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Have Libertarians Forgotten the Republican Primaries?

10:13 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Back in September of 2010 I detailed in an article “Where Have all the Libertarian’s Gone?” how for all of the attention paid to Libertarian ideas there was little in the way of Libertarian electoral success to show for it. To wit: “In the din and roar surrounding politics in America today much is made of the importance of Libertarian thinking. Some have pointed out its importance to the Tea Party Movement…That said it’s interesting to consider the following two questions: First, if Libertarian ideas are so compelling, how come Libertarians garner such a small portion of actual votes during major electoral campaigns? Secondly, if Libertarians command such low voting totals, how is it that there is such a disproportionate number of Libertarian organizations and who is putting up the money to support them?”
 
Well when one stops to analyze the 2012 Republican Primaries the results continue to prove out my original premise. That is, for all of the continuing talk about the importance of Libertarian ideas there is precious little to show for it when actual results are examined. To date the have been 27 Republican Primary contests and 1031 delegates awarded. The Libertarian candidate, Ron Paul, has not won a single state and has only accumulated 50 delegates. His take equals 4.8% of the overall number of delegates awarded so far. Thus once again, based on empirical evidence, we can only conclude that Libertarians occupy a space on the American political landscape as nothing more than a sideshow to the big show, if not as an outright political oddity propelled forward by its own inertia. If Libertarians truly commanded a healthy amount of respect and political power they would have something to show for it and clearly they don’t. Some have made the case that Libertarians don’t need to vote for Libertarian candidates to be important within the electorate but if that’s the case then that would suggest that they don’t truly hold to the conviction of their own ideas. If the members of a movement won’t adhere to their core convictions and belief system then how can that movement be seen as viable or effective? Surely a Libertarian voting for any of the candidates other than Ron Paul would have to compromise his principles in so doing based on the political track records of Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, none of whom can be considered even remotely close to being a Libertarian.
 
Some political commentators have said that Ron Paul isn’t a true candidate, he’s a movement. Some have said that his stake in the 2012 Republican Primaries is an attempt to affect his own political rehabilitation or to pave the way for his son’s  political future. Whatever his motives one thing is for sure and that’s that he has made little impact if any in the race to defeat Barack Obama. Ron Paul has often complained that he isn’t getting the media coverage that he and his campaign deserves, but based on his performance thus far and his movement’s historically, he’s getting all the coverage that he deserves. Whatever Ron Paul’s goals one thing is for certain and that is that for all of the money pouring into Libertarian organizations like the Cato Institute via folks like the Koch Brothers, ad infinitum, the Libertarian message still fails to resonate with the Republican electorate in particular and the wider electorate in general. It’s either the aforementioned or America’s Libertarians have failed to notice that there’s a Republican Primary season underway and in full swing.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
3/23/12  
 
Sources:

Did the Republicans Already Lose Michigan and Ohio?‏

7:28 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

If the Michigan primary revealed anything it’s not just how precarious Mitt Romney’s fortunes are in his own home state, it’s how precarious the Republican Party’s fortunes may be in both Michigan and Ohio. In Michigan “the most striking fact from the exit polls there was the fact that four in ten primary voters said they supported the Obama Administration’s 2009 intervention to rescue the big automakers.” If this is the case in Michigan one could logically extrapolate a similar situation in Ohio as that state is second only to Michigan when you consider how important the auto industry is to the state’s economy.

Both Romney and Santorum, in their pandering to the extremists within the G.O.P. have railed against the auto industry bailout, Romney doing so even after he supported bailing out his Wall Street pals. Thus there is little damage they can to to each other in their struggle for the G.O.P. nomination. However, at the same time they could be unwittingly aiding and abetting the cause of Barack Obama in these states come November. To wit: “Before the auto giants began revving back up last year, Michigan was hurting so badly that it seemed capable of voting Republican for President for the first time since 1988. Not so much anymore. And Ohio? Obama is already holding his ground there against both Romney and Santorum (and has a solid lead if you discount one seemingly anomalous Fox News survey).”

To make matters worse for the G.O.P. Chrysler’s sales were recently at record levels and it’s profitable for the first time in years, G.M. is once again the world’s largest car maker, and, rank and file auto workers are going to get a profit sharing bonus. So let me ask everyone, how’s that bashing the auto bailout working for conservatives? Not to well, why even their opposition to Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl commercial blew up in their face and sent them scrambling into the damage control mode. Yup, it’s bad mojo to bet against the American worker and even worse mojo to root against your own country. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, its rhetoric on the auto bailout could be the gift that keeps on giving for Barack Obama and the Democrats.

S.J.G.

3/1/12

Source: Why the GOP Has Auto-Bailout Blues; http://swampland.time.com/2012/03/01/why-the-gop-has-auto-bailout-blues/?xid=thepage_newsletter

The Plutocrats Versus the People‏

12:21 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Whenever I hear a professional politician in Washington talking as if he he really understands our lot in life I can only laugh at the disconnect. I mean how likely is it that a sitting U.S. senator, who’s probably at least a multi-millionaire or a congressman, who’s time is consumed with fund raising would even have the faintest idea of the trials and tribulations of us ordinary souls. Well this situation is even more dramatic when viewed through the lens of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge him his success or his money and I’m not exactly broke either, but when viewed against the lives that the vast majority of us lead, Romney’s comments reveal just how different he is from the average American. Romney’s presidential campaign has been plagued by a number of inopportune remarks about money and wealth that have cast him in the light of a privileged character. His public misstatements prove to what extent he is truly divorced from our reality: ”Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are”; ”I’ll tell you what, ten-thousand bucks? $10,000 bet?”; ”I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.”;”There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip” and a comment which states that the $300,00.00 plus made on the speakers podium was “just a small part of my income” are all cases in point. Now I’ll give Romney a pass on the “I like firing people” and his comments on the poor, both of which were initially misunderstood by the media and thereafter grossly misrepresented. Jacob Heilbrunn writing in The National Interest said “Michael Kinsley famously defined defined a gaffe as something a politician inadvertently says that is true but also embarrassing. Mitt Romney’s remark yesterday about his not being concerned about the poor may fall into that category. It reinforces the perception that he is the 200 million dollar man–a politician who truly is out of touch with common folks.”
 
