Bearing Down on 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re a conservative, or a Tea Party patriot, your worst fears are being realized even now. Rather than selecting a candidate who fully supports your values, you are being force-fed a shrinking field of diminishing candidates who will be destroyed, one after the other until only the GOP establishment candidate remains. This has been the aim of the party from the outset. We’ve been told since at least 2009 that the only practical method by which to save the country would be to first salvage the Republican party. In fact, we’ve been told this same idea many times before. It sounded plausible enough, and after all, many were naive enough to believe that we could manage such a change, but the problem has been what it always winds up being: The party is stronger in dollars and influence than our grass-roots efforts can overcome. The party is intent upon leaving you a single choice in 2012, and that will be between an establishment candidate, whether you like it or not. They told you to fight to salvage the party, but what they really did was send you off on a wild goose chase. You won’t be salvaging this party with the slate of candidates now running, and you surely won’t save the country.
If this sounds terribly pessimistic, let me apologize in advance, because it’s going to be somewhat worse before I’ve finished. There is no mitigation strategy remaining that does not saddle you with Rove’s chosen candidate, whomever that may turn out to be, with Obama as your only alternative. Right now, that might seem to be Romney, and that’s a fair bet, as they’ve managed opinions all year long by pushing his opponents up, and then unceremoniously tearing them down, each in turn, until all that will remain at the end is a single candidate who they firmly control, whether it’s Romney or somebody as yet unannounced, like Jeb Bush, for instance.
Many of you may have looked over the field of entrants and thought, as have I, that if you could only take this part of one, and another part of the next, and so on through the field, you could build a composite candidate who was perfect in the aggregate of such a combined records and stances. There’s a reason for this: These candidates were picked to present you with precisely this devil’s choice of incomplete candidates. You might think that your candidate is best, whomever it may be at present, but let me suggest to you that the whole slate of them has been picked for you. Each was intended to get the support of one sub-group of the Republican base or another, and each has played his or her role perfectly. Consider them with me, each according to their groups:
- Michele Bachmann was to appeal to Tea Party folks inclined to vote for a woman.
- Rick Santorum was to capture the cultural and religious conservatives.
- Herman Cain was slated to win over the tax reform/fair tax crowd and those who values ‘outsiders.’
- Ron Paul exists to get the libertarian strain.
- Jon Huntsman is there to appeal to liberal republicans. (You can see how many of those there are.)
- Rick Perry is in the race to appeal to the more bombastic, tough-guy crowd.
- Newt Gingrich is there to appeal to those who like more intellectualism.
- Gary Johnson was sorted out as a redundancy to Ron Paul.
- Mitt Romney is there to capture the lot of you in the end, if nobody else happens along.
I know, you’ll tell me: “Mark, you’re crazy, they can’t all be in on it.” I will respond that they needn’t all be in on it. All that needs to be true is that they possessed an ego common to those who seek high office. Most of these people have monumental egos, so it really wouldn’t take much to get them to jump in. Secretly, these people have all wanted to be president for a long while, and it didn’t take much to get them to follow their ambitions. They needn’t be “in on it.” Once encouraged to enter the race, they merely continued being who they are, because that’s all that was required of them.
I know, it still sounds like a conspiracy theory, and in part, I suppose it is, because it’s difficult to demonstrate that the same people pulling the strings are always the same people who’ve been pulling the strings in the GOP since two minutes after John Hinckley Jr. nearly succeeded in his assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981. Reagan clearly regained control for a time, but by mid-way through his second term, the establishment had found inroads into every part of the administration, and were beginning to undermine Reagan at every possible turn.
The GOP establishment’s view of managing people in the political sphere is much like a rancher managing a herd of cattle. The one thing they don’t want is an uncontrolled stampede. A directed stampede is useful, and that is what the Tea Party has come to be. They couldn’t control it directly, so instead, they shaped it, molded it, and directed it. The GOP establishment is not merely “liberal.” They are communitarians, which is to say that they are merely communists of a different feather, who claim to revere some forms of individual liberty, but who if they get their way, wind up destroying them all. These are the same people responsible for the notion of “smart growth” or “sustainable development” plans and schemes that fall under the general umbrella you have come to know as Agenda 21. The Bushes are communitarians. Bill Clinton accepted many communitarian principles. To a certain extent it could be argued that Obama shares some of these ideas.
There are differences in the communitarian philosophy, with one group preferring a religious ethos, and the other wanting a purely secular moral base. What they both offer is what might rightly be termed a “kindler, gentler” or even “compassionate” communism. Their view has been slowly switched-in, to take the place of the “conservatism” your grandparents had known. This is why they push a form of statism that is remarkably similar to that of the open leftists, but is disguised behind appeals to compassion or political expedience, but to the largest extent, you’ve accepted them as slightly less conservative, when in fact, they aren’t conservatives at all.
