Jan 27, 2012

Santorum is Finished as a 2012 Presidential Candidate

I watched the Republican presidential debate of January 26, 2012 (once it was posted on YouTube) last night and while I have seen the same things that many of my fellow political opinion commentators, both famous and unknown, have seen, one thing stood out to me, and it was a point I think many may have missed. Rick Santorum just lost himself the Republican presidential primary race. Hands down, he lost it. Albeit he lost it in less spectacular fashion then Rick Perry did in his 53 second gaffe in a debate back on November 9, 2011, but he still lost it.

What am I talking about? Just re-watch the debate. Did Santorum deliver some strong blows against Romney and Gingrich last night? Yes he did. Did he have some spectacular lines in the debate? Yes he did. So what I am talking about? Just re-watch the debate when it came to one of the first foreign policy questions, then follow my train of thought here.

In response to a question from the audience asking what the United States’ role in assisting Latin America should be, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, whose positions on foreign policy have been regarded as controversial since he first started campaigning for President in 2007, made the first response by defining his foreign policy. He defined it as one of diplomacy, free trade and encouragement to all nations and also setting an example of freedom for other nations to freely follow rather than using force to get them to adopt our standards. Fair enough. One does not have to agree with this foreign policy if they do not want to. That is not the point of this piece. The point is Santorum’s response following Paul’s answer.

Santorum, plain and simple, lost his temper on the stage. It was shocking, and the venom of his tone, with which he tainted his answer, should have been shocking for all observing the debate. While he may have had the right to be angry, it is ALWAYS a very bad idea to lose one’s temper on the stage and yet he did. In one minute and forty-four seconds Santorum completely unraveled and launched into a long tirade against the Obama administration which, even though all of his complaints and laments were valid objections and concerns, was not a constructive answer of what he would do instead. What few bits of the tirade which sounded even close to constructive suggestions were very vague and in the end all Santorum really promised to do was visit Central and South America. In short, Santorum’s answer was just an angry unconstructive tirade and, as a result, a huge mistake.

However, instead of stopping there, Santorum exacerbated his mistake just seconds later. The debate moderator, Mr. Wolf Blitzer, allowed Congressman Paul to respond to Santorum’s tirade. Paul attempted to clarify where he stood in contrast to Santorum based on previous statements from Santorum in the past several months. As Paul finished speaking, Santorum suddenly responded with an answer which made him look like a complete fool: “I don't know what answer Congressman Paul was listening to. He obviously wasn't listening to my answer." It was an answer so ridiculous that many in the audience laughed at Santorum's obvious blunder. Here Paul had just given an answer of constructive proposals in response to Santorum's tirade, which had contained no constructive proposals, and Santorum said Paul was not listening to him. It was a ridiculous and huge blunder and from the pained look on Santorum's face as he said it, it looked as if he knew he was committing a blunder but could not admit it.

Finally, to wrap it up, Santorum put the icing on his mistake when he did seek to clarify what his foreign policy was. The whole answer was again very poor (Three-fourths of it was another tirade against the current administration with no details of what he would have done and would do instead) and the part of the answer where he sought to define his foreign policy consisted of vague references to building economic and national security relationships with no specific explanations of what he meant by these statements, how they would work and why they would succeed. Then he tried to distance himself from the stance of using military force that he had taken at previous debates and campaign stops. He then fell back into it by talking about 'supporting' nations which had not fallen under the sway of the Marxist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela which, based on previous statements Santorum had made linking 'support' to 'military force', would seem to imply that he supported military force to get these nations to do what the United States ordered them to. It was a classic example of disconcerted flip-flopping on the part of Mr. Santorum and a tragic finale to a huge mistake for his campaign.