Now against this backdrop of Romney’s public pratfalls, there is another revelation that only serves to reinforce the image of his disconnected public persona, the fact that a relative few mega rich patrons are pouring millions into his campaign. An article recently written by Nicholas Confessore and Michael Luo, “G.O.P. Donors Showing Thirst to Oust Obama in November”, revealed “Close to 60 corporations and wealthy individuals gave checks of $100,000 or more to a “super PAC” supporting Mitt Romney in the months leading up to the Iowa caucuses…underwriting a $17 million blitz of advertising that has swamped his Republican rivals in the early primary states. The filings to the Federal Election Commission…showed his ability to win substantial backing from a small number of his party’s most influential and wealthy patrons, each contributing to the super PAC far more than the $2,500 check each could legally write to his campaign. All told, the group, Restore Our Future, raised about $18 million from just 200 donors in the second half of 2011.” A detailed look at who these few benefactors are can be seen in the aforementioned article and in “Who’s Financing the “Super PACs” cited below. A Washington Post article also shows how a relative few wealthy patrons are seeking to affect the 2012 political season: “There are probably fewer than 100 people who are fueling 90 percent of this outside money right now,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director at the Public Campaign Action Fund, an advocacy group favoring limits on political spending. “When you think about the amazing impact that this small number of people have on deciding the election, on the information that people will have on who to vote for, it’s mind-boggling.” Thus it goes without saying that if 100 to 200 people can determine the outcome of an election in a society of over 300 million that clearly would fit the definition of a plutocracy influencing politics to suit its own narrow interests.  
 
That’s not to say that Barack Obama doesn’t have his own well heeled patrons who could pony up large sums of money as well as the campaign progresses, but presently the influence of a wealthy few on funding the Republican primaries is undeniable. And even though Obama has been forced to encourage supporters to create and fund pro-Obama super Pacs as a means of self defense, the president in contrast to Mitt Romney, has relied far more on a grass-roots network of the people, individuals who donate smaller sums and “bundlers”, those who aggregate individual donations and then forward those contributions on to the Obama campaign. That’s a distinct contrast to the Romney fund raising machine which shows that the Republican elite is “relying far more heavily on independent groups empowered by court decisions that have made it easier for wealthy individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to intervene directly in election contests.”

 
The contrast between the efforts of a few and the rest of the American electorate is seen within the G.O.P. as well and is evident in part in the continuing overall lack of enthusiasm for Governor Romney. The cyclical and recurring rise and fall of a parade of “not Romney’s” and the recent emergence of the cash strapped Rick Santorum as a serious contender buoyed by popular conservative support represents another side of the story in the contest of the people versus the plutocrats. Santorum’s recent sweep of Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota shows the extent to which there is a continuing revolt within the Republican Party between its own grass-roots, predominately the Tea Party, and the establishment G.O.P. elite. This intra-G.O.P. revolt clearly represents a rejection of the mega donor in the primary process and an assertion of individual will. Whether or not Santorum, or whom ever replaces him as the anti-Romney candidate, can outlast the well funded Romney remains to be seen, but if someone other than Mitt Romney emerges as the Republican nominee, it will represent a victory for the conservative grass-roots over the establishment plutocrats who have boldly and blatantly tried to sway the Republican primary and with it the 2012 presidential election in their favor. Likewise the same would hold true if Barack Obama can reassemble his 2008 coalition and defeat Mitt Romney if he becomes the president’s eventual opponent. In the end if Mitt Romney is to prevail and become our next president and he does so in a low turnout election and with a small margin of victory it could only be seen as a victory of the plutocrats over the people and that would be a further setback to popular democracy in America.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
 
2/11/12
 
 
 
 
 
Washington Post: Tiny group of super-rich donors dominate primary; http://politics.salon.com/2012/01/17/tiny_group_of_super_rich_donors_dominate_primary/
 

Census Findings Reveal Bad News For Those Rooting Against America‏

6:09 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

I always find it galling when I see some who, in their pursuit of maligning and belittling Barck Obama, actually come across as rooting against America. A great example of that is the practice of always trying to undermine good employment news by focusing on the numbers of people who have dropped out of the labor force. Now I remember years back how Republicans never focused on labor force participation rates when liberals brought up issues related thereto in their arguments about the effectiveness of conservative economic policies as they related to employment. Thus I find it somewhat ironic as to just how much conservatives have come around to seeing the labor force drop out rate as an issue when once upon a time they had ignored it completely or spun it so as to lessen its importance. Now a guy named Massimo Calabresi has written an article that completely blows the latest criticism of the improving employment situation right out of the water: “January Jobs Report”: Good News for the Economy, Bad News for the Pessimists: http://swampland.time.com/2012/02/03/january-jobs-report-good-news-for-the-economy-bad-news-for-the-pessimists/?xid=thepage_newsletter#ixzz1lPZA3oLg
 
