Do the Republicans Deserve to Lose?

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Liberty readers presumably want to defeat President Obama and the Democrats. Apart from his beliefs, policies, and associates, Obama is a decent man. His challenger, to have a chance of winning, should be one also. Moreover, he should not have so much in his background requiring excuses and apologies — no matter how valid — as to preempt the voters’ limited attention from policy issues.

No one has a right to the nomination, or to complain about unfairness if he doesn’t get it. Electability is a reasonable requirement even for the most decent person.

Gingrich’s excuses and apologies are not even good ones, in my view, even though they may work in campaigning. His undistinguished record at West Georgia College, his questionable ethics and other reasons for being forced out of the speakership and even out of Congress, his half-truths, his “grandiosity” (so identified by Rick Santorum), and his marital infidelities all testify to his character. His claim to have changed his character and to have received or at least to have asked for God’s forgiveness strikes me as disgusting hypocrisy.

In a column in the Opelika-Auburn News of January 21, the paper’s publisher aptly calls Gingrich “an arrogant, hypocritical, corrupt blowhard” who “is disliked most fervently by those people who know him best. . . .” In my word, he is a slimy character.

Mitt Romney seems competent; and if he commits himself to so-called conservative policies, however belatedly, I suppose that he will faithfully pursue them. He could quite probably justify how he made his money and why he paid low taxes; but his doing so, however soundly, will leave a residue of doubt with many voters and will divert time and attention from real issues. He lacks charisma. Again, it is not unfair to expect electability of a candidate.

Rick Santorum appears to be a decent person, but he devotes too much attention to pushing socially conservative views rather than to real economic and fiscal problems. Ron Paul is sincere and passionate; but the voting public is not ready for consistent libertarianism, perhaps especially not on foreign policy. Gary Johnson would have been a more persuasive candidate inclined toward libertarianism. In comparison with the now remaining four aspirants, Jon Huntsman appealed to me.

It is hackneyed but relevant to recognize that the personal characteristics required of a successful campaigner are quite different from those of a high government official. What could be done? The Founding Fathers, well versed in history, had foresight. The Constitution, Article II, Section 1, says that each state shall appoint presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct. . . .” The legislatures might constitutionally specify the appointment of electors otherwise than by statewide direct popular vote, conceivably even by lot (although better ideas may turn up). And the electors from all the states might be encouraged to meet and discuss candidates before casting their votes. Of course, no such reform is in the cards.

As things now stand, I am afraid that Bret Stephens is right in his Wall Street Journal opinion piece of January 24: “The GOP Deserves to Lose.” I’d appreciate being shown why my pessimism is mistaken.




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Comments

Visitor

The author gives too much credit to Paul for "consistent libertarianism".

Paul's position on immigration is far from Libertarian. Let alone his back room deals to obtain federal funding for his district. And there is his kooky past talks of tri-lateral , illuminate oddities.

But the author is correct that Republicans do not want to vote for libertarians. Which is a very good reason for libertarians to not run in Republican primaries.

Rodney Choate

Mr. Visitor,

Your critique of Paul's position on immigration assumes that what is considered to be the standard libertarian position on it is completely thought out and just, both as a short term solution as well as a long term goal. This is not the case. Paul's position is correct for the time being. In a free world borders would be open. But the world is not free.

Regarding his continued securing of a certain amount of federal funds for his district even as he votes "NO" for the bills- this too is completely correct. If everyone else also voted "NO", then the bills would not pass and there would be no bad money. But if the bills pass, the people of Paul's district have every right to equal treatment to the rest of the country. I consider it a compliment to Paul's ability if he actually pulls off what I've described. As long as he votes "NO" for the bad bills, he is morally white.

Responding now to the main article. That the conservatives now expect to win, not because they are so moral, but because their opponents are so evil, shows just how little our voters have learned from the danger we are in.

Thanks

Visitor

Ron Paul votes no for spending he has purposely put in, and he knows will pass despite his "principled" no vote. It is very hypocritical. Very similar to his taking of taxpayer money for his runs for office.

It is very much a "do as I say, not what I do" situation. He is a fraud.

Rosaline

Unfortunately, it's not the last time when we get to choose between politicians who never stand by the principles they promote in their campaigns. I often have the feeling there is no one left in there for whom I could actually vote...

Visitor

Not a dimes' worth of difference might be an understatement these days. Maybe a pennies worth of difference.
Obama, Romney, Newt, McCain, Bush..All the exact same policies. And the US public recognizes this. Probably why near 50% do not bother to vote for statist "a" against statist "b".

TodayInWhiteHistory

You libertarians need to realize that you're never going to win any major elections, and you're never going to create a viable 3rd party.

Even if Ron Paul, by some miracle, were to receive the nomination, he'd go down in flames worse than Walter Mondale or George McGovern come November.

Got it?

What you should be concentrating on is enacting your good ideas via special interest groups. Team up with NORML to help end the drug war, team up with the NRA to maintain our gun freedom, etc.

There's no reason why Libertarians cannot be one of the most powerful and feared lobbying groups in America. But you'll never create a 3rd party.

Herb Schaffler

If Ron Paul was going down in flames in a race against Obama, why does he do as well in the polls against Obama? He is second to Romney and does much better than Santorum and Gingrich. Gingrich does the worst.

Visitor

@Herb Schaffler,

"If Ron Paul was going down in flames...why does he do so well in polls....?"

Because they are "polls". Not very realistic ones at that. Very few americans know who Ron Paul is, let alone his policy positions. When they do learn of his positions, they do not vote for him. As evidenced in his previous and current elections.

The american people are far from libertarian, unfortunately. If Ron Paul were to run in the general election, he'd receive only slightly more than the LP candidate. Maybe 2% instead of 1%. That extra 1% would be for his nationalist positions, which are giving him 7% of Republicans. Of course, he does win his district in Texas. Because he is adept at paying off his supporters, while appearing to be against such government funded payoffs. Wink, wink, nod, nod.

Jon Harrison

Yeager sums things up quite nicely as usual. I mentioned in a comment here some time ago that Obama was likely to win in 2012; I feel more certain of it today. The Republican Party has gone astray since its great victory in the Congressional elections of 1994. Indeed, the party as reshaped by Gingrinch, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and the neocons bears only passing resemblance to the party of Goldwater and Reagan. The Republicans deserve to lose, and to keep losing until they finally adopt sensible and realistic policies.

A further point to consider is the low quality, generally, of people in politics today. Take the current Republican field, Ron Paul excepted. Gingrich is everything his former friends say he is. Santorum is so sanctimonious he makes Joe Lieberman seem likable. Romney is the best of the bunch, but really is a flip-flopper, a weathercock on most issues. He would be a disaster in terms of foreign policy, in my opinion. And he utterly lacks the common touch -- a major drawback at a time when the proletariat is in ferment.

We've been through such times before; the period between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt was an age of brass in American politics. But given the media environment of our age, which keeps most honest and able people from seeking office, it seems likely that we are in for a very long reign of mediocrity. Thank goodness the power and reach of government are bound to decline. Either bankruptcy or retrenchment is in our future, and one way or the other government will have to shrink.

We could do worse than another four years of Obama. But we won't have to, because the man is going to win another term.

drew

"We've been through such times before; the period between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt was an age of brass in American politics."

This is to overlook Grover Cleveland, one of the few men ever to occupy the White House possessed of both integrity and restraint, and one who thus, sadly, would not be welcome in either major party today.

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