While experts sift through the results of last night’s completely over-analyzed Iowa caucus. Rick Santorum with a well-timed bump in popularity rivals Mitt Romney for first place in the first Republican contest to select their candidate. This caucus is an encapsulation of the Republican schizophrenia that is prevalent today. The establishment that wants a candidate who is not controversial . Someone who appeals to sensible middle-of-the-road folks that want to send someone competent and steady to the White House –without surprises.
Then they have the evangelical Christian wing who would like nothing more than to legislate their religion nationally, while at the same time balking at other governments who may be run by Islamist groups with similar goals in a different flavor. This is the Republican dilemma mixed in with a little Cult of Paul for spice. It’s not an enviable position and is one that weakens the party further going into the national campaign cycle.
Americans are worried about jobs and Republicans are worried about abortions. Something that might happen in a woman’s lifetime one time, for many not at all and yet listening to the Social Conservative Republicans you’d think callous women all over America go out for Starbucks and an abortion at their local Planned Parenthood every other weekend. The astonishing ridiculousness of that line of propaganda is completely absurd, and yet many really smart people buy into it. Enough to win the Election in 2012? I don’t think so. Coupled with the Libertarian Conservative line of pick yourself up by the bootstraps even if you don’t have boots, message that the GOP strategists have pulled from the 2008 files and are recycling once more comes off to many as a patronizing kick in the gut will come off at the polls with, I would imagine, the same results as 2008.
As I listen to the discussion, the first thing that comes to my mind is does it even matter who is chosen to be the candidate? I think it matters less than it has in the past. The strategists focus on that age old question “Were you better off than you were four years ago?” They focus on individual policy platforms by each candidate and that worked before when the public was barely paying attention. In 2012 things are completely different. Party branding has burned into the public consciousness since 2010. The question in the voting booth on Election Day will not be “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” The question will be “Who will protect you from them?” And who is them, you may ask? Well if you are middle-class or lower them would mean the destructive corporate interests, bankers and Wall Street players that place their bottom line before all else. Starving children and choices between food and medicine are none of their concern. If you are one of these particular corporate interests mentioned, the them is everyone else. And from that question the decision will be made for the next President of the United States.
As such, barring any extremist craziness, it really doesn’t matter who the Republican party chooses as candidate. The next Election will be a referendum on destructive partisan politics, legislating religion, government tyranny on civil rights and regarding very personal private decisions such as how one will live their life and protect their health. People have to know how much you care, before they care how much you know. The Republicans have lost a significant portion of the public’s trust. One candidate alone will not be able to fix that.