Here are a few of the high points: “Some Obama opponents are struggling to find a cloud in the silver lining of January’s jobs numbers, which estimated that there was a 243,000-job boost and a big drop in the unemployment rate, from 8.5% to 8.3%, last month. Their biggest gripe focuses on the size of the labor force: As the unemployment rate has trended down over the last few months, anti-Obama commentators have argued that the official percentage for those without jobs is deceptive because the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t count those who have stopped looking for work. In Friday’s report, they found a sharp increase in that group: More than 1.2 million people joined the non-job seeking pool of working-age Americans last month…I was ready to join the pessimists Friday morning when I saw the sharp drop in the unemployment rate, but for a different reason. The January unemployment report, I had been forewarned by BLS, was the first to be based on models using 2010 census figures. (All these numbers are guestimations based on surveys of smaller samples taken around the country). A big shift up or down in the unemployment rate, I thought, could be explained by the change in the overall population of the country, reflected in the census numbers…But the census adjustments actually work against my theory and that of the Obama-detractors. The demographic adjustments had no effect on the unemployment rate, says Mary Bowler, the resident expert in these matters at the BLS. And when it comes to labor force estimates, the steep jump in the number of those not seeking work came entirely from the census adjustment, which added 1.25 million people to that group. If you take out the census adjustment, the labor force numbers stayed essentially the same, as reflected by the labor force participation rate of 63.7%. In other words, the spike in the number of people no longer looking for work is entirely the result of some people at the Labor Department adding numbers to their spread sheets rather than an actual observed shift anywhere in the real economy.”
 
Okay so Calabresi’s revelation really does take a lot of the wind out of the sails of the Obama obsessed critics. I for one hadn’t thought of this and I know they didn’t either. Had they had this information they couldn’t have made the arguments they did in the first place, not without spinning and distorting the census information, that is. On top of this there are other statistics that point to economic improvement, Manufacturing employment up, construction employment up, improving employment prospects for young people and “the Institute for Supply Management on Friday reported that factory orders were up 1.1% in December, suggesting job growth may continue, at least in the manufacturing sector, as producers hire more workers to meet demand.”
 
So what will an improving economy mean for the Republican contenders going forward? Well for Romney it will take away a big part of his sales pitch to America, not the end of the world as he’ll need more time to defend himself from attacks on all sides about his being rich and out of touch. Likewise economic improvements will work against the criticisms of Gingrich and Santorum as well the larger claque on the far right who seem to love to root against their own country. Oh the pathos of irony!

The Tea Party’s Empty Dance Card

11:27 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Well there you have it, another onetime Tea Party favorite has dropped out of the 2012 race to be America’s president thereby shrinking the field of “viable” candidates that a Tea Party true believer could vote for this coming November. In fact one should even ask the question of whether or not there is a candidate still in the race that a true Tea Party member could legitimately support. Political columnist E.J. Dionne, to some degree, asked a similar question in: “Where are the Republican populists?” Quoting Dionne: “Members of the Tea Party insisted they were turning the GOP into a populist, anti-establishment bastion. Social conservatives have long argued that values and morals matter more than money. Yet in the end, the corporate and economically conservative wing of the Republican Party always seems to win.” That will leave members of the movement with a truly tough choice this November: Is there any candidate left in the race for which a real Tea Party supporter could vote without a compromising of one’s principles? Unless a third party candidate favorable to the Tea Party emerges, not exactly a development that would guarantee victory, the choices available to Tea Party members will be reduced to voting for a moderate Republican in Mitt Romney, not voting, giving up on the presidency and hoping that a rear guard electoral effort will maintain the House Tea Party Caucus or voting for Obama as a protest. The last choice is something the true believers would never do.

Presently it appears that rank and file Tea Party members have already started to compromise their principles. A recent Boston Globe article, “Tea Party’s opposition to Romney weakens” states: “The Tea Party and its dislike of the Massachusetts health care plan and Romney’s moderate record as Bay State governor were considerable impediments to his candidacy throughout 2011. But none of the Tea Party’s darlings – Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, or Gingrich – has been able to sustain a surge, highlighting limitations of a nascent movement that couldn’t extend its 2010 congressional successes onto the presidential stage…The latest polls suggest a good number of Tea Party supporters are getting behind the party’s most likely nominee [Romney], despite qualms about his record, because their overriding goal is removing Obama from the White House.” Likewise, just as the G.O.P.’s 2012 field is unsettled so are members of the Tea Party when it comes to who they currently support: “CBS reports that voters who identify with the Tea Party movement are similarly divided, with 29 percent supporting Romney, 28 percent supporting Gingrich, 18 percent supporting Santorum, and 12 percent supporting Paul.”

The fact that almost one third of the Tea Party members are backing Romney shows just how far principles on the hard right have eroded at this point in time. Likewise real conservatives would take umbrage with Newt Gingrich’s claim that he is the only true conservative in the race. Gingrich has a track record of clashing with conservatives on many issues. He called Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget reform ideas “right-wing social engineering”, has supported health care insurance mandates, been rather liberal in his views on accommodating illegal immigrants, admitted that climate change is real and needs to be addressed and even criticized the far right publicly on the issue of ideological purity saying: “You can have a very, very intense movement at 20 percent. You can’t govern. To govern, you’ve got to get 50 percent plus one after the recount.” And now in what could be a Herman Cain like moment Gingrich’s second wife is going public in her criticism of him in an expose that is hardly flattering and which will do nothing to endear him to social conservatives, particularly women.

