself.

Second, the race between Romney and Santorum was jaw dropping. I don’t want to go too deep with the race in general, because I think EVERYONE is tired of hearing pundits go on and on and on about the reasons that Santorum came so close to Romney (though it should be noted that I made almost all of the same predictions that Karl Rove did). It can be summed up pretty quickly, actually. After evaluating all of the candidates (rather, conservative candidates, since the libertarian leaning one and moderate leaning one have already solidified their particular base), the conservative voters in Iowa picked the one that hadn’t already flown into the sun. One by one they have been picked off. Bachmann with her remarks about the Perry’s vaccinations started her downfall and it has continued to the point where she dropped out the day after Iowa. Perry’s poor debating eroded his base quickly (though I’m still rooting for him, and think if he can do a 180 he COULD capture South Carolina). Gingrich’s past and his inability (or rather lack of want) to attack Romney with negative adds allowed him to be led around by the nose. Sure, he’s running some now, but it’s too little too late; now the ads appear spiteful (which, really, they are) and will hurt more than they help. All that was left was Santorum, and that ball of fire probably won’t last long. I watched his interview with Bill O’Reilly the night after his win and it was rough, to be kind. I think I’d like him as a Governor or VP or cabinet member, and I think he’s got some good ideas, but I think he’s ill prepared and lacks the finances to finish it off.

All right, now that that’s out of the way, what kept rolling around in my head were the numbers. Romney and Santorum all but tied with 26 some odd percent, and Paul finished in third with 22 percent. Now, this doesn’t mean NEARLY what so many Paul supporters have been saying and posting. Yes, it is an impressive showing and he should be congratulated, and I don’t want to belittle the work that he and his supporters put in (some of his policies and ideas, sure). The fact is, with those three numbers, 26, 26 (plus the other conservative candidates numbers, making the Santorum/conservatives total come to about fifty percent, with Huntsmans one percent going, in my opinion, in with the Romney grouping), and 22, the GOP is represented the same way it always has; as a three legged stool. One post in particular by a buddy of mine who is a Paul supporter inspired me to really point this out, though it had been floating around inside that skull of mine since Tuesday night.

Hopefully what it shows is what I have always said about Paul. Though some of his ideas are far more libertarian than I am (or the GOP in general), he’s been a needed aspect to the party to help pull certain aspects, like cutting spending and being fiscally responsible, of the party back over. The 22 percent, and third place finish, show that this has happened. BUT, and this is a big but (note the decision to caps lock the word) the worry is that one of two things will happen, since, while Paul has helped the party as a whole, he has also built a cult of personality around himself where many of his followers would jump off a bridge if he asked them to. First, that he will lose and tell his followers to vote for the libertarian candidate. Many wouldn’t, but enough will to make a difference (after all, many Paul supporters voted for Bob Barr last time around). The second is even worse: that he will lose and run as a big L, rather than a little l. In this instance, most if not all would follow. This is a VERY real possibility, and may be the reason that he decided against running for his House seat again. I know I’ve outlined these concerns before, but it bears repeating, that he could, and just might, single handedly make Obama a two term President. Certainly the GOP field has had it’s troubles, to say the least, and Obama may become a two term President anyways. But that’s another piece for another day.

For now, it is important to note once again that the Republican party is a big tent that is primarily conservative, but still filled with many ideas that are all equally important to the brand. The quicker that we can coalesce, the better chance we’ll have in November.

-Travis Gearhart

4 Comments

  • Jan 8th 201207:01
    by Kevin Tracy

    I’ve been having a very interesting conversation with one of my readers via e-mail about this. Ron Paul’s support is based hugely on reactionary populism politics; which we should all be able to recognize as anti-conservative. Anyway, the question I was asked, and unfortunately couldn’t answer, was how to discredit Ron Paul’s foolish and dangerous policies without discrediting the libertarian leg of that stool; which is an important part of the Republican platform and seems to be the first to be neglected by the party.

  • Jan 8th 201209:01
    by Travis

    The best thing that I have learned to do is to lay out plainly and simply the stark differences between the full fledged libertarians and the conservatives who are “liberty minded”. For example (and I think I’ve talked to you about this one before) Ron Paul and his “Audit the Fed” bill is very popular in most Republican circles. However, seeing as the Fed hasn’t even been audited before he writes his book “End the Fed” discredits his point, because it is riding on the populism of the “Audit the Fed” movement without actually going through and DOING it. I’ve proposed in the past a system to make the Fed board more accountable, and to take away powers from them that they shouldn’t have, but to some l’s that isn’t good enough. That is because a lot of libertarian are reactionaries by nature. They want something done now, damn the consequences. That is not conservative, where we recognize that there are a lot of good libertarian ideas, but the means to the end must to slow and laborous, or else populist movements will derail them and push them to even further liberal waters. I consider myself a “fusionist”, where I agree with parts of libertarian thinking but know that it won’t work by pushing through reforms; the reforms must be natural and slow. Some l’s get this, others don’t. By pointing out this to all of them, however, it shows them that the Republican party is not necessarily showing malice towards Paul of his points. Rather, they want to do things the right way, incorporate the three legged stool, and pass GOOD legislation. This is part of the reason Reagan is the “king of the hill” for all legs; he accompanied all three stools with his policies and his ideologies.

  • Jan 19th 201219:01
    by Curt

    Travis, I think you give RP way more credit than he deserves. The only reason that the Republicans won’t win this fall is that they have fielded a group of presidential candidates where the only intelligent way to choose the nominee is by figuring out who is the least worst candidate.

    Seriously…Bachman, Perry, Gingrich, Paul, Santorum and Romney? They are like the Three Stooges times two. They are all incredibly flawed candidates. It is actually kind of sad and says something about the national party that this is the best that they could come up with. (Oh, wait…I forgot about Cain. LOL. Well, you probably want to forget about him too.)

  • Jan 20th 201220:01
    by Travis

    Sorry for the delay Curt, I don’t know why it didn’t automatically add it, it’s supposed to after the initial vetting process. Perhaps I do give Paul more credit than he deserves, but though I’m personally not a fan of his I try and be fair in my assessments. I’ll agree that the field should have looked a LOT better, and unless each of the final 4 do a lot of improving Obama will win again. I still like Perry, as a whole, and think he had the best record out of all of them. I think we may see more of him in the future, after he takes some time and learns how to debate.

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