Why I’m Glad The Republicans Of The Family Aren’t Around To See This

I’m glad the long-time Republicans in my family aren’t around to witness the 2016 campaign.

Don’t get me wrong:  I wish they were still among the living.  But, with every new slide into cheap slurs and sophomoric behavior, I can’t help but shake my head at how those lifelong Rs would react to what we are seeing.

trump-lead_3512719bTake Grandpa Neal.  He first voted for President in 1920, for Warren G. Harding, and I’m confident he voted Republican in every presidential election for the next 76 years, making his last vote for Bob Dole in 1996.  After the 1968 election, he proudly displayed a plaque he received for his contribution to the Nixon campaign on his bookshelf.  He was a banker who voted Republican because he thought it was the party of fiscal responsibility, growth, and individual initiative, the party of prudent foreign and domestic policy that didn’t go in for the flash and dash of the Ds.  The Republican Party and its sober image fit him to a T. He was a modest paragon of propriety, always carefully dressed and primly mannered, with no flashes of crude humor.  He and Grandma Neal slept in separate twin beds.

Grandma Webner also tended to pull the lever for the Republicans.  She despised the Kennedys for the ostentatious displays of wealth and power that she thought let them get away with murder, and she was appalled by the scandalous behavior of some Democratic politicians.  She thought the Republicans were the more respectable party.

So how in the world would Grandpa Neal and Grandma Webner react to a Republican contest that has seen the leading candidate make a not-so-oblique reference to his sexual capabilities during a televised debate?  Could they rationalize a campaign in which the appearances of candidates’ wives become an issue and where trading crass insults seems to have replaced knowledgeable discussion of policy?  How would they respond to a candidate who routinely brags about how much money he’s made, who was a reality TV star, and has encouraged thuggish behavior by his followers?

I suspect that they would say that this is not their Republican Party anymore.

The Trump supporters say that he is giving the staid and stodgy Republican Party a much-needed shake-up and bringing new voters into the GOP fold.  Maybe that’s true — but maybe the Republican Party is just losing its way.  If Donald Trump is the nominee, what does the Republican Party stand for, really?  

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Ohio’s Vagabond Presidential Primary

Yesterday as I was walking to work I noticed some colorful chalk printing on the sidewalk.  At the corner of Broad and Third, just across from the Ohio Statehouse in the center of downtown Columbus, someone had written: “Bernie not Hillary March 15th.”

IMG_6410This little bit of street art politics was the first sign of a 2016 campaign I’ve seen in Ohio, from either party — and coming from the cash-strapped, guerilla-level Bernie Sanders campaign you’d expect it to be something like a chalk message — but it gave me a moment’s pause.  March 15?

Turns out that March 15 is the new date of the Ohio presidential primary.  Those of us who are old enough remember when Ohio used to be at the end of the primary cycle, part of an old “Super Tuesday” group of big-state primaries designed to tip the balance in favor of one candidate or another.  But then people realized that candidates never made it to the end because they ran out of money, and the early primaries were the decisive ones that drew the media money and the tax-paying, hotel room-using campaigns.  Since then, Ohio’s primary has become a vagabond, moving around the calendar, trying to find a meaningful role.

Ohio’s primary was last held in June in 1992.  In 1996 the Ohio primary was in the middle of March, then for the last few presidential election cycles, it has been held in the first week of March, as part of a new Super Tuesday grouping.  This year, the primary has been moved back a week — apparently because the national parties have tinkered with their allocation of delegate rules to discourage states from front-loading the process — and some argued that the primary should have been moved even farther back, to May.

By the time I walked home last night a summer rainstorm had washed away the chalk message from the Sanders supporter — and Ohio’s current primary date may prove to be about as temporary, as the Ohio party pols try to thread the needle between maximizing their delegate allocation and attempting to ensure that a big, diverse state like Ohio has some more significant role in the candidate selection process.  In 2016, they hope that magic date is March 15.  In 2020, who knows?

Because It’s All About Him

Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s bizarre comments about rape a few days ago showed him to be ignorant.  His refusal to withdraw from the race despite being urged to do so by virtually every fellow Republican, from presidential candidate Mitt Romney on down, shows him to be an egotistical fool — in short, a hack politician.