To clarify, I am fully aware of what Mr. Santorum endorses for his foreign policy, and while I do not agree with his stances, I appreciated it in the debates earlier in 2011 when he gave clearer answers and examples of what he would do in the White House in regards to foreign policy. With this in mind, Mr. Santorum’s answers on these foreign policy questions last night added up to a tremendous blunder for him which, in my opinion, has sunk his campaign and finished his run as a serious contender in the Republican primaries. By this action, the 2012 Republican Presidential Primaries have now officially turned into a three man race between Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Below is the transcript of the question and the responses of Congressman Paul and former Senator Santorum:

(Begin Transcript)

RAQUEL RODRIGUEZ (Hispanic Republican attorney from Miami in the audience): The U.S. has been largely away in its foreign and trade policy with Latin America. In the meantime, Iran and China have been increasing their influence over an involvement in Latin America through the leftist and left-leaning governments.

What would each of you do as president to more deeply engage in Latin America and, importantly, to support the governments and the political parties that support democracy and free markets?


CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL: Well, I think free trade is the answer. Free trade is an answer to a lot of conflicts around the world, so I'm always promoting free trade. And you might add Cuba, too. I think we would be a lot better off with Cuba, trading with Cuba.

So, I think the more you can do to promote this free trade, the better off we'll be. But as far as us having an obligation, a military or a financial obligation to go down and dictate to them what government they should have, I don't like that idea.

I would work with the people and encourage free trade, and try to set a standard here where countries in Central America or South America or any place in the world would want to emulate us and set the standards that we have. Unfortunately, sometimes we slip up on our standards and we go around the world and we try to force ourselves on others.

I don't think the nations in South America and Central America necessarily want us to come down there and dictate which government they should have. And yet, I believe with friendship and trade, you can have a lot of influence, and I strongly believe that it's time we have friendship and trade with Cuba.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, are you with Congressman Paul?

FORMER SENATOR RICK SANTORUM: No, I'm not with Congressman Paul and I'm not with Barack Obama on this issue.

Our policy in Central and South America under this administration has been abysmal. The way we have treated, in particular, countries like Honduras, Honduras, which stood up for the rule of law, which threw out a would-be dictator who was using the Chavez playbook from Venezuela in order to try to run for re-election in Honduras, and the United States government, instead of standing behind the -- the people in the parliament, the people in the Supreme Court, who tried to enforce the constitution of Honduras -- instead of siding with them, the Democrats, President Obama sided with two other people in South America -- excuse me -- Central America and South America. Chavez and Castro and Obama sided against the people of Honduras.

This is a consistent policy of siding with the leftists, siding with the Marxists, siding with those who don't support democracy, not standing up for our friends in Colombia, not standing up for our friends who want to engage and support America, who want to be great trading partners and great allies for our country, to be able to form that kind of bond that is so essential in our own hemisphere.

The European Union understood how important it was for diverse people to be able to come together in an economic unit. We only -- not only have to come together as an economic unit, but the threat of terrorism, the threat of Iran now in Venezuela and in other places, and Cuba and in Nicaragua, the threat of radical Islam growing in that region -- is it important for -- it's absolutely important for us to have a president who understands that threat and understands the solution is closer ties. I will visit that area of the world, repeatedly, to solidify those ties when I become president.

BLITZER: Let me let Congressman Paul quickly respond.

PAUL: The -- the senator mentioned standing up for some of these nations, but he doesn't define it, but standing up for nations like this usually means that we impose ourselves, go and pick the dictators, undermine certain governments, also sending them a lot of money.

It doesn't work. Most of the time, this backfires. They resent us. We can achieve what he wants in a much different way than us using the bully attitude that ‘you will do it our way’.

This is not a benefit to us. And besides, where do you get the troops and where are you going to get the money? Because you're talking about force. And I know of a much better way than using force to get along with people.

SANTORUM: I don't know what answer Congressman Paul was listening to. He obviously wasn't listening to my answer.

What I talked about is building strong economic relationships, strong national security relationships. No one's talking about force. Nobody's talking about going into Cuba or going into Venezuela. It's talking about the other countries in the region, which are being influenced greatly by those countries, that are tending and moving toward those militant socialists, instead of the United States.