Thus for the Tea Partiers we’re down to just two alternatives, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. If Ron Paul is anything it’s unelectable. His isolationist stance on foreign involvement and libertarian views on drug use are an anathema to the Republican establishment and most likely to the majority of the electorate as well. Paul’s libertarian views can be summarized as follows: “Paul believes: Gays should be allowed to marry; America’s foreign policy contributed to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks; U.S. defence spending should be slashed by 15%; Drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine should be decriminalized, and the United States should not come to Israel’s aid if it starts a shooting war with Iran.” With views like these we can effectively dismiss Ron Paul as a serious candidate for president.

That leaves us with Santorum and his acceptability to the Tea Party. One problem Santorum has always had is that he’s been a one trick pony, his overarching theme has been one of social values, something that helped him tremendously in Iowa. “CBS News entrance polling showed that Tea Party conservatives who participated in the caucuses largely supported Santorum. Among those who said they support the Tea Party movement, 29 percent caucused for him, compared with 19 percent for Paul and 19 percent for Mitt Romney.” But Iowa is atypical of the larger political landscape, its whiter, more evangelical, less urban and less affected by the Great Recession due to a strong demand for its agricultural produce. Just how well do the Tea Partiers know Rick Santorum? Since Iowa it’s come out that he was a master at earmarking federal largesse for western Pennsylvania, supported Medicare Part D, was a regular supporter of foreign aid and voted for No Child Left Behind, a federal program that “greatly expanded the federal government’s role in education.” Referencing a Ron Paul advertisement, Santorum is “another serial hypocrite who can’t be trusted.” It targets Santorum for voting five times to raise the debt ceiling, voting in favor of the notorious “bridge to nowhere,” and taking lobbyist cash, among other things.”

A good synopsis of Rick Santorum’s career on Capitol Hill can be found in Sheryl Stolberg’s recent article “Santorum Rose Quickly From Reformer to Insider” Quoting Stolberg: “But a look at the arc of Mr. Santorum’s political career, from his days as a fresh-faced College Republican to his bruising defeat for a third term in 2006, reveals a side of Mr. Santorum beyond that of reformer and abortion foe. He emerges as a savvy operator and sharp tactician, a climber who became a member of the Washington establishment that he had once railed against.” Thus can any true believer in the principles of the Tea Party movement consider Rick Santorum to be a bona fide upholder of the movement’s agenda? Not really. Does Santorum fit the description of a Beltway outsider who can be trusted to champion the agenda of the Tea Party movement? Not in the least, that is, if you want to be honest about whom Santorum is and what his past track record is all about. Once you peel the onion down a few layers past the exterior of standing up for family values what you’re left with is a professional politician and that’s hardly in line with the general tenor of the Tea Party movement.

Conservative columnist David Brooks points out much of what comprises Santorum’s world view is not exactly congruent with Tea Party principles. ”His worldview is not individualistic. His book, “It Takes a Family,” was infused with the conservative wing of Catholic social teaching. It was a broadside against Barry Goldwater-style conservatism in favor of one that emphasized family and social solidarity. While in Congress, he was a leader in nearly every serious piece of antipoverty legislation…He is not a representative of the corporate or financial wing of the party. Santorum certainly wants to reduce government spending. He certainly wants tax reform. But he goes out of his way in his speeches to pick fights with the “supply-siders.” Now many on the far right consider Brooks a “progressive” Republican but few would say the same of Erick Erickson who runs the ultra-conservative political blog RedState and who’s article “What a Big Government Conservative Looks Like” states: “Rick Santorum is a pro-life statist. He is. You will have to deal with it.  He is a big government conservative.  Santorum is right on social issues, but has never let his love of social issues stand in the way of the creeping expansion of the welfare state.  In fact, he has been complicit in the expansion of the welfare state… Santorum is a conservative. He is. But his conservatism is largely defined by his social positions and the ends to which government would be deployed. But he has chosen as the means to those conservative ends bigger government. We see big government conservatives most clearly when they deviate from the tireless efforts of people like Mike Pence and Jim DeMint and the others who were willing to oppose George W. Bush’s expansion of the welfare state. Rick Santorum was not among them.”

So with the abovementioned in mind, am I going out on a limb in pointing out that the Tea Party movement is effectively without a viable candidate for 2012? I don’t thinks so, not if by “viable” you mean a candidate that will put the principles of limiting big government’s influence in our daily lives at the forefront of their policy agenda and who actually has a chance at appealing to that vast raft of independent voters and being elected. If the CBS poll numbers are indicative of anything they show that three quarters of the Tea Party movement’s respondents are supporting a candidate other than one who espouses true Tea Party principles in either positions taken on past policy or personal behavior. Which get us back to E.J. Dionne: “Think about Romney’s rise in light of the overheated political analysis of 2010 that saw a Republican Party as being transformed by the Tea Party legions who, in alliance with an overlapping group of social and religious conservatives, would take the party away from the establishmentarians.

Certainly some of the movement’s failures can be attributed to a flawed set of competitors and the split on the right, especially Paul’s ability to siphon off a significant share of the Tea Party vote. That has made a consolidation of its forces impossible…But there is another possibility: that the GOP never was and never can be a populist party, that the term was always being misapplied, and that enough Republicans are quite comfortable with a Harvard-educated private-equity specialist.” If E.J. Dionne is correct, and I believe he is, then the members of the Tea Party movement have a rendevous with reality in Novemeber that will leave then feeling jilted with regard to having a true candidate in the race and, if a Republican wins the presidency, with having that old sinking feeling of having been used for their votes with little propsect of seeing their agenda advanced by the professional politicians who run the Republican Party.