Akin not only isn’t withdrawing, his campaign website seeks to raise $24,000 in 24 hours to “help Todd fight back against the party bosses.”   Huh?  This guy thinks he’s being unfairly railroaded by GOP leaders, as opposed to being asked to do the honorable thing and quit, so that the Missouri Senate campaign, or even the national campaign, won’t be sidetracked by continuing discussion of his idiotic comments?  (And who would possibly make a contribution in response to such an absurd appeal?)

Akin’s antics just reaffirm why so many of us instinctively despise and distrust career politicians.  We know that they will say and do just about anything to get elected, and the normal human reactions that spur many of our actions — reactions like shame, and embarrassment, for making absurd statements — don’t seem to affect them.  Like so many other politicians of both parties, Akin professes to stand for certain positions on the issues and depicts himself as a selfless public servant who just wanted to represent the people — but when those politicians say (or do) something so stupid that the only decent response is to withdraw or resign, the facade of public service is ripped away and the ugly, overwhelming narcissism and selfishness is exposed for all to see.

Todd Akin obviously could care less about his party, his positions on the issues, or his ability to be an effective legislator.  Instead, he cares only about himself.  If he doesn’t recognize reality and quit, I hope Missouri voters give him an historic drubbing come November.

Wimping Out In Florida

The big news out of Florida is that Mitt Romney soundly defeated Newt Gingrich in a contest that, by all accounts, featured lots of “negative advertising.”  I think the more interesting story, however, has to do with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.

Santorum and Paul got clobbered in Florida.  Santorum ended up with 13 percent of the vote, and Paul got 7 percent.  However, they both have a “talking point” at the ready — they explain that they simply chose not to compete.  They’ve decided that they have better prospects in “caucus” states like Nevada that are coming up on the schedule.

It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry, after winning a footrace by a fluke as a kid, avoids later contests by declaring “I choose not to run.”  It’s as if an NFL team like the Cleveland Browns looked at the schedule in advance and decided they won’t show up for that ball-busting away game at New England.

Santorum and Paul likely don’t have a chance to win; this strategy allows them to hold on to their money, play out the string, and get a few more moments on a stage before an adoring crowd.  But doesn’t it say something about how ridiculous our presidential selection process has become that purportedly viable candidates can pick and choose where they fight and simply skip contested elections in large states like Florida that will be crucial in a general election?  Given the experience in Iowa — where some caucus “results” were lost and Republican Party officials couldn’t even say for sure who won — why are caucuses even used to allocate delegates rather than a primary election?

The presidential delegate selection seems to get tweaked after every election.  How about a rule that says declared candidates have to actually compete in every contest where voters will go into a voting booth and pull the lever for the candidate?

A Candidate for Everyone ?

I just finished reading a book written by Hugh Hewitt who is a talk show host on the East Coast and he makes a compelling case as to why Mitt Romney would make an excellent president. The reason I decided to read the book is because I have had friends on both sides of the political spectrum that say they would consider voting for him if he becomes the Republican nominee.

Romney’s business qualifications are impressive especially the work he did while employed at Bain and Company and the amazing work he did building a consensus and basically saving the Salt Lake City Olympics. In fact Hewitt asks Romney if the Bain Way (assembling all diverse view points, pouring over massive amounts of data and sustained argument and counter argument) could be applied to our bloated Federal Government. Mitt’s answer was yes, but said there has to be a common interest in achieving success and it will not work against mindless obstructionism.

So based on business success one would expect Romney to be higher in the polls then he currently is, but the problem as the book points out and makes an effort to refute lies in his stance on cultural issues which are dear to the hearts of most Republicans. If Romney becomes the nominee of the Republican party the You Tube video below will most likely be played over and over again prior to November 2012.

I found this book interesting and definitely worth reading and I would very much consider voting for Romney if he becomes the nominee, the only problem is which Romney will I get on the social issues if I do vote for him ? A portion of the book does dig into his Mormon faith which I found quite hard to grasp, however Mitt’s religious beliefs would not keep me from voting for him if I decide not to vote for the president.