What Is Best for the G.O.P. and More Importantly, the Nation?

Bookmark and Share    Several months ago, President Obama had announced the execution of Osama bin Laden, and a debt weary nation seemed to be hopeful that our economy was on the verge of coming back. Some were beginning to believe that President Obama was shaping up to be another unbeatable incumbent come election time.

Since then, things have changed dramatically. All the economic indicators that were expected to produce numbers indicating a turnaround for the economy, have consistently underperformed all reaosnable measures of a healthy economy. An ongoing military effort in the mottled mission of Libya continues, the largest number of casualties in a single day of our longest war in history have been seen, Middle East strife in Syria as well as Egypt weigh heavily on international affairs, the quadrupling of our debt has forced our credit rating to be downgraded, the stock market is dropping to a point of being declared a bear market, gas prices have soared, unemployment remains more than a percentage point above the 8 % that President Obama promised it would never rise above, talk of a double-dip recession is remerging, and in general, no one is happy.

So now suddenly President Obama is again looking like a Jimmy Carter, one-termer …….a President who instills no confidence in the people, the markets, the economy or anything else. A President who lacks leadership and is controlled by circumstances far more than they controls circumstances.

But as quickly as things went from good to bad for President Obama, they could again change from bad to good. That is the nature of politics. But for Republicans, which condition is best for them to confront the President in during the 2012 election?

Are Republicans better off facing a President Obama who is severely wounded and hanging on to the doorknob of the Oval Office by his fingertips? Or a President Obama who has some clear positive results to hang his hat on? The answer may seem obvious but it is not.

When voters, particularly Republicans, are facing an incumbent President who is serving in times of great dissatisfaction, they often tend to go to extremes and produce a nominee  that is at the total opposite end of the Democrat incumbent President’s  ideology. In other words, they tend to nominate an extremely conservative presidential candidate. The best and most recent examples can be found in the 1964 and 1980 presidential elections.

In ’64 a troubled nation that was in the midst of riots and war protests and was embrking on the expansion of the welfare state, nominated Barry Goldwater to run against incumbent Lyndon Johnson. Goldwater lost big. But one must also consider the fact that in that election, Johnson was representing the legacy of a martyred President who was abruptly taken away from us by an assassins bullet. Nonetheless, political dissatisfaction did force Republicans to nominate an extremely conservative candidate who was as contrarian to Lyndon Johnson as possible.

In 1980, again a weary nation faced foreign strife that held Americans hostage, was in the midst of an energy crisis and had a crumbling economy with double digit unemployment and extremely high inflation (but as bad as it was, we still didn’t see our credit rating downgraded). In that election, Republican voters turned to Ronald Reagan, probably the most conservative voice of the day. That year Reagan won.

Depending on how bad things are in the nation under a President of one ideology, the futher to the opposite end of the ideological spectrum they go in the oppsoition leader they seek. So if President Obama remains critically wounded, does that mean the G.O.P. will nominate the most conservative candidate running? Will it turn to Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry or draw Sarah Palin into the contest and nominate her? If President Obama’s approval and the economy stabilizes, will Republicans nominate a more seemingly moderate voice like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty?

And of those two scenarios, which is better?

Is the G.O.P. better off nominating a candidate that is perceived as an extremist? Will such a conservative be able to defeat even a severely damaged President Obama? Or is the Party better off nominating a moderate voice and hope that the dissatisfaction with President Obama is so high that voters will still flock to ABO…… Anyone But Obama?

I do not have the definitive answer to those questions.  Given the infinitessimal number of factors that play a role in any given election and the endless number of different logisitcs between one election and another, I am not sure anyone can have a definitive answer to those questions.   But I  have a feeling about them. I believe that Barack Obama’s presidency has been so far to the left that in the minds of most Americans, it has highlighted an abundant degree of liberal thinking that is so antithetical to American democratic principles that people are willing to lurch quickly and sharply to the right in an attempt to take corrective measures that get the nation back on track and restore balance. Perhaps that is why many voters are still waiting for a voice that seems to be more conservative than the ones that are currently in the race.  It is certainly why Republicans regained control of the House in 2010.

How this dynamic will play itself out  is uncertain. That is what elections are for. If we knew who would win, we would forgo the process and save ourselves a lot of time and money. But in the interim, each of the most viable Republican candidates for President are seeking to prove themselves to be more conservative than the next.   That leaves the last question which is, can a nominee be too conservative?  Under the current TEA movement atmosphere, one can be too socially conservative but they can’t be too fiscally conservative. And there in lies the moderation that is key to winning the general election.

No matter what,  moderation of some sort is required to win the general election. For the most part, the independent voter does not want an ideological animal for President, they want a person with good  judgement and while ideology is important, it is not desired by them in extremes.  Richard Nixon’s saying is true. In the Republican primary you run far to right but in the general election you run to the middle. From the way things look right now, the G.O.P. candidate won’t have to run very far to the middle to beat President Obama, but for the sake of our nation, the G.O.P. must prevent President Obama from winning reelection. I believe the key to being successful at that lies within a G.O.P. that will be conservative enough to respect the Constitution.  That means they will stay out of our bedrooms, respect states rights, support a limited federal government, stand up for a strong national defense, and push for a government of less spending and more liberty.

That is easier said than done, but if the message is articulated right, American voters will be willing to give that messenger a chance and leave President Obama behind.

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