Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Agree with Paul but Don't Elect Him

I haved dubbed this blog The Rational Conservative for a reason. I am personally, fiercely conservative, libertarian, Constitutional, and religious. I lean as far to the right (where it is correctly defined) as anyone I know. I believe passionately in the enumerated powers granted the Federal Government in the Constitution and NO MORE; that ALL other powers are reserved to the several states. I believe in a neutral, non-interventionist foreign policy where we build alliances based on free trade, not political favor; and only when absolutely necessary do we move to protect our sovereign national interest with the implements of war.

I adhere fervently to the idea that our rights to life, liberty and property descend to us from God, not from governments of men. I believe that our form of government and our cultural heritage are divinely directed and therefore exceptional in all the earth. Therefore I favor immigration to extend the blessings of liberty, but advocate a controlled, legal, and rationally limited immigration policy to assure assimilation and avoid the dissolution of our unique national character.

I am a free market capitalist convinced that with minimal government intervention, markets will self-regulate to protect consumers against abuse, avarice, and financial extreme through the virtues of innovation and competition; and that it is only when governments seek to artificially manipulate and micro-manage these markets for political advantage that the distortions occur that foster excess, decimate fortunes, introduce prejudice, and ruin lives. I am pro-life, pro-gun, pro-environment, and pro-religion but anti-abortion, anti-violence, anti-environmentalist, and anti-theocratic.

Among all the political parties and politicians, I identify most strongly with Libertarians and Ron Paul, though we probably part company on some social issues. Yet as a rational, pragmatic conservative, I think it's irrational to align with Paul's Presidential bid at this time. Here's why:
  1. Although Ron Paul is right about 97.8% of the time, he is personally a divider--not a uniter.
  2. Despite their historical fundamentalism, Paul's views, in today's America, are perhaps more radical than in the days of the revolution. That's a sad commentary, but a reality with which we must rationally deal.
  3. Because of 1 and 2 above, Paul simply can't win--and probably shouldn't as his presidency might do more harm than good in the attempt to move toward a more rational free-market, libertarian America. He, like Obama, would likely be a one-term president.
Let me explain. In some respects, Obama has been a blessing for conservatism because he has exposed the radicalism and anti-American agenda behind the modern Democratic party. He has revealed to America the flaws and failures of a top-down, redistributive, bureaucratic state. He's done it by forcefully pursuing a radically anti-capitalist, anti-states rights, anti-business, federal interventionist domestic agenda while maintaining the international policies so unpopular under Bush. As a result, 52% of Americans now feel he should be removed from office vs. only 43% who think he should remain. Vastly more disagree with his handling of specific issues like the economy, healthcare, and other tenets of his radical agenda. And DESPITE a complicit national news media, academic community AND strong support from crony capitalists on Wall Street and in Hollywood, Obama is the poster child for the failure of a leftist policy agenda in America.

It's conceivable that Ron Paul would have a similar effect on conservative governance and therefore ultimately disserve the nation. It would be a case of too much, too fast. The immediate dissolution of the welfare state, sudden withdrawal of American forces and influence in the international scene, the too rapid return of authority to the states without an appropriate period of weening from the Federal government, and/or the elimination of the Federal Reserve could create as much, if not more short term uncertainty, pain and chaos as the nation has suffered under Obama.

Since Americans are reactionary, the result could be open rebellion against Paul and his Libertarian views, ultimately setting back rather than advancing the conservative cause. Instead, what appears to be called for right now, is a managed, principled roll-back of unaccountable federal statisim, and a measured return to market principles that will reinforce the direction and its positive effects allowing for a more rapid and aggressive return to first principles once their supremacy has been demonstrated to the populace.

Among the current crop of GOP candidates, Romney, who is less ideological, but has an impressive record of corrective management based on sound financial and executive policy, is probably the best choice. Gingrich articulates similar sound principles but shows a leadership deficit, and the remainder of the field appear potentially competent to the task but unable to amass sufficient popular support--so far at least.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingrich Disappoints, Probably Can't Win

Per my last post, I was squarely in the Gingrich camp. In fact I was there before Newt's stunning rise in the polls. I was convinced that he had the conservative chops, the Constitutional grounding, the smarts, the wit, and the political experience and savvy to whip Obama soundly in the general. I still think so. While his and Romney's records have been grossly mischaracterized by pundits on both the left and right--each is a solid, mainstream conservative and either would lead the country in the right direction and out of the economic malaise we find ourselves in under the Euro-socialist policies of President Obama and the Democrats.

But here's where I now part with Gingrich and find myself tilting towards Romney: Newt has failed to create a viable political organization. He created an exploratory committee in the LAST election cycle. He's had over four years to organize and raise funds for a viable campaign. But he's failed to do so. In fact, much of his organization defected to the Perry camp (an indictment on their judgment!), presumably because Newt wasn't serious about his candidacy. Perhaps they were right. The Speaker is unprepared. Come to find out, he barely made his filing deadline in Ohio (meaning he wouldn't have shown up on the ballot) and is currently scrambling to amass the required number of signatures in Virginia, where he LEADS IN THE POLLS, to obtain ballot status there!

How can his ineptitude as Chief Executive of his own campaign translate into a winning formula for the highest office in the land--especially against the presumed billion-dollar assault that will be hurled at him by the Obama camp? No, it's not Newt's political baggage, his controversial personal attributes, or even some of his wild hair ideas (like executive judicial review) that will eventually sink him. Ironically, and perhaps appropriately, it's his deficiencies as an executive that will prevent him from becoming America's CEO. Fortunately for Romney, the "turn-around king," that's where he truly shines. And it's why, despite his unfortunate lack of appeal to misguided Tea Party conservatives, Mitt's helmsmanship remains our best shot at turning around this storm-tossed ship of state and returning to more prosperous and libertarian waters.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let the Debates Begin...

