Remember that 1/3rd of the GOP constituency that stayed home the last two elections because they wouldn’t vote for moderates like John McCain or Mitt Romney? Well, there was a new poll released Thursday (8/14) from McClatchy-Marist showing that Hillary Clinton would lose if the election was held today against any of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush or Rand Paul, the three toppers for the GOP, according to the poll.
In my opinion, only Rand Paul has a shot at getting that 1/3rd to come out and vote for him. This 1/3rd – call them Christian fundamentalists, call them Tea Partiers, call them what you will, these labels don’t fully identify this group – will stay at home again if Chris Christie or Jeb Bush is the GOP nominee for the presidency. Christie is the favorite of the Establishment press, which will turn on Christie in favor of the Dem just as soon as they get Christie nominated. He appears to be the most liberal of the three. The 1/3rd will stay home if Christie is the nominee. They will not see him as much different than Hillary. Two fat people with different baggage, but both with fat baggage.
The 1/3rd that came out to vote for George W Bush on the exhaustive media reports that he was a conservative and a Christian believed by the end of eight years that they were sorely betrayed. No Child Left Behind, Tri-Care for Life, an expanded Medicare drug benefit, two needless exercises in nation building abroad convinced this constituency that Bush was just another big government moderate. What did conservatives get for their Bush votes: Sam Alito on the Supreme Court. That’s it. John Roberts as Chief Justice is a train wreck for conservatives. And remember when Bush tried to appoint Harriet Myers to the Supreme Court? Conservatives went into angry overdrive to make sure that didn’t happen. Bush destroyed the confidence that conservatives had in him. His father wasn’t too good either. Bush senior is the guy that appointed David Souter to the court, a judge that turned out very liberal. The 1/3rd will not go to the polls to vote for Jeb Bush. They will stay home. No more Bushes. Bush is a tarnished brand. Any Bush is not to be trusted.
Rand Paul must get that 1/3rd to win the GOP nomination. He’s likely to make a good showing in Iowa, but almost certain to lose New Hampshire to both Christie and Bush. He can win in the small states of the south, but will have trouble in Florida and Texas, where Jeb Bush has more and powerful connections.
With Governor Perry’s indictment on felonies (abuse of power) in Texas, he may be hobbled by legal problems that take him out of competition. It may be difficult for him to make his problems go away by primary time. The legal system churns slowly. But if Perry somehow manages to put this behind him quickly, he will attract more support than either Christie or Bush. He will likely win Texas, but lose Florida to Bush. In any case, a viable Perry would be problematic for all three of the other top contenders. But his indictment makes him a long shot at the present moment.
Christie and Bush are men without important convictions, except that each believes he should be the president. They each fall in the category of a Bob Dole or Bill Clinton: one hand outstretched to shake yours and the other in the air, finger up to ascertain direction of political winds and the latest poll results. Neither man is likely to make the “moral argument” as Dennis Prager calls it. Prager states that the candidate that makes this argument always wins the election. Obama did that in each of the last two elections. His opponents did not. But few voters understood that McCain and Romney each failed to rebut Obama by showcasing an opposing view of morality. And so Obama’s pitch for socialism cloaked in tag lines of making others pay their fair share and castigating fat cat bankers – forget that government induced banks to misbehave by pushing very questionable lending practices and failed to make prudent regulatory decisions about capital cushions for investment banks – carried the day, every day of the campaign season, and then election day. Unopposed.
Though a fiery and opinionated man, Christie is not likely capable of making a moral argument. Time will tell, but he appears to be first and only a fiscal conservative, with nothing else to offer. Bush might try, but he is not to be trusted. The public has learned about the Bushes. Most of the public will be more forgetful after a long season of political advertising. But to the 1/3rd, any Bush is beyond redemption. Only Jesus himself could sway the 1/3rd to back another Bush.
I see no one better equipped to make the moral arguments for economic and political liberty than Rand Paul. His challenge will be one of personal decision. Will he take the low road of all politicians when facing the gay lobby? Or will he take the high road and make the moral argument as he does elsewhere? His answer will determine whether he gets the 1/3rd to back him. If he takes the high road, he will take a tremendous barrage of media criticism and attacks from the gay lobby that may shake his soul. He may wish he’d never entered public life. Death threats and threats against his family will occur. Not may. It is certain. This is how the gay lobby works. Threats and intimidation. They will go after his backers, too. Anyone on his list of donors will become a target of the gay lobby. They are vicious and relentless. If your name is on the donor list, the gay lobby will contact your employer seeking to have you fired for your bigoted, hateful, discriminatory views. So be ready for it. But if Rand faces the gay lobby head on and does not cower, he will win he nomination and the general election. He will be on his way to becoming not just president, but the greatest president of the still new 21st century. No group knows this better than the gay lobby.
If he decides to take the low road of all politicians, he will fade into likeness of Christie, Bush, perhaps Perry, and other candidates, who have only this singular conviction: “I should be president.” These men represent the worst in American political tradition, i.e., the ideology of political pragmatism, first given voice by William James, a philosopher and psychologist, who was educated and later served on the faculty at Harvard, and whose brother was the famous Henry James, an American novelist. William James was a man of great mind and little soul. His pragmatism, still an important part of the fabric on both sides of he political aisle, rules America more and more with each ebb in our religious life, our fidelity to principle, our faith in the judeo-christian god, the nuclear family, self-respect, and more. In pragmatism, all things are open to negotiation. Anything is available at the right price.
Will Rand Paul will make he right choice? If he does, he can win and become a great leader, but not without great cost, at least initially. If he chooses otherwise, he seems likely to lose the 1/3rd and the election, assuming he can win the GOP nomination, which will be in great doubt in the absence of some distinction in public policy that will separate him from the better funded competition. Facing down the intimidation of the powerful gay lobby is that distinction. His courage will be be a beacon to his natural constituency: small government conservatives and Christians that believe the government is too powerful and has become tyrannical with its moralizing on the wrong side of issues (abortion, gay marriage, no fault divorce, idolatry of poverty, race relations, and more). These same Americans are near the verge of no hope. Paul appears to be the only candidate with potential to revive that spirit of hope. But if he does, it will be because he permitted himself to be more informed by the judeo-christian standard of morality than by libertarian doctrine. Both appear to be critical aspects of his view of the world. Which will dominate? And what emphasis is most needed to win the White House?