Why? Because we've ignored them. You've got a president of the United States that held a Colombian free trade agreement -- Colombia, who's out there on the front lines, working with us against the narco-terrorists, standing up to Chavez in South America. And what did we do?

For political -- domestic political purposes, the president of the United States sided with organized labor and the environmental groups and held Colombia hanging out to dry for three years. We cannot do that to our friends in South America.

(End of Transcript)

Those who wish to watch the video of this exchange, please the click the link in the last paragraph of the actual article.

© 2012 The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.

American Politics: Now a Three Party System… Soon to Become Four? A Truth Everyone Can See, But No One Recognizes.

As a student of American politics since the age of nine, I have often been fascinated with the phenomenon of political parties known as third, minor or ‘splinter’ parties as the cartoonist Walt Kelly so famously called them in his Pogo political cartoons. These minor parties have influenced many American presidential elections and have won a small amount of congressional and local elections, but have never been able to really break the monopoly of power held by the current two-major-parties system since the American War Between the States.

However, beginning in the late 1990s, signs have begun to emerge that this two-party power monopoly is beginning to crumble due to the realization on the part of the American people, that they can make a difference by becoming more involved in the system. This deterioration of the monopoly of power has led to the fracturing of one major political party and signs now exist that it will soon lead to the disintegration of the other.

The history of this phenomenon began back in 1976 with the challenge of former Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota to the political establishment represented by the two major parties. McCarthy ran an independent bid for the Presidency that year despite the laws regulating elections being decidedly unfriendly to minor party candidates. Due to these laws, McCarthy spent much of his time and campaign money in legal challenges to strike these laws down.

McCarthy did not have as big of an effect in the actual presidential election as he had hoped, but the real accomplishment of his campaign lay in winning his legal battle against the anti-minor-party laws in fifteen states. Thanks to McCarthy’s efforts, a friendlier climate for minor parties to run campaigns and spread their message was created and the opportunity now existed for real challenges to the two-party power monopoly to be launched.

It would not take long for others to take advantage of the new freedoms McCarthy had won for the minor parties. From 1976 to 2008 (with the exception of 1984), large anti-two-party-establishment presidential candidacies would be launched and would receive anywhere from half a million to as many as nineteen million votes in every presidential election during this period. Before this time, between 1865 and 1976 specifically, third parties’ influences on elections had usually lasted for an election or two but were prone to rise and then fade and so fail to make a sustained impact on the system. However, following 1976, third parties began to make a sustained impact and, with the exception of Reagan’s landslide in 1984, at least one minor party per presidential election would consistently poll around half a million votes at least. This consistent showing of strength by minor parties had never before been seen in American politics. What it signaled was that McCarthy’s rebellious spirit against the two-party-system had been instilled into the American people and this, coupled with public anger against government scandals such as Watergate, Billy Carter and Iran-Contra, led to public discontent with a simple choice between two parties more concerned with power then with statesmanship.

Where the biggest impact of the new-found election freedoms began to show, however, was in the more local elections. In 1990, third party candidates won two state governorships followed by two more in 1994 and 1998. As the 2000s began, two U.S. Senate seats were won by third party candidates. What made this unique was that many of these minor party candidates were regarded as, or ran ‘outside’ the political establishment and they came from many different political backgrounds. Despite this however, the two-party power monopoly in the nation was not seen as truly threatened yet. It would take a crisis of truly epic proportions to expose the ineffectiveness of the two-party system and provide an environment for the change of the current two-party-system to something radically different.

The crisis which would provide the environment for political system change turned out to be the American Great Recession which began in 2008. As the United States’ economy began to deteriorate in a rapid and disturbing fashion, the anger of the voters was turned against the major political party currently in power, namely the Republicans. This led to a substantial victory by the Democratic Party in the 2008 elections. However, instead of the situation improving, it became worse and America sank deeper in economic trouble.