Their most important tool is the art of public relations, and they are experts in it. If you want to see them in action, watch how Karl Rove seems to invade every show on Fox News. After all, Ailes is one of theirs, and this is his network. Of course, you needn’t be in their pocket to be used by them, and to the ends they have in mind. Even your opposition can be useful to them, as I’m certain you’ve figured out already.
This primary season has increasingly caused divisions among conservatives, but it hasn’t particularly worsened the relationship between the establishment and the conservative base, which has always been rough. Instead, the division now appear between subgroups as outlined above, and as the preferred candidate of each group has been dismissed, eliminated or minimized, the war in the party has been largely between these factions. This is precisely what the establishment wants and needs. Santorum supporters are too busy fighting for much of the same philosophical ground with Bachmann. Bachmann did battle with Perry. Perry battled Cain. Cain was shuffled out. Gingrich steps up, and of course, the establishment goes after him with abandon, but more importantly, gets the rest of the factions to do most of their dirty work. At the end of it all, the goal is to leave you with Romney, and if that still doesn’t work, they’ll fetch a savior like Jeb Bush or Mitch Daniels or somebody else from the Bush crew to step in. They know that they have thoroughly marginalized Ron Paul, in part by merely getting out the way, and letting him be who he is, so that they will now try to leave him as the only other alternative.
As we now know, it’s hard to consider Bachmann, Huntsman, and Santorum serious candidates, since they could not be bothered to (or simply couldn’t) gather enough signatures to get them on the primary ballot in Virginia. Perry and Gingrich will also be close, since they have barely enough, but by the time they begin disqualifying signatories to the petitions, they may well lose 10% or more of their totals, which would finish Perry and threaten Gingrich. These have each been front-runners, remember? The ones who haven’t been front-runners are now going to be sent packing by their inability to get on the ballots in various states, starting with Virginia.
I have been one of those who had long hoped that the Republican party could be reformed, and that with the input of the conservative base, be made new again, and avoid the planning and scheming of the communitarian wing. When in 1991-, Ross Perot made noise about running, and launched a campaign, I was careful because I suspected his candidacy was a trap. When he withdrew, when it seemed he might win, only to re-emerge once his hasty exit had tamped down enthusiasm for his candidacy sufficiently, I realized his was a spoiler candidacy. Do you remember the ‘volunteers’? I remember them creating a short-lived party that lasted the length of two Presidential campaigns, each time garnering just enough support to permit Bill Clinton’s election despite twice failing to achieve 50% of the popular vote.
Fast forward past the decidedly un-conservative presidency of George W. Bush, and what you find is the McCain campaign that did much the same thing when it looked like the addition of a wildly popular VP selection might indeed push them over the top. No, McCain suspended his campaign just when it seemed it might be gaining traction, and just like Perot’s in 1992, it never recovered. There are those who view these facts and wonder if the two parties aren’t really a multi-headed beast, like the hydra of fable and lore, but whether that’s true or simply a conspiracy theory, one must admit that the establishments of both parties seem frequently to function in concert to the detriment of the American people.
The Tea Party offered many of us new hope, giving us an outlet for that belief in constitutional government we had believed would restore the Republican party, and with it, the nation at large. While the Tea Party has been effective in a number of ways, what has happened in the main is that they’ve not organized to the degree that would be necessary to wrest control of the GOP from the establishment.
Where does all of this leave us? Frankly, it doesn’t seem possible that we will arrive at election day with any conservative choices, and certainly none who satisfy the criteria over which the embattled factions now fight. As this post goes to press, Donald Trump has essentially repudiated his association with the Republican party as many of us suspected he would. He seems destined to be the Ross Perot of 2012, and now that Mitt has George HW Bush’s endorsement, we look set for a repeat of 1992.
Let’s be blunt about it, and tell it like it is: Unless something unexpected happens to dramatically change the course of this election, or people decide that putting up with Ron Paul’s oddities is a price they are willing to pay to avoid another establishment subversion of the party, we’re going to get the latter. We’re being left with choices about which none on the conservative end of the spectrum are particularly happy, whether they’ll admit it or not. Apart from the Paulites and the Romneyites, most people now supporting one of the other candidates is a migrant to that support either from another candidate, or a candidate who never materialized. What’s a conservative to do? In 2012, it appears the answer may be: “Lose.”
Update: Perry has also been DQ’s in Virginia.
Update 2: Gingrich has also been DQ’d in Virginia.