“A free America… means just this: individual freedom for all, rich or poor, or else this system of government we call democracy is only an expedient to enslave man to the machine and make him like it.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
Earlier this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie restated, this time more emphatically, that he would not be running for president. Earlier today, Sarah Palin came out with a “no” also. I suppose it’s possible that somebody could break in late, but for now it looks like the field is set.
I personally believe either Christie or Palin could have come in and won the nomination rather handily. Christie, especially, would have all but sealed it up the day he announced. For Palin it would have taken some work, and some communication (but she communicates really well) – and I think she could have gotten there.
The current “odds-on-favorite” to win is Mitt Romney (intrade is putting him at just under a 60% chance of victory). I don’t see it that way. First, I’ll give you the way I see it; followed by a “why I won’t vote for Romney” diatribe.
The way I see it …
When asked to self-identify their political preferences, the United States voting population typically comes up with a 20-40-40 split. 20% self-identify as “liberal,” 40% self-identify as “moderate,” and 40% self-identify as “conservative.” Now, these names mean different things to different people. It may well be that I (a conservative) would call many of those “moderates” liberals. It may also be that the term “liberal” has more of a stigma, so people shy away and choose “moderate.” Whatever caveat you wish to apply, it’s probably not the case that these numbers correctly identify the population under any given definition of the political spectrum.
Having said that, 20-40-40 is about the best set of numbers we have, and any departure would be conjectural. (I don’t generally oppose conjecture, mind you, but I don’t really have a good model for breaking this distribution apart right now.)
Now, I would gladly characterize Barack Obama as a liberal. He’s well to the left of Bill Clinton. I would characterize Romney as a moderate (and I don’t think he’d object). I find it very hard to believe that in a nation where 40% of the people claim to be conservative, that no conservative will be a contender for the presidency this time around.
Let’s take a look at some different numbers. The latest Real Clear Politics averages show the following breakdown of support for the major candidates: Romney (21.6%), Perry (18.0%), Cain (15.0%), Gingrich (9.2%), Paul (7.0%), Bachmann (4.2%), Santorum (2.8%) and Huntsman (1.8%). That total comes out to 79.6%, leaving just over 20% as either “undecided” or “rounded out by poll-averaging errors.” In this group we have three candidates who might qualify for the moderate tag: Romney, Gingrich, and Huntsman. (Please, no laughing at the Gingrich characterization here – he’s much closer to Romney than he is to Bachmann.) Those guys get 32.6% of the take, or about 41% of the “declared” voters. The rest, who would probably qualify for Tea Party support (maybe not Santorum, but he’s a bit player anyway) get the other 59%.
That is telling. Voters respond with 32.6% saying they like a “moderate” candidate, 47% saying they like a “conservative” candidate, and 20.4% saying they haven’t made up their mind yet. Those undecideds would have to break radically in favor of “moderate” to fill in the gap. I doubt that will happen.
No, the question will be “what happens when the conservatives start leaving the race?” If Perry, or Cain, (or dare I hope PAUL), or any of the others can coalesce the conservative, Tea Party support, they’ll beat Romney in a walk. Christie could have done that (and pulled quite a few party insiders as well). Palin could have done that. Now we’re waiting to see if anyone else can.
I won’t vote for Romney …
There are just so many reasons here – I almost feel bad giving them all.
We’ve noted in the past that Romney is pro-choice, while I am pro-life. The fundamental purpose of government must be defense of individual liberties and human rights. If a president (or candidate) can’t get this one right, then I don’t trust them to do any other functions of government the right way either. I will not be voting for a pro-choicer.
Here the ardent pragmatist (is there such a thing?) will say “but what if you had a candidate that was perfect in every other way, and they were running against an anti-abortion version of Hitler?” OK, I’ll dive into the mire for a second. The National Right to Life committee estimates the number of abortions performed since 1973 to be over 52,000,000. We hold that each of these was a human life, a baby, a defenseless child. Tell me that’s not Hitlerian. Tell me that this “perfect-in-every-other-way” candidate isn’t the spawn of Adolf Hitler himself … I will not believe you.
It’s not just abortion though. It really isn’t. You have to start these things with the end in mind. What do you want America to be? I want America to be a free country, where individual liberty is respected, and where the government is not a mechanism for men to rule over the lives of their neighbors.
Now ask yourself which president in 2013-2016 moves us closer to that reality. Is it Obama or Romney? I suspect it is NOT Romney. Why? He has no intention of moving America toward freedom. (Please, the progenitor of Romneycare has no qualms about subjugating the free men.) All a Romney presidency would do is to help destroy any last vestiges of conservatism within the Republican party. At least with Obama there is a focus for opposition. The Tea Party would find it tough sledding indeed to rail against a sitting Republican moderate president (just like the Libertarians found little footing in the face of George W. Bush).
So I say “no” on Romney. I will continue to say no on Romney. I further believe that he will falter, just like he did last time. This is not your normal Republican nomination process (the kind that produced Bush in 88, Dole in 96, and McCain in 2008). The Tea Party is fired up and not ready or willing to compromise. I suspect that will carry the day in the nomination process.
And who knows … maybe Marco Rubio will reconsider.