2012 Presidential Election
News broke last evening that Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) will announce the formation of an presidential exploratory committee today as he continues to weigh a second bid for the Republican Party’s nomination:
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, whose outspoken libertarian views and folksy style made him a cult hero during two previous presidential campaigns, will announce on Tuesday that he’s going to try a third time.
Sources close to Paul, who is in his 12th term in the House, said he will unveil an exploratory presidential committee, a key step in gearing up for a White House race. He will also unveil the campaign’s leadership team in Iowa, where the first votes of the presidential election will be cast in caucuses next year.
Paul took 10 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses and 8 percent in New Hampshire’s primary. He finished second, with 14 percent of the vote, in the Nevada caucuses, and eventually finished fourth in the Republican nominating process with 5.6 percent of the total vote. Paul’s campaign book, The Revolution: A Manifesto also reached No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list in 2008.
This would seem to be an ideal year for Paul: Since the last election, the Republican Party has moved much closer to his view on deficit reduction, which made him an early tea party favorite. All of the party’s top-tier presidential hopefuls are focusing on lowering debt, government spending, and tax rates, issues Paul has long advocated.
It looks like Paul’s staff is getting better at planning, an aspect of his campaign that was missing sorely in 2008. This news will largely drown out the Gary Johnson’s announcement for president late last week (he is bypassing the exploratory process).
We’re about to close the book on another year. 2010 was hard fought as we were unsuccessful in beating back ObamaCare. Thankfully, court challenges to the constitutionality of the health care reform law could pose a threat. In just the last month Judge Roger Vinson struck down the law on the basis that the federal government could not use the Commerce Clause to force individuals to purchase health insurance. It also looks like Judge Henry Hudson is prepared to do the same in Florida. And with another annual budget deficit well over $1 trillion, spending remains out of control thanks to single-party control in the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
But we did have some victories for liberty as the Second Amendment finally incorporated to the states in McDonald v. Chicago, outdated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed and WikiLeaks released another round of documents that helped shine light on what the federal govermment is doing in our names.
As you may have heard, Herman Cain is planning on forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run in 2012. I’m not surprised. Cain has always held ambition to hold elected office. He ran for the United States Senate here in Georgia in 2004; losing to now-Senator Johnny Isakson without a runoff.
Many don’t realize that this isn’t the first time Cain, who once served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, has discussed a presidential bid. As Matt Lewis has noted, Cain ran for president in 2000.
Like many conservatives, Cain has used the tea party movement as a platform to build up his name and slam the policies of Barack Obama and Democrats. Unfortunately, the criticism of Obama and friends inside the tea party movement is no longer limited to economic policy.
However, Cain was largely silent during the six years of runaway spending under the Bush Administration and a Republican-controlled Congress. Like most Republicans, he only acknowledged his party’s failings after it was too late to do anything about it.
He backed the Wall Street bailout, or according to Cain, the “recovery plan,” as he called it on his radio show. Cain wrote that nationalizing banks “is not a bad thing.” He even went as far as criticizing opponents of the bailout, calling them “free market purists” and absurdly claiming that no valid criticism had been brought forward.
Did American voters send a message to Washington in November, the message that they want to fix the budget deficit through higher taxes? That’s what Ezra Klein of the Washington Post has recently written, claiming Americans not only “moved the goalposts” on the sequester, but they actually want taxes to go up:
Think back to July 2011. The problem was simple. Republicans wouldn’t agree to raise the debt ceiling without trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. Democrats wouldn’t agree to trillions of dollars in deficit reduction if it didn’t include significant tax increases. Republicans wouldn’t agree to significant tax increases. The political system was at an impasse, and in a few short days, that impasse would create a global financial crisis.
The sequester was a punt. The point was to give both sides a face-saving way to raise the debt ceiling even though the tax issue was stopping them from agreeing to a deficit deal. The hope was that sometime between the day the sequester was signed into law (Aug. 2, 2011) and the day it was set to go into effect (Jan. 1, 2013), something would…change.
So far, so good. Klein is correct that the sequester was a complete punt, but then again I don’t know anyone who would really disagree with that. However, after this bit, he starts to go off the rails:
There were two candidates to drive that change. The first and least likely was the supercommittee. If they came to a deal that both sides accepted, they could replace the sequester. They failed.
A commentator going by the handle of “Travis” posted an, shall I say “intriguing” comment on my recent post about Grover Norquist. Travis writes:
This has nothing to do with the evil media, this has everything to do with elections.
Your slash-taxes-and-government policy preferences were put up to a vote earlier this month, and they lost. The American people re-elected a president who campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthy, protecting entitlements and preserving government services.
This is just the bandwagon fallacy.
To illustrate my point, let me put it to you this way: Suppose Candidate A (for a naughty word Jason says I cannot type) campaigns on a platform of fixing our economy by killing all the poor people. Now, let’s say that, for whatever reason, a majority of Americans disagree with Candidate A’s policy position, yet, strangely, they end up electing him into office anyways. Does this mean that Candidate A’s policy to kill the poor is the right thing to do?
That was a rhetorical question, there’s really no need to answer.
Yes, Obama won the election. But just because a guy wins what is essentially a popularity contest does not mean that his policies are ipso facto the right ones and everyone else should roll over and play dead. I guarantee you that liberals would not have done that if Romney won, as they did not do it when Bush won (particularly after 2004, when he won the popular vote.)
