â€œAfter carefully considering the whole situation, I stand with my backÂ toÂ the wall. And walking is better, than running awayâ€¦and crawling ainâ€™t no good at allâ€
Willie Nelsonâ€”Lyrics to â€œWalkingâ€ (1974)
While not known for his astute political analysis, with these lyrics Willie Nelson has managed to perfectly describe the conundrum myself and millions of other voters face in selecting a candidate to support for president amongst the Republican field.
For months now GOPers have been carefully considering the whole situation, and have yet to settle on anyone. With the voting only two weeks away a majority of those undecided now officially are standing with their backsÂ againstÂ the wall.
In this regard I am no differentâ€”laid here are the reasons I am currently walking, and not running, toward Newt Gingrich. Like any well thought out decision there are three main factors at playâ€”the mind, the gut, and the legitimate reservations. The following is an honest, pull-no-punches account of my thought process for each.
The reason why the polls have been a roller coaster in this cycle is fairly simpleâ€”you have a massive pool of Conservative voters and not one single, unquestionably consistent Conservative, who couldÂ certainly beat President Obama. My sense is that the field does have strong Conservatives, namely Bachmann and Santorum, but neither have been able to garner the support necessary to win the White Houseâ€”and Ron Paul will have to be addressed in full at some other time. As the polls suggest, the two with the best chance at unseating Obama are Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
This being the case, the exercise has come down to a question of who I feel is more Conservative between the two and who has the better chance of successfully vocalizing Conservative philosophy to the general electorate. On both counts my answer is Newt Gingrich. As we have seen in the Republican primary, the debates between President Obama and the Republican nominee are going to be viewed by a record amount of people and will largely be the deciding factor for Independents.
Perhaps no figure in modern political history has more of a gift for the debate stage than Newt Gingrich. Making this an even larger advantage is the mythic narrative that President Obama is some legendary debater. While last cycle he may have gotten the better of Hillary Clinton and John McCain overall, he never blew either off the stage (and managed to lose to both on multiple occasions).
Along with his debate prowess, there are two other things that make me comfortable with the idea of Newt as the nominee and as President. First is his deep understanding and respect for history. Whether it be American or world history, his decision making process would be solidly grounded in the actions and outcomes of past situations. I happen to think that had the filter of history been applied to many of the decisions made by our last two presidents, many of the undesirable results we have seen could have been avoided.
Second is the structure and proven results of the concept of a â€œContract with Americaâ€. The 1994 contract saw roughly 70% of its content become lawâ€”and that was with a Democrat in the White House. Any Republican taking a serious look at his â€œ21st Century Contract with Americaâ€ would likely agree that achieving even 50% of its content would result in our Country standing on immensely more solid ground than it is currently. Clearly there is no time now to go through the platform item by item, however, you can review it in detail or read a brief highlight of it here. It is only fair that serious Republicans inspect this document before discounting Mr. Gingrich.
The biggest source of apprehension I have toward Mitt Romney is his striking similarity to our 43rd president. George W. Bushâ€™s eight year application of a watered down â€œcompassionate Conservatismâ€ did a great deal of damage to the viability of the philosophy. I canâ€™t help but shake the feeling that when inevitably faced with unpredicted situations, a President Romney would not be guided through these times of crisis by Constitutional Conservatism. Instead I see him falling back on the identical political pragmatism that Mr. Bush turned to when the pressure was on.
While certainly not without its own risks, I also prefer Gingrichâ€™s personality to Romneyâ€™s in the area of foreign policy. My view is that in general, and especially with the Iranian nuclear situation, many of Americaâ€™s national security interests can be forwarded through an aggressive posture. Though it is a fine line to walk, putting a reasonable fear into rogue nations couldâ€”as proven by Reaganâ€”actually help us avoid potential conflicts. A Romney-foreign-policy approach would likely be strictly by the book (i.e. painfully cautious and deferential), and result in a more-of-the-same outcome. Though I see positives in both approaches, I feel our enemies would have a greater fear of (and hence a greater respect for) a President Gingrich.
At a time when a dramatic move toward the Right is a legitimate possibility, on nearly every issue Mitt Romney is far too timid for my taste. One perfect example is in the area of Federal income tax policy. The enthusiasm throughout the country for major tax reform has never been greater, yet in this climate the proposal offered from Romney is to keep the top rate at 35% and largely leave the current structure intact. Though it could use some tweaking, the Gingrich proposal is for an optional 15% flat tax, where each taxpayer could choose to use the old system or opt for the flat rate. This is emblematic of the level of change the former Speaker is willing to push forâ€”and the type of transformation Mitt Romney will never champion.
The fact that a voter would have reservations about their candidate is only natural. Having said that, the lengthy nature of his list points to why I am walking, and not running, toward Mr. Gingrich.
