Monday, August 01, 2011

Hope and Change: A View From the Right

For socially and politically conservative U. S. citizens the current crop of Republican presidential contenders is ill defined and weak. Those waiting in the wings – governors Rick Perry and Chris Christie – will not necessarily change this status. The perceived leader in the race – Mitt Romney – seems to me to be the least likely to actually win a national election against anyone. He represents more of the same old tired rhetoric with a handsome face, a tailored suit and a wad of cash. And with all due respect I am doubtful that the body politic is yet willing to elect a Mormon to the highest political office in our land. I recall the dark cloak that surrounded JFK in 1960 because of his Catholicism. Yes, he won a very close race against Richard Nixon but the Catholic issue – rightly on wrongly – was a palpable factor in that election. I predict the Mormon issue will be a prominent issue – in a negative way – for Governor Romney; to such a degree that I’ll bet he won’t make it through the primaries.
However, there is one candidate that makes sense and speaks sense: Representative Ron Paul (R-TX.) The question: is he electable? Once again, there is history and it is, sadly, not on his side. I refer, of course, to Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) in 1964. Goldwater suffered a crushing defeat in his presidential bid against his incumbent rival, Lyndon Johnson. He only garnered about 38% of the national popular vote and carried only 6 states – his home state of Arizona (by a very slim margin) and 5 states that traditionally make up the ‘deep south.’ He was much more a libertarian than a run-of-the-mill Republican. Goldwater fought against unions, championed states rights, tried to bring down FDR’s welfare state, rallied against The United Nations and voted against The Civil Rights Act – not because of its goals but because it mandated federal jurisdiction and interference in both state and personal decision-making. He was very much an anti-Communist and also perceived to be a military ‘hawk’ during our early years in Vietnam. Notwithstanding his devastating defeat against Johnson in his presidential campaign, Goldwater is still considered a brilliant thinker, a conservative standard bearer and a clearly defined, unwavering politician. He did not mince words; he did not lie; he did not marginalize his position.
And now we have Rep. Ron Paul; not exactly a parallel story, but similar. Here is one extreme and misunderstood example of Pauls’ political posture: he wants to immediately end every war in which the U. S. is currently involved. He does this for 3 fundamental reasons: why are we meddling in the affairs of other sovereign governments; why are we losing American lives in the process and why are we spending so much money doing so? Is this radical? Is this right wing? Is this unacceptable? Is the posture of ending all current wars an unelectable political stance?
Another extreme example of Ron Pauls’ extreme message: The Federal Reserve has ravaged (and will ultimately ruin) our economy, our wealth and our country; it should be dismantled. Is this radical? Is this right wing extremism? Is this unacceptable? Is the posture of exposing a protected, mysterious and ruinous organization that has systematically destroyed our freedom an unelectable political stance?
Rep. Paul (much like Goldwater) seldom involves himself in the polarizing debates over the social issues of our day. His is a posture of individual freedom. Extreme? Unelectable?
What nobody heard (or what the media and other politicians chose not to hear) during this debt ceiling debacle was Paul’s simple reasoning (I paraphrase:) Freeze spending at current rates for 10 years and the debt problem fixes itself; no bizarre calculations; no rabbits out of the hat; no cards up the sleeve; no line item bickering; no pork, etc. Extreme? Unelectable?
When we refuse to listen to the truth because of its packaging or branding the debate becomes flat-lined (business as usual.) Give this guy a chance: he is down to earth, a bit unusual, wonderfully refreshing and logical. Sadly, in our selfish, angry and devolved society these may be his biggest flaws.