When it became obvious to the people that the two major parties were not able to solve the distressing problems afflicting America many began to take action for themselves. The first actions were peaceful protests and political activism which would receive the name of the Tea Party Movement. As the protests were seen to not be enough to influence the politicians in Washington and the state capitols, the people began to take political action for themselves and with that move, the political structure of America began to change.

The 2010 elections were what blew open the two-party system. With the Tea Party movement looking to challenge the party currently in power, the Democrats, they put forward their own candidates to run in the Republican local primaries. Republicans who identified themselves with the establishment of power in Washington D.C., (whom we shall refer to as ‘Establishment Republicans’) soon were faced with ‘revolts’ in their local parties by the Tea Party activists which threatened their base of power. These ‘Tea Party Republican’ candidacies soon began to seriously threaten the power structure of the Republican Party and Establishment Republicans soon began to fight back to retain their power.

Tea Party Republicans did manage to win some nominations but the Establishment Republicans also retained some nominations for themselves as well. Unwilling to settle for only some of the nominations, and with so much seen to be at stake in the upcoming elections, both Establishment and Tea Party Republicans began to mount challenges outside the major party labels in the general election. Indeed, the number of serious third party/independent challenges to the candidates running under the major party labels was astounding. It set the stage for a very intense series of elections in 2010.

In Colorado, Rhode Island and Maine, Establishment Republicans mounted independent/third party challenges to Tea Party Republican nominees in the gubernatorial races. In Rhode Island the Independent/Establishment Republican was elected, in Colorado the Third Party/Establishment Republican cost the Tea Party Republican the race and in Maine the Independent/Establishment Republican’s effect was only off-set by the entry of a well-known independent liberal into the race which split the Democratic vote and off-set the effect of the Republican split.

On the other side, Tea Party Republicans also mounted challenges to Establishment Republican nominees in gubernatorial races like Idaho and Wyoming. With the Tea Party movement still in its beginning stages, however, the organization was not yet positioned to make as big of an impact as originally hoped and the Establishment Republican candidates easily won in both states. Though the results were not what they would have hoped for, the Tea Party Republicans’ potential for growth in future elections was easily obvious.

These election fireworks spread to several U.S. Senate races as well. Revolts in the form of third party/independent candidacies took place on both sides. Establishment Republicans mounted independent challenges to Tea Party Republican Senate nominees in Alaska and Florida and tried to mount one in Utah while Tea Party Republicans backed a Libertarian Party challenger to the Establishment Republican nominee in Indiana. In addition, seeking to discredit the Tea Party Republican nominees in certain states like Nevada and Delaware, where they lacked the ability to run independent general election challenges, several Establishment Republicans either endorsed the Democratic candidate or left the Tea Party Republican nominee unsupported.

The results would further show the division of the Republican Party. In Utah and Florida, the Tea Party Republicans would win the Senate seats, while in Alaska the Independent/Establishment Republican candidate won a bitterly contested election over the Tea Party Republican and in Nevada and Delaware the Establishment Republicans’ efforts to discredit the Tea Party Republicans would result in a narrow victory for the Democrats.

This saga took place in almost every political race in 2010, right down to the state legislatures with Establishment Republicans and Tea Party Republicans fighting primary races almost as bitterly contested as the general election races would be. The division was deep and coming after some decades of growing dissatisfaction with the Political Establishment in Washington D.C. and the state capitols, the breach between these two factions of the Republican Party can be said to be: irreparable.

2010 signaled the end of an era in American politics. The budding movement towards the break-down of the two-party-system has finally begun to blossom. The movement to break up the two-major-party system, which began to grow from 1976 onward, has finally begun to ripen.