Steven J. Gulitti

1/20/2012

 Sources:

Perry suspends campaign, endorses Gingrich; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mdvje9Fr-uY

What doomed Rick Perry’s campaign; http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/politics/perry-rise-fall/index.html

Where are the Republican populists; http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/romneys-rise-puts-the-lie-to-a-populist-gop/2012/01/18/gIQAoPqG9P_story.html

Tea Party’s opposition to Romney weakens; http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2012/01/19/opposition-from-tea-party-begins-fade-mitt-romney-gains-support-more-conservatives/JrU4fS9Gy5BF44dEfEkQoM/story.html

GOP Race Remains Fractured, Tea Party Supporters Divided: http://www.decodedscience.com/gop-race-remains-fractured-tea-party-supporters-divided/9673

Gingrich Has Record Of Clashing With The Right; http://www.npr.org/2011/11/29/142868567/gingrich-has-record-of-clashing-with-the-right

Newt Gingrich wanted ‘open marriage,’ ex-wife says; http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/politics/gingrich-wife/index.html

Paul’s candidacy thrives on the unconventional; http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Paul+candidacy+thrives+unconventional/5776016/story.html

Can Rick Santorum claim the Tea Party mantle?; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57354522-503544/can-rick-santorum-claim-the-tea-party-mantle/

Santorum Rose Quickly From Reformer to Insider; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/us/politics/santorum-rose-quickly-from-reformer-to-insider.html?_r=1&hp

Workers of the World, Unite! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/opinion/workers-of-the-world-unite.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

What a Big Government Conservative Looks Like; http://www.redstate.com/erick/2012/01/09/what-a-big-government-conservative-looks-like-2/

Rick Santorum and the Tea Party; http://thepoliticalzealot.com/2012/01/09/rick-santorum-and-the-tea-party/

The Unintended Consequences of Citizens United?

1:09 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Quoting Arianna Huffington:”Though the country is sorely in need of solutions, and the public hungry for real debate, that’s not what was served up in Iowa [or in New Hampshire] – either by the candidates or the vast pack of media covering their every word. What we got instead was a deluge of attack ads, largely financed by the super PACs allowed by the Citizens United decision. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 264 super PACs have been spawned for the 2012 race and they’ve already spent almost half of the $32 million they’ve raised. Perhaps this disconnect between what people are really concerned about and what the candidates are talking about is why only 17 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going” Campaign 2012: The Disconnect Widens; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/new-hampshire-2012_b_1196161.html

So this brings up the question of what may be one of the great unintended developments resulting from Citizens United: Has its effect spawned an avalanche of intraparty attacks within the conservative movement that may cripple if not badly hamper the prospects of many of the remaining 2012 contenders? We saw Gingrich upended in Iowa and the same thing is already happening to Santorum. Now when Citizens was decided there was much jubilation on the right and dismay on the left as it open the doors for folks like the Koch Brothers to spend as much as they wanted to influence elections. And yes, the same is true for labor unions, Hollywood stars and George Soros.
 
But look at what is happening within the G.O.P. thus far. The unlimited amounts of money flowing into the primary process is creating unlimited opportunities for the well financed candidates, particularly Romney, to bury their competition alive in negative attack ads thereby closing out alternative conservative positions and leaving the radicalized Republican base with several inconvenient choices. The far right may very well be faced with voting for a Republican moderate, staying home which may result in the reelection of Barack Obama or voting for a third party splinter candidate which would amount to a vote thrown away. Then there’s also that ineffective procedure of the write in vote which serves as nothing more than a symbolic protest as the voter can say he performed his civic duty without having to take any responsibility for who is actually elected as it probably would never be his guy.
 
Now since Mitt Romney is a moderate and progressive Republican who has the most to spend and has thus far effectively done so, the unintended consequences of Citizens has, to date, been to short circuit those Republicans to the right of Romney. So that begs the question, if Romney has most of the money to spend on attack ads and the more conservative contenders are woefully underfunded, will Citizens United work to the detriment of the radical right and ensure that we have an election between two progressives, one a Democrat, the other a Republican? Moreover what does it say about the much feared influence of the likes of the Koch Brothers and other wealthy conservatives if their money flows to moderate and progressive Republicans thereby starving the radically right-wing contenders of needed funding? Could it be that America’s wealthy elite knows that some degree of progressive measures are required and desirable in a modern democracy and that the agenda of the radical right is just to extreme to be workable? Is this an indication that these same conservatives were happy to have the support of the radical right as a brake on Barack Obama’s thrust to the left but now that his momentum has slowed, they’ve largely shunted the right-wing radicals to the political periphery? While this may not seem all that evident now, the far right will have a hard time competing if it can’t keep up with the money flowing into the Romney camp or the Obama reelection campaign either, for that matter.
 
While a Romney victory in November wouldn’t be exactly what the Democratic base wanted, the precluding of a Tea Party backed presidential victory by the election of Mitt Romney would surely be a consolation prize for the defeated Democrats. If that’s the case then Citizens United will have harmed the radical right far more than it harmed any other element within the American political system. I Think it goes without saying that few if any on the left or the right ever saw this as the likely outcome of the Citizens United decision.
 