According to my television and mailbox, and no doubt yours too, not only should Gingrich be checked off our short listâ€”he should be arrested and checked in to Guantanamo Bay. These attacks are largely overblown rubbish, but there are three main factors I view as legitimate reasons for apprehension. Like Romney, Newtâ€™s career includes multiple examples of unsettling â€œpolitical flexibilityâ€, his past personal life has often been a mess, and a rather large number of his former Republican colleagues have been outspoken against him (noteworthy on this list for me is Tom Coburn, whom I respect greatly).
Quite honestly these things have made the decision a far more anguished one than it has been in the pastâ€”or that it ought to be I might add. If I insisted on taking solace it would be found in the fact that while both candidates I view as being able to win the nomination and defeat President Obama have strong negativesâ€”both would be an upgrade for the Country.
I personally want the Republican Party, and the Country, to move significantly to the Right. I want the 10th Amendment to be respected, the enumerated powers to be followed, and for personal responsibility to once again be required and not optional. I do not see Mitt Romney doing this to the extent I want. In my eyes Newt Gingrich is, as George Will says, the most Conservative candidate who can win.
Like it will for many voters, my decision largely came down to a risk vs. reward ratioâ€”and there is no doubt in my mind that Mitt Romney would be the safer choice. Given the circumstances, what America needs right now is a real and powerful constraint on Federal power. Of the nationally viable candidates, Gingrichâ€”and the 21st Century Contractâ€”comes the closest to my vision of a positive American futureâ€¦For this reason I am willing to roll the dice.
Photo courtesy of Dave Davidson, whose outstanding work can be seen at Prezography.com
â€œI have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedomâ€¦..And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.â€
– Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative
Perhaps more than any other politician of the twentieth century, Barry Goldwater captured the essence of the American spirit – ferocious independence. This spirit depends upon the Constitution for its life and energy. Without our Constitution, our nation is nothing more than another geographic location; nothing but more real estate.
The Goldwater wing of the Republican Party has been asleep for decades, as the economists espousing Keynesian and Chicago School theories on the benefits of inflation became trendy and the American political aristocracy banished the Constitution to the wilderness, to be replaced with a holy mission to spread democracy with armed drones and replace civil liberties with state-managed dependency – what Barack Obama once referred to as â€œpositive rights.â€
Our nation is bankrupt; the unemployment rate is falling, not because people are finding work but because people are giving up and staying at home. While we still import millions of barrels of oil every day, we now export refined gasoline. As the Federal Reserve printed money to inflate the tech bubble, the housing bubble, five military conflicts, the bailout, the wealth conflagration referred to as the Stimulus, and the Treasury bonds sold to raise the money to pay the interest on the bonds sold to pay the interest on the bonds that were sold by Lyndon Johnson. The M2 supply (the number of dollars floating around out there) has more than doubled in the last ten years; as a result each individual dollar is now worth less. By doing nothing more than holding Canadian currency, the Canadian people now have the purchasing power to essentially outbid us for our own gasoline. This is what inflation looks like.
Prior to 1964 no American politician had ever referenced inflation in a political advertisement, and then Barry Goldwater did it. As Lyndon Johnson proposed to pay for a war in Vietnam and the Great Society programs of increased social spending, Barry Goldwater condemned the entire charade as a swindle, a hoax, and a fraudulent promise of perfect prosperity – if we print enough money, we will all be rich.
As the 1960â€™s gave way to the 1970â€™s, the bills began to fall due, and the government realized that its promises exceeded itâ€™s abilities. With little more than a speech, Richard Nixon took us off of the gold standard. As it turned out, William McChesney Martin (then the Federal Reserve Chairman) had printed so much money to pay for Johnsonâ€™s war on poverty that the gold reserves were no longer adequate to back it up. Bye-bye gold standard.
Hello fiat currency. Since 2001, the Fed has expanded our money supply by upwards of $6 trillion dollars. They distributed it to the government – to pay for social programs that are necessary, not perhaps for our national strength, but for the reelection of our politicians, as well as to banks so that they could write mortgages to people who couldnâ€™t pay them back. Nobody cared if the mortgages went bad; the banks had sold them to Fannie Mae, created by the government in 1939 specifically to buy mortgages from banks. Then, in 2008, the Federal Reserve printed the money needed to buy to bonds the Treasury needed to sell in order to fund the bailout of Fannie Mae and the banks.
In his pamphlet â€œConscience of a Conservative,â€ Goldwater blasted what he called delusional dreams of the â€œJacobins and leftists.â€ We in the conservative movement are not supposed to be allowed the luxury of idle utopian dreams, be they making the world safe for democracy, or making our domestic economy so wealthy (through housing and stimulus) that we simply wouldnâ€™t need to save money, manufacture things, or export anything other that Treasury bonds. These goals are fantasies; they have led us to quagmires of humiliation, poverty, and degradation.
