Now that we are well into the presidential primary season, I figured that it was time to update an article I wrote a few months ago entitled,“Don’'t Encourage Them”. I argued that only the top tier candidates in the Republican primary had a shot and that it would probably come down to Giuliani, McCain and Romney. I also argued that Giuliani was unacceptable from a Catholic perspective, McCain is unacceptable from a politically conservative perspective and that Romney’s Mormonism and pandering/flip-flops should trouble Catholics and Evangelical conservatives alike. My pre-Iowa Caucus article has proven to be fairly accurate (more so than most pundits who make the same kind of suppositions and educated guesses), but I did underestimate a few factors. I also failed to see the dynamics of the Democratic primary that is potentially more important and hopeful than anything on the Republican side.
I underestimated: 1) The riskiness of Giuliani’s bet-everything-on-Florida campaign strategy. 2) The fondness of the mainstream media for McCain and the enduring respect given him by veterans. 3) The influence of Romney’s enormous fortune on many “fiscally conservative” non-profits, think tanks, publications and pundits. 4) The organization of evangelical super-churches and home-schoolers, and their willingness to vote for a man solely on the basis of his having been a Southern Baptist minister.
I’'m writing this article a few days before the Florida primary. What happens on the evening of the Florida Republican primary will prove Giuliani and his political consultants either geniuses or morons. Giuliani was the party favorite going into the Republican primary season, but he largely opted out of Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina. This caused him to lose momentum, drop in the polls and made his rivals appear to be more electable. Had Giuliani campaigned hard in the early states, he likely would have won one or two, and would have severely diminished the more moderate Republican candidates, namely McCain and Romney. Instead, he bet everything on Florida because Florida (which is largely populated by folks who once hailed from NY and NJ) leans in his direction, is one of the largest population states in the nation, is the only state he could win south of the Mason-Dixon line and it is a “winner take all” state, which means that if he wins he gets all of the delegates (many other states divide them by vote total). By the time this article is published, we will know what has happened in Florida. But, I am going to go out on a limb and predict that Giuliani either wins Florida due to early and absentee voting, or finishes second. If he wins, he will easily carry enough high population New England states and California to win the nomination. If he places second, he is weakened but still in the running. If he places third or lower, Giuliani is finished.
McCain could well win Florida and carry all of the states that would tend toward Giuliani, if he beats him decisively. He could also carry many western states and states in the south and mid-west that have high veteran populations. Although McCain is a maverick, despised by conservative Republicans and distrusted by the GOP establishment, he is an honest to goodness war hero. McCain also has the mainstream media on his side – they love him. He is funny and unpredictable, he has criticized their enemy (no, not Al Qaeda – GW Bush) and he has welcomed them behind the scenes of his campaign. I like him as well and I believe he deserves a great deal more respect for his service than he is often given by conservative media. I also abhor the tactics used by the likes of Ralph Reid and Pat Robertson (or persons associated with them) eight years ago in South Carolina, when they spread rumors saying that, while McCain was held captive by the Viet Cong, he became a traitor against America and that he has fathered illegitimate children – no one who trades in such despicable lies should be allowed to call themselves Christian political figures! However, I would never vote for McCain as president. That said, he is the man to beat as the race stands now.
Romney has solid footing in the polls. At this point, he is the second most likely to win the nomination. Romney has spent tens of millions already, and has tens of millions more to spend. His money is the reason for his popularity – that, and the open lack of conservative principles in Giuliani and McCain. Romney has transformed himself from a pro-abortion politician who claimed to be more pro-gay than Ted Kennedy when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, to a supposedly pro-life, anti-gay marriage, family values, conservative Republican. He is the guy who calls himself the most fiscally conservative candidate in the Republican primary while promising billons of tax-payer dollars to subsidize the failing auto industry in Michigan. He says it, and no one in the media calls him on it – probably because he is spending tens of millions of dollars in advertising with the companies that pay their salaries. He has given enough money to “Fiscally conservative” (as opposed to socially conservative) organizations that the folks from the Club for Growth, American Conservative Union, Cato Institute and all of the others, are strangely silent. Interestingly, many of the Log Cabin (pro-gay) Republican/conservative groups are strongly supporting Romney. One can only speculate why, but the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts (which Romney supposedly opposed both then and now) may give one a clue. Also, Romney is winning the Mormon vote almost unanimously, and they are spending millions to support his efforts.
Huckabee surprised me. I had evaluated him before and decided that he was a lack-luster candidate, a governor with no ideological compass except to support whatever was popular at the time and that he wasn’t the brightest bulb. The evangelicals came out in force for him in Iowa, though. I assumed they would go for Fred Thompson, but for reasons that I detailed in my aforementioned earlier article, they did not. The evangelical ministers got behind their fellow evangelical former minister, and they carried the day for him with remarkable effectiveness. Huckabee never explained his positions in detail, except for his tax plan (which I thought was a great idea), but he was allowed to deliver a sermon in the largest evangelical super church in South Carolina – that message was pretty clear; he is the Christian, vote for him! Huckabee lost South Carolina though, and he is done. He may win a few more states on “Super-duper-Tuesday”, but for all intents and purposes his candidacy has ended….. along with that of Fred Thompson, who was the only other candidate in the bunch who claimed to be both fiscally and socially conservative. Well, that isn’t quite true; Romney claims it, but I’m not buying it.