 
Steven J. Gulitti
1/17/12

For the Radical Right, a Defeat in New Hampshire

10:46 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Tonight’s outcome in New Hampshire represents a significant setback for the fortunes of the Tea Party movement along with the rest of the radical right as Republican moderates have captured the bulk of the votes cast in the contest. When you combine Romney’s take with that of Gingrich and Huntsman what you see is that collectively Republican moderates received a total of 65.6% of the total vote count. Conversely those candidates who are popular with the radical right were only able to secure 39.3% of the votes cast. That means that two thirds of the voters voted for a candidate that’s not likely to do anything for a radical conservative agenda or its supporters other than use them for their vote and thereafter bid them farewell a la Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). See the graph from Associated Press below.
 
While nothing is ever cast in stone in the world of American politics, no candidate in modern times who ever won both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary failed to win his party’s nomination. Suffice it to say that the leadership of the Republican establishment can only be much relieved by these results as it suggests that voters may be moving back to the center after having flirted with the Tea Party and the radical right. That Tea Party affinity may have produced dramatic electoral gains in 2010 but it has also created gridlock in Washington, a tarnished image of the Republican Party and electoral defeats in 2011. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Republican establishment, which is well aware of the Congressional G.O.P’s low standing in the eyes of the public, attributes much of that low standing to the impact of the Tea Party caucus on Capitol Hill. Now with Mitt Romney’s fortunes apparently on the rise the Republican leadership can only hope that he can power past right-wing radicals in most of the remaining primaries thereby rendering any prospect of a Tea Party backed candidate moot. With that development the Republican Party can plan a campaign to defeat Barack Obama in November that would have been otherwise futile had a Tea Party backed candidate been the front runner.
 
In a prescient article that appeared before the 2011 elections, Matt Bai interviewed uber-Conservative William Kristol who said a “large number of Republican primary voters, and even more independent general-election voters, will be wary of supporting a Republican candidate in 2012 if the party looks as if it’s in the grip of an infantile form of conservatism.” Bai himself noted the following: “Given such fast-deteriorating conditions, [in the economy] many Republican veterans have come around to the view that they aren’t really going to need the perfect presidential candidate, and perhaps not even a notably good one. With Chris Christie having taken himself out of the running — again — earlier this month, the field of candidates now appears to be pretty much set, and none of them are likely to inspire any reimagining’s of Mount Rushmore. But maybe all the moment requires is someone who can pass as a broadly acceptable alternative — a candidate who doesn’t project the Tea Party extremism of Michele Bachmann or the radical isolationism of Ron Paul. “If we have a Rick Perry versus Mitt Romney battle for the nomination, it’s a little hard to say, ‘Ooh, the party has really gone off the rails,’ ” Kristol told me just after Perry entered the race, a development that essentially ended Bachmann’s brief ascent. Establishment Republicans may prefer Romney to Perry, but their assumption is that either man can be counted on to steer the party back toward the broad center next fall, effectively disarming the Tea Party mutiny.” Well it goes without saying that tonight’s results bring the Republican Party a step closer to the establishment’s goal of a party that appeals to the broad middle of the American electorate, particularly the non aligned independents, while at the same time adding increased downward momentum to the faltering Tea Party movement. Thus it would appear that tonight’s real winners are the old line establishment Republicans and the real losers are the Tea Party crowd, the Ron Paul libertarians and the rest of the radical right.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
1/10/12
 
 
 
Results for New Hampshire Republican Primary (U.S. Presidential Primary)
Jan 10, 2012 (92% of precincts reporting)
Mitt Romney 90,918   39.3%
Ron Paul 52,842  22.9%
Jon Huntsman 38,963  16.9%
Newt Gingrich 21,742     9.4%
Rick Santorum 21,562 9.3%
Rick Perry
1,612
0.7%
Michele Bachmann
 325
0.1%
Other
3,104
1.3%
 
Sources:

A Ceiling, a Crackup and the End of a Dream?

2:12 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

It’s an interesting fact that Mitt Romney, after outspending both Ron Paul and Rick Santorum and the rest of the Republican field by millions of dollars, can’t seem to break out above a ceiling of around a quarter of the conservative base. Pollster John Zogby and others have made this point in the immediate aftermath of the Iowa Caucuses: “This was the percentage of the vote the former governor received in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, a figure he never superseded in pre-caucus polls nor in the actual vote in 2012. It was enough for a close race but it shows some weaknesses in his bid for the White House. For starters, there are currently three co-equal strains in this year’s GOP — the libertarian/anti-statist wing represented by Ron Paul; the Christian Conservative wing that now belongs to Rick Santorum; and the Establishment/moderate conservative wing that favors Romney. Paul’s base is comprised of many young and first-time voters and doesn’t seem likely to support Romney (or perhaps any other Republican). The pro-family Santorumites just don’t like or trust Romney.” So after having run in Iowa during the last presidential election cycle and having had another three years to prepare for 2012, after spending millions more than his rivals and being backed up by a powerful Super Pac, Romney is back were he was after Iowa’s 2008 Caucuses. So what does that mean for Romney going forward? Well according to Zogby: ” after Iowa, an angry and scorned Newt Gingrich is aiming his guns at the whites of Romney’s eyes in South Carolina. Romney could possibly survive the January 21 southern state primary, but it is hard to see how he puts together a severely fractured party. He had a good showing in Iowa, but he ended up having to spend a lot of money, energy, and negative advertising to get to 25%.”
 
