Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Three-Way Fight Among Republicans

I am starting the year with a week of Big Picture posts.

Republicans normally nominate the person whose turn it is to run for president.  They typically pick a candidate who did respectably in their previous primary.  By that logic, it is Mitt Romney's turn.

Some newcomers also run in order to get in line for a future race, or at least to position themselves for a post in the next Republican administration.  I believe Jon Huntsman, my favorite of the Republican candidates this year, ran for this reason.

When I look at the rest of this year's Republican field, I see two things.

First, I think all the other establishment politicians in the party believe that Barack Obama will be re-elected.  Therefore, they decided to sit this one out.

Second, the Tea Party is a wild card. This movement is as much against the Republican establishment as it is against the Democrats. None of those who are running are exactly Tea Partiers.  Tea Partiers are mostly very conservative white Christians, drawn heavily from the petite bourgeoisie, who are the bedrock of any Republican coalition. I think Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann come closest. They are drawn to libertarianism, so they think well of Ron Paul.  But mostly they are not really against government, as true libertarians are.  Rather, Tea Partiers are against government spending money on people they regard as undeserving. All the Not-Romney candidates have been trying to mobilize the Tea Party, but none have a lock.

Herman Cain got into the race, I believe, to raise his speaking fees.  That is his main source of income.  Ironically, if he had not become the front-runner, this strategy might have worked.  Too much exposure, though, destroyed his credibility (if not his marriage).

Newt Gingrich, I think, never expected to be the nominee.  He does, though, wish he still mattered politically, so he ran to raise his profile. He may even get his wish.  I think, though, he has also raised his negatives, reminding a new generation of Republicans why the previous generation of Republican leaders pushed him out of leadership.

Rick Santorum is, I believe, actually the strongest social conservative in the race - which is saying quite a bit. He is a very traditional Catholic - not an evangelical Protestant.  One consequence of this fact, not usually appreciated by secular political commentators, is that traditional Catholics are not beholden to free-market capitalism, large corporations, or big banks.  This is also why Santorum is not the candidate of the Republican establishment.

As I write this, the Iowa caucuses are unfolding. Romney, Santorum, and Paul are leading.  I think the Republican race will continue with these three, or people representing the three Republican camps.

The Tea Party and the social conservatives will try to fend off the gravitational pull of the establishment candidate.

I expect that Romney, the establishment candidate, the my-turn candidate, will be the eventual nominee.


Percy M. said...

Nice collection left wing cliches. Romney is Obama's most formidable challenger.

gruntled said...

Yes, Romney is Obama's most formidable challenger. He has some formidable challenges within the Republican coalition, as well. So far he has not been able mobilize the enthusiasm of more than a quarter of his own party.

Which of the "left-wing cliches" do you think are not true, and why?

Anonymous said...

Who do you think well be the V.P. nominee? How about Perry, for a mutant replay of JFK/LBJ? I'd like to see a Romney/Santorum ticket, myself.

Percy M. said...

Points one and two are cliches because they are trite and over used. They are opinions stated by people who oppose the right and not usually by people who consider themselves centrists. Ditto for your opinion on Cain.

Brendan said...

I'm just really looking forward to seeing the Evangelical wing of the GOP try to choose between a Mormon and a Catholic.

Anonymous said...

As an Evangelical either will do. The prize is the defeat of Obama for the good of our country.

The Errant Viewer said...

On Santorum as a traditional Catholic, I would disagree and propose he's a conservative traditional Catholic. After all, his stance on capital punishment, the environment, and other issues differs from official Church teaching. I wonder if he's read the great social encyclicals of the late 19th and 20th centuries; if he has, why doesn't he incorporate them into his political stances. A traditional Catholic, I think, would adhere more to the magisterium.

I get what you mean, though. In social issues, he's very conservative. He's just not very Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Many Catholics and non or anti Catholics misunderstand the view of the magisterium on capital punishment, war, any many other areas.

Paulene said...

Hey Brendan a Mormon just won against a Catholic in evangelical Iowa. So I guess they have already chosen...

Anonymous said...

I think your analysis is generally on here, although I do think that Gingrich (and even Cain) got into the race because they thought they had a shot (albeit a long-one) of winning.

Gingrich in particular (even in his concession speech last night) talks like a person who expects to be carefully considered for the big chair.

As for Cain, when he was riding high I heard many, many people talking about how much they loved his business experience and that he was "not a politician." There was a lot of genuine excitement about him. If I (who never thought Cain had any business being seriously considered) heard it that much--think about how much people around him must have been saying it.

If we hear consistently enough how awesome we are--we start to believe it.

gruntled said...

Percy: Trite and over-used are not the same as untrue. What is your counter-argument?

Percy said...

You offered opinions which are cliches of the left Gruntled, not arguments.