“Vote: The instrument and symbol of a free man’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.” - Ambrose Bierce, American Author
Nearly two weeks have passed since the 2012 elections, and we can begin to prepare a postmortem of this latest cycle in American politics. Despite the fact that, for all intents and purposes, the make-up of government has remained almost exactly the same, Obama and the Democrats are declaring a mandate for their agenda of growing government, higher taxes, more regulations, etc. Obama now repeats his demand that Republicans begin any budget talks by agreeing to increase taxes (“enhance revenues”, in euphemistic Washingtonian parlance). The left, gleeful at the re-election of Obama, tell the rest of us to “get over it” and stop fighting Obama’s agenda. I guess that makes sense. After all, almost immediately after the election of George W. Bush in 2000, the left was insisting that the country line up behind Bush because he’d won, saying we all need to support the president. Oh wait, that never happened…
After much contemplation, I’ve concluded that Obama voters fall generally into one of three categories; those that voted based on race, those that voted because they are hard-core leftists who agree with his policies, and the ignorant (this includes those who voted for him because he promised to be Santa Claus).Conservatives could do little to win over those who voted based on race or alignment with his Marxist ideology. However, where we failed was in showing the ignorant how voting for Obama was a losing proposition for them. Since ignorant (unlearned) is not the same as stupid (enable to learn), we retain the possibility of changing minds here, if we can effectively make the argument against Obama’s policies.
While combing through the post-election coverage, I found this little gem from Tony Lee of Breitbart News:
Jenny Beth Martin, National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, criticized the Republican Party for hand-picking a Beltway elite candidate who did not campaign forcefully on America’s founding principles and said the “presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”
“For those of us who believe that America, as founded, is the greatest country in the history of the world – a ‘Shining city upon a hill’ – we wanted someone who would fight for us,” Martin said. “We wanted a fighter like Ronald Reagan who boldly championed America’s founding principles, who inspired millions of independents and ‘Reagan Democrats’ to join us, and who fought his leftist opponents on the idea that America, as founded, was a ‘Shining city upon a hill.’
Instead, Martin lamented, “what we got was a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment wing of the Republican Party.”
No, really, I want to know what’s going on here. Because it seems evident to me that Republican voters went to Republican primaries and voted for their candidate for the Republican nomination. The “Establishment” did not foist Romney upon them. Republican voters made their choices at primaries and caucuses across the nation this past spring.
Wednesday, November 7th, was a very dark day for America. Abandoning his trademark 2008 slogan of “Hope and Change”, Obama 2012 successfully relied on lies, bitterness, and division. It was not surprising. A couple of years ago, former Hall County (GA) Commissioner Ashley Bell, a young black man and a rising star in the Georgia Democrat Party, who spoke at the 2004 Democrat National Convention on the same stage as Obama, told me of his surprising decision to switch to the Republican Party. He said that he’d come to realize that the Democrat Party is a party of faction and division. They divide everyone along lines of race, sex, and socio-economic status, and then cobble together a majority for that district. That was proven decisively in this election. Obama relied heavily on fomenting hatred, claiming Romney and the Republicans were waging a war against women, hated immigrants, and wanted the poor, elderly and infirm to suffer. He encouraged his supporters to vote for “revenge”. Romney let Obama define him as evil and heartless, waging a very ineffective campaign up until the first debate, but then not quite able to close the gap by Election Day.
In the aftermath of the lop-sided Electoral College victory by Obama, every pundit on Earth has insight as to why Romney and the Republicans lost so decisively, and what they must do to remain a relevant party in a nation with changing demographics. To some extent, they are all right, and they are all wrong. After having had a few days to luck my wounds and reflect on the election, I’ll offer my own insights into this election, which will be just as insightful and worthless as any other.
One of the reasons that Mitt Romney and the Republicans lost Tuesday came down to one simple thing: people like free stuff. No, really. They want politicians to give them free stuff. The 47% comment rings true. It is, as Bastiat said, legal plunder, and people will totes vote for guys who will make sure they’re on the receiving end of the plunder.
Maybe conservatives and libertarians should go for more of this.
Okay, now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, having fallen there in shock, or reinflated your forehead, having violently flattened against your desk, hear me out. I’m not suggesting that conservatives and libertarians give up their principled stand for the free market and become socialists. Quite on the contrary, what I suggest has been supported and proposed by no less conservative/libertarian luminaries as Frederich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Charles Murray.
You can probably see where I’m going with this: I think it’s time we start to seriously discuss the idea of a basic income guarantee. In a nutshell, this would be an annual payout to all citizens, establishing a “floor” of sorts for people’s income. Charles Murray, an intellectual titan residing at the American Enterprise Institute, put this idea into book form in 2006 with In Our Hands. He explained his idea in a publication by the Foundation for Law, Justice, and Society in the UK [PDF]:
Whatever else comes in doesn’t matter at this point because CNN just projected that President Barack Obama will win Ohio, putting him at 274 electoral votes. Romney was still trailing in Colorado and Florida when CNN made the projection.
[UPDATE — 11:33 PM] Romney’s campaign is not conceding Ohio right now. They’re apparently not happy that media outlets have made the call on the Buckeye State. As of right now, President Obama leads Romney less than 30,000 votes in the state.
[11:36 PM] On Fox News, Megyn Kelly literally walked off the set and into the room where analysts are going over the numbers to ask them why they called Ohio for Obama. Apparently, Karl Rove took issue with the call in Ohio, suggesting that Romney could still close the gap. The Fox News analysts explained that while Romney may close the gap, there just aren’t enough votes in the state for him to win the race, noting that most of the remaining uncounted ballots would go to Obama.