And then there’s, among numerous other articles on the topic, this from Rolling Stone: “Call it The Romney Ceiling. And its durability nearly led to an astonishing victory in Iowa by the raging mysogynist, racist, Islamophobe, and gay baiter Santorum — who was last seen on the national stage getting trounced by 18 points in his failed 2006 senate reelection bid in Pennsylvania. Rick Santorum is the bottom of the GOP’s not-Mitt barrel — a C-Lister par excellence. Yet he lost to one of the best funded candidates in the history of politics by a mere eight votes…By all rights, Mitt Romney should be on a glide path to the nomination today. But at this moment, his candidacy seems equally likely to spark a fratricidal war inside the GOP — one that could even spill over into a third-party bid. They say that Democrats fall in love with their candidates, while Republicans fall in line. That narrative is busted in 2012.”
 
What then is the follow on to all of the aforementioned? Lets consider the following: Romney is a Republican progressive by any objective yardstick and the Ron Paul crowd will most likely never support him. Santorum’s supporters are very pro-family and not likely to support Ron Paul’s libertarian views on gays and drugs. Santorum has plenty of his own baggage that has as of yet not been subject to scrutiny by either the liberal media or his political rivals. That scrutiny may do to Santorum what the same scrutiny did to Newt Gingrich just a week or so ago. Mitt Romney has plenty of Super Pac cash to smother Santorum in negative ads going forward just as he did Gingrich in Iowa. Few in the Republican establishment, especially the NeoCons, are likely to buy into Ron Paul’s isolationist or anti-Israel positions. What we may have here is an intra-party crack up in the making with one of two likely outcomes, both of which could herald the end of the much hoped for and stalled conservative revolution.

 
In one scenario the conservative base finally and remorsefully settles on Romney because after all, their only real rallying point is an obsessive hate of Barack Obama and a desire to see him defeated. Alternatively the radical right in the G.O.P. could split off into a third party being unable to abide the prospect of a Romney presidency. Thus we are back to the same place I spoke of in an earlier piece,”Will Iowa’s Conservatives Outsmart Themselves?, one in which conservatives in their pursuit of ideological purity ensure the election of a progressive in 2012, unless of course they compromise their principles and reluctantly support Mitt Romney. That latter development will only amount to a forfeiting of their goal of radically restructuring American government and society. They will be faced with having to ”settle” for Romney or they will gamble on a third party bid which should effectively split the conservative vote thereby giving Barack Obama a plurality and with it a victory and a second term. In either case there is a better than even chance that America will wake up the morning of November 7 with a progressive president from one party or the other and the radical right will wake up to the fact that the ball game is over as even a progressive Republican president won’t be there to further their agenda. If that is the end result, America’s radical conservatives will have suffered a significant defeat that will take a generation or more to recover from, if they can effectively recover from it at all.
 
S.J. Gulitti
1/5/12

Will Iowa’s Conservatives Outsmart Themselves?

9:44 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

As we head into the Iowa Caucuses a burning question remains just below the surface, one which won’t be clear until the final tallies are completed. That question is: Will Iowa’s conservatives outsmart themselves in their pursuit of ideological purity and in the process, ensure the election of a progressive in 2012? According to the Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich ”Iowa’s social conservatives are not unified on a candidate.” With Mitt Romney leading in the latest polls and with Iowa’s conservatives unable to settle on one conservative standard bearer there is a very real possibility that their prolonged political indecision could make Romney the winner in the Hawkeye State with less far less than half of the vote. According to the analysis of Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny “After months of campaigning, a long series of debates and the rise and fall of one challenger after another, no one has yet shown that they can knock off Mr. Romney…Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said the competing messages in the campaign had left fiscal and social conservatives “terribly split here.” Most campaigns were in agreement that a win by Mr. Romney would put him in an enviable position to capture his party’s nomination.” While some conservatives might take heart with Rick Santorum’s new found surge, it appears that Santorum is taking support away from Ron Paul rather than from Mitt Romney so the calculus of the caucuses may remain unchanged. Moreover, with Romney leading in New Hampshire as well, these two early victories could set in train a momentum that will carry him all the way to the nomination this summer. Quoting Susan Page of USA Today: “No one has won Iowa and New Hampshire and lost the Republican nomination.”
 
While an eventual Romney victory over Barack Obama might satisfy the radical rights burning desire to make Obama a one term president, it would do little if anything to get the faltering radical right wing revolution going again. That’s because Mitt Romney is in the eyes of the far right nothing more than a Republican progressive and by no means a likely agent to do anything for the far right other than to thank them for their votes on election night. It should be lost on no one that Romney already has a template for dealing with the radical right. That template would be the successful campaign of Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts who gladly took the votes of the state’s Tea Party crowd and then quietly but steadily distanced himself from the radical right. Political analyst John Harwood pointed out that Mitt Romney has made many of the right rhetorical noises when it comes to addressing the far right, but that he has left a path back to the center where he will need to be if he hopes to win in November. Speaking of both Romney and Gingrich, Harwood said: “Yet those two leading Republican contenders have not leaned as far right on policy as their rhetoric might suggest. On core issues concerning the relationship between government and average Americans — taxes, Medicare, Social Security, even immigration — each has preserved routes back toward the political middle for the general election. “Both of them could tack center-right” said former Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, a Republican. And given that roughly half the country receives some sort of government benefit or subsidy, they would need to in order to assemble a coalition to defeat Mr. Obama. “You can demagogue it all you want on the right — Ron Paul, ‘cut it all,’ ” said Mr. Keating, “But that’s not where the public is.” Thus the stances of Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Romney suggest they might not uproot existing arrangements between government and American society as much as Tea Party activists hope — and liberal Democrats fear.” With regard to where Mitt Romney sits on America’s ideological spectrum, based on a recent Gallup Poll, less than half of the respondents see him as conservative or very conservative: “A USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans to rate their own ideology — and the ideology of the eight major presidential candidates — on a 5-point scale with 1 being very liberal and 5 being very conservative. Americans’ mean score on this scale is 3.3, meaning the average American is slightly to the right of center ideologically.” Mitt Romney scores a 3.5, not exactly the 5 that indicates “very conservative.”
 