That leaves Ron Paul. No one in his right mind believes that Ron Paul will get the Republican nomination. He is, however, the only small government true conservative left in the race. Paul actually believes in reducing the size and scope of government. He is the only person saying the kind of things about personal freedom and independence that Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich used to say. He is the only person who could repeat that famous Reagan line with a straight face, The scariest words in the English Language are, ‘We are from the government and we are here to help.” He actually talks about cutting taxes and spending, AND means it! He actually mentions things that used to be top on the Republican list of priorities like ending federal involvement in public education, getting rid of the National Endowment for the Arts, privatizing social security, ending welfare, pulling the US out of the UN, ending foreign aid and all of the other things that caused conservatives to rally to the Republican banner over the past 30 years. Unfortunately, he is also a complete nutball on national defense and foreign policy, and no rational person could vote for him for that reason and that reason alone. He would surrender in the War on Terror, withdraw from the world stage and leave our nation at the mercy of any power who threatened us.
That said, Ron Paul is carrying at least 10% of the Republican primary vote. He has raised millions of dollars more than he is spending on his primary campaign. He will likely run as an independent or Libertarian Party candidate. 2008 gives every indication that it will be a Democrat year. The Democratic candidate will probably win, no matter who the Republican candidate is. Even if it is a tight race though, Paul will carry 10 – 15% of the conservative vote and the Democrat will win. Paul’s top priority is to end the war in Iraq, so he is fine with this outcome.
So, what are the likely scenarios if Giuliani, McCain or Romney wins the nomination?
If Giuliani wins, the religious conservative base of the Republican Party – those who believe that abortion is absolutely evil, and who oppose gay marriage – will bolt the Republican Party. 30% or more of Republican voters will coalesce behind a third party, pro-life candidate; this includes all of Huckabee’s supporters and many Catholics. They will likely go to the Constitution Party, whose nominee would be someone along the lines of Gary Bauer or Alan Keyes (a well known Republican who would abandon the party over abortion and take many Republicans with him). These voters will be so angry at a Republican Party that has returned to its Nixonian dark days, that most will never come back. This will be the death of the Republican Party for at least a generation. They (we) will echo Reagan in his explanation of why he left the Democratic Party, “I didn’t leave them, they left me.”
If McCain wins, there will arise a third party candidate whose sole platform is in opposition to illegal immigration. I would not be surprised if this candidate were Chris Simcox of the Minute Men or Patrick J. Buchanan. 30% or more of the Republican Party is absolutely incensed over this issue. John McCain (along with our US bishops) fails to recognize that along with good, decent, hard working people who are crossing the border for a better life for their families are terrorists, drug traffickers, human traffickers and ultra-violent gangs like MS-13. They have no respect for the rule of law. I, along with most Americans, wish to see an increase in legal immigration and look forward to the positive influence of Mexican and South American immigrants on our floundering culture, but I oppose illegal immigration and see many obvious flaws in McCain’s amnesty plans. In response, McCain and President Bush have branded me racist. This offends me. If McCain wins the nomination I and perhaps a majority of others will turn our backs on the Republican Party.
If Romney wins the nomination, I see no third party candidate arising. However, Huckabee supporters, many Catholics and Jews will stay home on Election Day, refusing to vote for him. Mormonism is an anti-Catholic (even anti-Christian) and anti-Semitic cult, using Romney to promote its interests like the Scientologists use Tom Cruise. Moreover, Romney is disingenuous, a panderer who will adopt any position to win election. He is buying the election, but he cannot buy the Christian vote. His nomination would not destroy the Republican Party, but it would ensure a Democratic landslide – the South will not vote for him.
So, there are no good options. Simply put, good people are shut out by a very corrupt (and often very gay) Republican Party establishment. I’ll revisit this issue later, but sources tell me that a great deal of Republican scandal will be revealed between now and November. Expect the outing of at least 4 more high profile gay Republican congressmen and senators.
That leaves us with the Democrats – all of whom are unacceptable from a Catholic Perspective. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards all support abortion. Any Catholic who votes for them separates himself from the Church.
John Edwards has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination. He does, however, stand a very good chance of winning the vice-presidential nomination. I do not recall meeting Edwards personally, but he has been a family friend. Edwards has made his fortune and his political career on exploiting the poor, lying convincingly and looking pretty. He is an old style populist Democrat. Were this the 1930s, he would probably win – that seems to be the era for which his rhetoric was crafted. When he speaks one envisions Oakies and dustbowls….
Hillary Clinton is a totalitarian fascist. She learned her rhetorical skills from Saul Alinsky, the socialist propagandist who wrote “Rules for Radicals”. She is vicious, duplicitous and determined. She is an LBJ Democrat running in McCarthy/Carter sheep’s clothing. Power is her god. She is a complete cynic who practices a REAL POLITIK political theory – all truth is subservient to political goals of attaining power. If Democrats elect her, they are admitting that they believe in nothing – no ideology, no hope, no God, no morality – only temporal power, where might makes right.
Barack Obama offers Democrats a choice. He is just as liberal as the other Democrats, just as committed to abortion and surrender in the War on Terror. But, he is positive, likable, seemingly honest and inspirational. I like Obama, although I would not vote for him; I believe there is room for an honest liberal in American politics. I believe this is even a necessity. Obama, if he is true to his word, would end the era of the “politics of personal destruction” as practiced by the Clintons and far too many Republicans. Imagine a return to reasoned, honest debate between civil people who treat each other with respect and who honestly want the best for our nation! This is the alternative Obama offers; I pray that he is an honest man.
It is almost assured that our next president will be a Democrat. I pray that he will be an honest man of good faith – not the wicked witch of the east! The political landscape may be very different after 2008. The two party system could give way to multiple parties of ideas and genuine ideology. Maybe, just maybe, Obama is the new man of the new millennium of post-baby-boomer politics – not a man that Catholics, Evangelicals and conservatives could support, but maybe a type, a model of a more hopeful future…. a future in which people stop shouting, begin talking and start trying to solve the problems of our nation for the greater good. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I do hope.