So why did this break-down of the system happen and what has been the purpose of this history lesson? American politics is no longer a simple battle between conservatives and liberals; it has now turned also into a battle between the status-quo and supporters of change within the realms of liberals and conservatives. On the conservative side, the split between the supporters of change and the supporters of the status-quo has led to a breach in the Republican Party which has led many veteran politicians, such as Senator John McCain, to predict that a new national party will be formed soon. What Mr. McCain and many others fail to realize is that the new party is already here, they have just not made the breach official. The 2010 elections make that clear. The breach will not become official until the battle for the control of the Republican Party is settled in an upcoming election such as 2012, 2014 or 2016(if America lasts that long). Once the Establishment or the Tea Party takes control of the Republican Party, the losing faction will officially break away and form a new party to better represent whatever principles they believe they should stand for.

There is also a breach on the liberal side of the aisle in the Democratic Party, but it has not reached the breaking point level that the breach within the Republican Party has. Frustration with President Obama, his fellow Congressional Democrats and their hold on power in Washington has led to a level of discontent among liberals which has vented itself in the protests of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but has yet to channel itself into actual political action against the Democratic Establishment. That may be changing in the near-future, however. Congressman Ron Paul has been receiving a substantial amount of support from discontented Democratic liberals in his presidential campaign and if liberals are inspired by his example to stand up to their own establishment, then a internal battle between ‘Establishment’ Democrats and ‘Populist’ or popular-opinion-oriented Democrats can not be far away.

In all, if these scenarios play out as they have been doing for the past three and a half decades, then the evidence is clear. America has now transitioned into a three party system which will soon be official. It already is official in states such as Minnesota, Alaska and Colorado where a three party system exists and as the states go, so eventually goes the nation. When the Democratic Party becomes embroiled in its own internal battle, it too will split and when it does then the American political system will have finished its transformation and will have become a four-party system. Will the four-party system survive and serve America better then the two-party system has? We must wait and see.

© 2012 New Agora and The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.

Jan 3, 2012

Ron Paul and Harry Truman: Where the News Media Goes Wrong

The common word one often hears from the media’s so-called ‘experts’ today when it comes to Ron Paul is that the man cannot win the Republican nomination or the general election. He is simply too far out. He has no chance. One also hears that the nomination seems to be destined for the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and that he has the best shot to beat incumbent President Barack Obama.

Interestingly enough, the same was said over sixty years ago about a man who was fighting for the Presidency of the United States against odds that all the ‘experts’ said were much too great for him to overcome. They did not see how the man could win the nomination of his party, much less the general election. This man was Harry Truman.

Truman was running for the presidency at a time when his popularity, according to the national polls, was very low. As a result, many news media ‘experts’ said that Truman had no chance to win the presidency in the 1948 elections and that the Democrats would be better off finding a different candidate. As the election approached, Truman wanted to run despite his low poll numbers, but was opposed by many Democratic Party leaders who wanted to nominate another candidate such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower (it was not yet known that Eisenhower was a Republican).

Truman was also taking up positions on certain issues which made him popular with one faction of his party and yet very unpopular with other factions of his party and so many were opposed to his nomination. He was a strong anti-Communist in foreign policy which made many conservatives in his party happy, but also offended many liberals. He was also strongly in favor of the federal government handling the civil rights issue instead of the states, which pleased many liberals in the party but offended many small-government conservatives. Despite all the odds however, Truman did indeed win the nomination and clung ever harder to his positions on the issues heading into the 1948 election.

Unable to reconcile with the fact that Truman was the Democratic nominee, the party was split into three pieces by extreme fringe defectors opposed to Truman. Many extreme liberals followed former Vice-President Henry A. Wallace into the new Progressive Party and proclaimed their stance as being friendly to the spreading wave of Communism engulfing much of Europe and part of Asia. Many extremist small-government conservatives backed Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina who ran for President as the candidate of the southern-based States’ Rights/Dixiecrat Party and they reiterated their call for states’ rights to be respected.