Will anyone dare to ask Barack Obama why, when the United States was consistently running trade deficits in excess of $40 billion per month, he believed our problem was a lack of demand? Will anyone ask why he simply assumed that if we paid people to buy new (foreign-made) cars, then our economy would improve? A trade deficit, by simple, logical definition, is the consumption of goods in excess of your ability to produce. Stimulus accomplished nothing more than the further impoverishment of the nation. Who will challenge Barack Obama on this issue?
Enter our Republican candidates, most of whom seem to think that we desperately need to print money to pay for a war with Iran. Is this really the best we can do? A choice between inflationary games to pay for socialism, and inflationary games to pay for a war that we cannot otherwise afford and could easily be prevented? Only one candidate warned of the inflationary bubble in housing as early as 2001. Only one candidate understands the fundamental problem of our economy – too much debt; too little production. Too much urgent government initiative; too little freedom.
â€œExtremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.â€ Barry Goldwater was roundly condemned as an extremist for these sentiments. We live in an age of bankruptcy, fear, and disappointment. Candidates of firm conviction, shrewd talents, or competent judgment are frequently passed over in favor of the candidates with the darkest nightmares, the most delusional promises, or the most artificial of Cheshire Cat grins, with their insistence that spending borrowed money will make us rich and powerful, and if you disagree then you are clearly a cynical malcontent, playing politics at a time when action is required; that is American politics in the 21st Century.
The Goldwater wing of the Republican Party – fanatical adherents to the Constitution, ferocious nationalists, resolute defenders of liberty and individual rights- has been asleep for decades. Without our Constitution, the United States of America is nothing more than real estate. The Goldwater wing of the Republican Party is awake now; and they demand to be taken into account. So far, only one candidate has.
Photo Courtesy of Dave Davidson, his fabulous work can be viewed at http://prezography.blogspot.com/
This morning I am considering “what ifs”.
My father often jokes that had I been born 5 hours earlier, he would have named me Ulysses instead of Arthur. Â That is, I could have been a 4th of July baby with the initials “U.S.”. Â I have been forever thankful that my mom stuck it out long enough to prevent that impediment on my life.
Sometimes I daydream about what would have happened in my life if I had been named Ulysses instead of Arthur. Â I believe I would have developed a very similar personality, but I suspect (mixing my current personality with the name) that I would have found myself running for public office at some level and leveraging my “U.S.” initials as a brand of patriotism.
But today I want to consider some “what ifs” that actually matter. Â Such as what if Washington’s Continental Army completely disintegrated during the march across New England? Â Or was decimated at New York? Â Or never made it across the Delaware? Â As much as we may honor today the patriots who spent their time articulating a fantastic message of freedom from the tyranny of the British King, our standing as a nation would have been seen as a quaint colonial uprising if it had not been for the hard work and sacrifices of the soldiers who fought for our freedoms.
It is entirely likely that the British Realm would have dominated the world in greater glory in the past 235 years. Â The great world wars of the 20th century may never have happened. Â Freedom for slaves may have occurred on a larger scale in the earlier part of the 19th century (recall that the British Kingdom led the world in abolishing slavery, not the United States).
It is hard to deduce the path of technology over the same time period… American inovation has been a factor in developing better processes and our freedoms have been a factor in developing better education and allowing dreamers to work out their dreams. Â And the urgent needs of war (though not a goal of a nation) have certainly led to some valuable inventions. Â I tend to believe that we would, if still a British colony, have a world without iPods or even computers, or televisions, or many of the modern conveniences that we enjoy today. Â We would probably still be populated heavily along the coasts, lacking efficient transportation, and Native Americans could still be holding much of the land in the midwest.
Spain and France could still be holders of large parts of the American continents.
Of course, the Founding Fathers could not have comprehended all that they initiated by standing up for the basic rights of man. Â They were dreamers, and some were fortunate enough to see parts of their dream come to fruition, but despite everything we may think about our current state of affairs, those men who sacrificed everything would doubtless be proud to see what their work has wrought.
Generation upon generation have looked upon the Revolution and subsequent creation of a republic as the cornerstones of our incredibly open society. Â The Constitution is a bulwark that has carried us through our darkest days, and provided over 200 years of bloodless changes in power. Â We should be proud of our ability to work things through as a nation in peace.
We may have concerns today about how the Constitution has been misunderstood by some, abused by others, and ignored at times when it should be the guide for how we make decisions. Â The frustrations grow when it becomes more apparent that our government, which was built to serve the people, appears to be served by the people. Â We must guard against this at every turn.
But the Founders would be proud to see that so many do remember their words, seek faithfully to carry on a free society, and flourish in our freedom. Â What we have today in the United States is more than I think they could have hoped for. Â No matter what one may think about the current state of political affairs, the dream of America continues to burn brightly. Â To the Founders we should be appreciative that they stuck through to the end, and that they sought the hand of Providence in what they did. Â While the structure of our government may be secular, our goals are tied to the will of our Creator who is the provider of the very rights we seek to defend.