Now that the election cycle is ramping into full campaign mode, I guess it's time for me to revive my rational views. A few observations on last night's Republican debate in Las Vegas:

Rick Perry is a gonner. If it weren't for his money machine and political connections, he wouldn't stand a chance. His cheap shot at Romney's immigration scandal (the inadvertent "hiring" of illegal immigrants employed by his lawn care service while Mitt was running for governor of MA), his indefensible "magnet" to illegals in the form of education subsidies, his weak-kneed "apology" for his campaign's slam on Romney's religion, and his misleading comparison of job creation statistics in Texas vs. Massachusetts made him look small and angry. While some pundits lauded his new "fire in the belly" he continues to lack appeal, fall far short of presidential, and will not rally voters.

Despite the folly of taking Perry's bait and allowing himself to be dragged into petty name-calling, Mitt Romney, overall, continues to improve his stance; in his articulation of issues, his strength and passion about the key conservative levers of economic revival, and therefore, his viability as a legitimate presidential contender. Romney will continue to solidify his base of support and gradually pull in more conservatives who will begin to trust the conviction behind his rhetoric and policy positions. While less charismatic than Herman Cain, and less principled than Ron Paul, Romney has a center conservative core and pragmatic understanding of government along with considerable capitalist chops that will continue to make him attractive to America's center-right.  Not to mention his financial war chest. All this despite the "Mormon problem." Romney IS the man to beat and come Convention, most Republicans will feel fairly comfortable hanging their chad on an "electable" Mitt.

Herman Cain, I believe, has peaked. His 9-9-9 plan, while cleverly appealing at first glance, lacks the substance and clarity to attract voters, nor is it a practicable solution, as Newt Gingrich adroitly pointed out. While Cain is attractive from his "outsider" perch, he seems too far from the window to be an effective Chief of State. He fumbled badly both in defense of his plan (perhaps because it's simply indefensible in the current political climate) and in his command of affairs both foreign and domestic. He seemed relatively inarticulate and simplistic when discussing international affairs ranging from military to immigration policy. Cain is simply not ready for prime time and I, for one, lost confidence in his candidacy last night. He may evolve into a legitimate VP contender, however.

So much for the top tier contenders. One has to be completely dazzled by Ron Paul's consistent, frank and unflappable ability to articulate the Constitutionally principled approach to governance at the Federal level. "The federal government is pretty much incapable of doing anything right," he whinnied at one point, as the crowd burst into cheers. Paul GETS IT! If it were 1787 he'd be the man! Paul's view reflects, almost exactly, my vision of the perfect America. A nation where the general government exists to protect the people in the free exercise of their individual liberties and most of the social problem solving occurs at the state and local levels. Where markets and free enterprise are the engines of prosperity and the state has, at best, a minimal role in the financial welfare of the people.  Paul's voice is perhaps the most important, articulate, and valuable on the American scene today because it jolts people (who listen) towards a more sound understanding of the principles on which the Republic stands and how they account for our remarkable success as a nation and incomparable contributions to humankind. In a word, FREEDOM. Sadly, however, we are so far removed from those fundamentals, that Paul is and will ever be considered fringe--and the re-implementation of those pure principles would unlikely be achieved under his leadership. He has never demonstrated great capacity to lead though his influence has doubtless proved a stumbling block for progressives. Paul is about 98% right but about 98% unelectable. And at this critical time, that may be a blessing as a more pragmatic transitional character may be needed to unite the nation.

That person, in my view, is Newt Gingrich. Gingrich consistently demonstrates the finer qualities of statesmanship. He is complimentary of his colleagues but draws clear, rational, principled distinctions between himself and his policies vs. other candidates and most especially, the presiding regime. He has a command of both domestic and foreign policy that is head and shoulders above any in the field, including the current Commander in Chief. Newt is an idea man who has articulated specific, pragmatic actions he could and would take as President that would immediately release the pent up potential in the American economic engine and kick it in gear. He's a principled pragmatist who knows how to get things done in Washington and has a proven track record of actually implementing conservative policies (the famous Contract with America) including welfare reform, balanced budgets, and job creation being cases in point--even while working with a Democrat Executive. Gingrich has an incomparable command of American history and policy and he would eviscerate Obama instantly in any debate. A Gingrich/Cain or Gingrich/Romney ticket could be VERY interesting. But Newt has the "Gingrich Problem." I don't know exactly what that is. Perhaps his scandalous affair and remarriage or maybe his million-dollar book deal. For whatever reason, Newt is perceived as unelectable, so perhaps he is.

The remaining two candidates, Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann have a narrow appeal to the most socially conservative among us. Of the two, Bachmann seems more appealing although Santorum has a unique track record for defeating incumbent liberals while articulating "hard core" conservative views. Both are uncompromising but somewhat less consistent. They would both, it seems to me, use the power of government to "do the right thing" as they see it. Whether that means preventing abortion, drug use, or gay "marriage," or maintaining an American military presence around the globe--even where it's neither welcome nor essential for US security. They (not Mitt Romney) hold the moral "religous" high ground which is why they occupy the electoral low ground.

In fine, my man is Newt but my money's on Mitt. At least at this stage of the game.