In watching the debate last night, I was struck with a realization of our predicament as a party and as a movement. After watching the debate, I came away with the thought that only three of the candidates are ready to be President, from a knowledge and competence standpoint. Mitt (not Willard) Romney, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman.
There is no doubt that each has flaws. Romney is a serial flip-flopper and incredibly lame. Gingrich is an intelligent person, but his conservatism has been sketchy. Newt also comes across as arrogant and condescending. Huntsman is also not consistently conservative, but is probably conservative enough. His problems are the fact that he’s even lamer than Romney and that he’s a bit of a weasel. While Huntsman’s policy views have remained consistent, his act of betrayal while Ambassador to China is as close to unforgivable as it gets. While I’m no fan of Zero, he was Huntsman’s boss. The fact that Huntsman had no moral qualms about undercutting his boss and, by extension, his country while serving as this nation’s Ambassador to its largest creditor and military adversary speaks volumes about his character and it isn’t good.
As to the others, Perry has a great record in Texas, but you cannot come off as borderline illiterate. Bachmann knows her stuff, but she says incredibly stupid stuff far too often. Santorum got whacked in his re-election in Pennsylvania. Paul looks like Ray Walston’s character in My Favorite Martian and Herman Cain is not prepared for this job (although I suspect that he’d make a great Secretary of Commerce).
Thus, this is the situation that we find ourselves in. None of these individuals are exactly worthy of going all out for. None of these people are Reagan, or anything close. Yet, we all know that, if Obama gets re-elected, America’s best days will truly be behind her. So, in order to prevent such a calamity, I believe that we’re going to have to swallow hard, pinch our noses and vote for one of these characters. The question, of course, then becomes which one is least odious.
In making such a determination, it is useful to discuss how one gets elected President. In order to get elected President, a candidate must win the suburbs. Utilizing my home area as an example, one must win Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware Counties in Pennsylvania, as well as Burlington, Camden, Gloucester counties in New Jersey. If we assume for a moment (I am fully aware what happens when you assume) that roughly 30% of the electorate is independent and that most of these 30% live in the suburbs, we must figure out a way to ensure that we get at least 50%+1 of these 30%.
The folks who make up these 30% are the people we see around town. They work long hours, attend the kids’ soccer games and have neighborhood bbq’s. Maybe they take two vacations a year (usually one during the summer and one in the week between Christmas and New Year’s). The only time they get involved in politics is during a Presidential election or when a particular issue affects them. For example, a woman that I am very close to only really cares about politics as it effects her nephew, who is a special needs student. Otherwise, she doesn’t really want to be bothered. She likes Obama, but recognizes that he isn’t particularly good at his job. So, she’s open to voting for someone else. I would argue that this is the typical independent voter.
Thus, the trick is to figure out which of these candidates would encourage our base to come out, while attracting the voter I described above. Romney and Huntsman would attract the voter above, but doesn’t excite the base. Perry, Bachmann and Cain would do well with the base, but wouldn’t attract the above voter. Again, Santorum and Paul are afterthoughts. Gingrich is interesting because he does attract some support in the base, but has enough moderate views that he could do well enough in the suburbs, so as to take support away from Obama. His problem is that most women think he’s a bit of a scumbag.
As you can see, none of these candidates fit the bill. But, as stated above, an Obama re-election would be a complete disaster for the country. Therefore, I am resigning myself to the reality that we will probably have to support someone that is not that conservative in order to deprive Obama from his goal of “fundamental transformation.” Voting for a Romney, Huntsman or Gingrich is kind of like eating a TV dinner. It’s not terribly exciting, but it’ll get the job done.
I am not suggesting that you vote for anyone in particular. That is a matter for you and your conscience to decide. What I am suggesting is that, whoever wins this nomination, we galvanize our support for that person, as any of these people would be dramatically better than the Statist in Chief. Also, I would suggest that we turn our attention to making sure we elect enough conservatives to the House and Senate that repeal of Obamacare is virtually assured. I would also suggest that we, as conservatives, unite behind a truly conservative choice for Speaker (Paul Ryan, for example) and Majority Leader (might I suggest Jim DeMint). As I see it, with a conservative-led House and Senate, Romney, Huntsman or Gingrich would probably be good enough as President.
Just a suggestion.