All of this made the Republicans feel confident they would win the Presidency in 1948 and so many prominent Republicans fought for their party’s presidential nomination, most notably Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio and Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York. The Republicans ended up nominating Dewey for the presidency and went into the 1948 presidential campaign confident they would win in the November elections.

All throughout the campaign of 1948, opinion polls and vote forecasts by the ‘experts’ in the news media foretold of a catastrophic defeat for Truman at the hands of Dewey. However, Truman refused to give up his campaign. He took his appeal to the people with a campaign all over the nation and began to inspire the people of America with his fight to win against all the odds.

There are many similarities to Ron Paul’s current situation. Paul is being listed as ‘unelectable’ by the national media and the ‘experts’ they rely on. The general consensus among the media leading up to the 2012 elections is that the top candidate for the nomination has been former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with others such as Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, businessman Herman Cain and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich attempting to replace him as the dominant consistent frontrunner.

Paul’s stances on many issues seem to please certain factions of the Republican Party and yet offend other factions and many predict that Paul’s influence will divide the Republican Party instead of uniting it. For example, Paul calls for the nation to re-direct its military strategy away from nation-building in foreign countries to protecting America’s own borders. That stance pleases many libertarian and liberal Republicans and offends the Bush-friendly-conservative and moderate factions of the Republican Party. He is also pro-life which pleases many of the Bush-friendly-conservative and moderate Republicans but worries many libertarian and liberal Republicans.

The media’s general consensus about Ron Paul being ‘unelectable’ is being disproved by angles that the media either disregards or ignores. For instance, as of January 2012, Paul has won many straw polls hosted at various places around the country and has come in a close second at several others. In addition, interviews with local Republican Party leaders in Iowa have revealed that the projections on the ground from the earliest were that Ron Paul would have a very big finish in that state and many in New Hampshire have repeated that consensus. If that is so, and this organization is implemented in the other states as their primaries approach, then that means Paul is by no means ‘unelectable’ or unable to win the nomination. He is very much a top-tier candidate in the race.

The theory of many ‘experts’ that Paul’s views will divide the Republican Party is not very logical. Rather then dividing the party, by agreeing with each faction of the party on certain issues, Paul is actually in a position to be a better unifier of the party and the only people who would be in danger of leaving from the Republican Party would be extremists of each faction who have a higher chance of leaving if they do not get their complete platform adopted anyway. For this reason, a Ron Paul nomination would actually be in a better position to appeal to a much wider spread of voters, even if a defection to an independent candidacy of some Republican or Republican-leaning independent were to take place.

Finally, the news media seeks to discredit Paul by showing national opinion polls that show him with a very low popularity percentage and so they maintain there is no way he can win the Republican nomination. They also claim that even if he were to pull it off in some way, he would have no chance to beat President Barack Obama in the general election. This has inspired Ron Paul and his supporters to push their fight harder and Paul has taken his message to the public with his appearance at town hall meetings, whistle-stop tours and many other public appearances. He has begun to inspire the people with his fight to win and, just as with Truman in 1948, there is now evidence, as the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries approach, that Paul is actually in a good position to win.

In 1948, despite all the odds, Harry Truman’s fight bore fruit. He pulled off one of the biggest American election upsets ever and not only defeated Dewey, but defeated him soundly by more than three million votes in the popular vote with a 303 to 189 advantage in the Electoral College. Truman did this despite all the divisions within the Democratic Party, and the negative polls and opinions of the experts that Truman could not win. Today in 2012, Ron Paul is in a position to pull off a similar upset with his positions on the issues, superb organization, enthusiasm and fight for his cause. With this historical precedent of Harry Truman in 1948 considered, it is logical to predict that when the Republican National Convention convenes in August 2012, this humble congressman from Texas could very well be chosen to be the GOP nominee for 2012 and subsequently elected as the 45th President of the United States of America.

© 2012 The Subsidiarity Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without written permission from blog author.