Another factor working in Romney’s favor is that while many on the far right may not embrace him fully, many of those same voters will “hold their nose” and vote for him anyway as they see him as the only Republican contender who has any real chance of defeating Obama. According to Iowa pollster Ann Selzer, Iowa voters are torn between who can send a message and who can win and she said that this is one reason that heading into the caucuses 41 percent of the likely attendees have yet to make up their minds. So if many of Iowa’s social and fiscal conservatives are to “hold their noses” and vote for Romney that would amount to a Pyrrhic victory for the far right if Romney were to win in November. They would have ousted Barack Obama and replaced a liberal progressive with a Northeastern Republican progressive, one who is unlikely to cater to the radical right or champion its agenda. Again to the analysis of Rutenberg and Zeleny: “But other Republicans said that even though they liked Mr. Santorum best and had problems with Mr. Romney’s past positions on abortion, immigration and gun rights, they were supporting Mr. Romney because they viewed him as a stronger challenger to Mr. Obama. When you add to this indecision and ideological confusion the fact that crowd sizes are smaller and enthusiasm levels are lower than they were in 2008 it may be that many of Iowa’s conservatives have already given up on nominating a true right-wing conservative in 2012. If that’s the case they may not bother to caucus at all or if they do they may nominate Mitt Romney anyway. Quoting Republican Steve King: “There was more energy four years ago for Huckabee — and even with the last Romney campaign.” Ironically in the end Iowa’s staunch social and evangelical conservatives may, as a result of their pursuit of ideological purity or out of their desperation to see Obama defeated, ensure the election of a Republican progressive who will do little if anything to further their agenda. When all is said and done, they may become the unwitting agents in their own political suicide, thereby scuttling their own agenda in the process.
 
Steven J. Gulitti

 
In Iowa, a Time to Vote, and, for Many, to Settle; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/us/politics/iowa-caucus-voters-lack-enthusiasm.html

 

Is Iowa’s Political Influence on the Wane?

8:55 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

A few recent articles on the subject of the Iowa caucuses, citing the influence of evangelical Christians in the process, suggest that the traditional Iowa caucuses may be losing much of their influence in the presidential selection process. Moreover, their fundamental role may be changing in another important way as well. Quoting Michael Shear of the New York Times: “But there are signs that its influence on the nominating process could be ebbing and that the nature of the voters who tend to turn out for the Republican caucuses — a heavy concentration of evangelical Christians and ideological conservatives overlaid with parochial interests — is discouraging some candidates from competing there… Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, announced Thursday that he would skip the state’s Republican straw poll this summer, saving his resources — and lowering expectations — for the state’s caucuses next year. Earlier in the week, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former governor of Utah, conceded that he was likely to skip the Iowa caucuses altogether, noting that his opposition to ethanol subsidies makes him unpopular in a state where support for the corn-based fuel is all but demanded… In addition to his stand on ethanol, Mr. Huntsman, who served in the Obama administration as ambassador to China, says he believes in global warming and has not embraced the Tea Party movement like some of his rivals. And like Mr. Romney, Mr. Huntsman is a Mormon, a religion viewed with wariness by some conservative Christians. At the same time, the implosion of Newt Gingrich‘s campaign this week, with the resignation of his entire Iowa staff, could take Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, out of real contention in the state’s contest.”

Thus the question that arises is to what extent is the penchant for socially conservative issues among the Iowa caucus crowd at variance with the more pressing issues of the economy and fiscal rectitude which have now come to dominate the national discussion? That’s not to say that social issues have faded completely from the political scene, it’s just an acknowledgement that presently they have been relegated to the back burner. An analysis of polling results over the past year on what constitutes the primary concerns of the American people reveals scant evidence that social and moral issues bulk large in the minds of the electorate. None the less, the fixation among Iowa caucus goers with issues of a socially conservative nature appears to have had a net negative effect on the importance of the traditional Iowa caucus process. Doug Gross, a Republican activist and former nominee for governor bemoaned this very development back in March: “We look like Camp Christian out here. If Iowa becomes some extraneous right-wing outpost, you have to question whether it is going to be a good place to vet your presidential candidates.” What also has many Republicans worried is that the controversy arising between fiscal and social conservatives may serve to do nothing more than muddle the G.O.P.’s message as it seeks to defeat Barack Obama.

There is however, an interesting side effect from the potential demise of the Iowa caucuses among conservative front runners and that is that it allows second tier socially conservative candidates like Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann to gain a little breathing room and possibly some much needed momentum in propelling their candidacies forward. However, that windfall of newfound or added momentum will probably only last so long due to the fact that social issues are currently out of vogue having been swamped by issues of economy and fiscal responsibility. Thus the unique nature of Iowa’s socially conservative evangelical Christians within the larger national electorate may have had the net effect of altering the very role that the Iowa caucuses play in the politics of presidential elections.

S.J. Gulitti
6/11/11

Sources:

With Abstentions, Iowa Questions Political Role

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/11/us/politics/11repubs.html?emc=eta1

Iowa May Turn G.O.P.’s Focus to Social Issues

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/us/politics/27iowa.html?_r=1

PollingReport.com: Problems and Priorities

http://www.pollingreport.com/prioriti.htm