Friday, February 03, 2012

Dazed and confused

I’m “confuzzled.”

I have my absentee ballot for the March 6th primary in hand, having done due diligence and cherishing my right to vote like a refugee from an Eastern European dictatorship.

The problem is, I don’t know who to vote for.

The general election in November is not the problem. Let’s take it as a granted that whoever the replacement is for Barack Hussein Obama, they will have my vote. The last three years have been an unmitigated disaster, as regards the presidency and the direction America has taken. In my nearly six decades of life—and thirty-five years of observing politics—I have never seen such a failure of leadership and cynical disregard for the responsibilities of the highest office of the most powerful nation in history. I came of age politically during the scandal of Watergate, and thought it was the be-all and end-all of political chicanery. Then came the damage control of the Ford presidency, followed by another litany of failure with the Carter presidency. That was followed by eight years of relative restoration of America’s greatness under Ronald Reagan, and four years of undoing that under the stewardship of Bush the Elder. The moral relativism of Bill Clinton—with its nattering about “…depends on what the meaning of 'is' is…” made me re-think my conviction that I’d seen the worst of things with Watergate and Jimmy Carter. George W. Bush tried his best, and anyone who keeps repeating “We have a lot of work to do” is aces in my book, but although he rose to the occasion when it mattered, his caretaker-presidency-turned-national-emergency was too little, too late. Partisan bickering and the general confusion of his policies doomed him to being a second-rater, although not a total failure.

Now we are saddled with an ineffectual quasi-socialist who embodies the worst aspects of old-school Republican corruption combined with radical ideology that history has proven to be a total failure. The only historical parallel I can find is the decline of the Roman Empire, where the emperors pursed a satyr’s lifestyle, engaged in wars of opportunity, and distracted their people with bread and circuses while the barbarian hordes gathered in the forests beyond the walls and waited for the moment to strike.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s say that America is truly an empire, and the barbarians are everyone from the Chinese—with their aggressive economic policies—to the terrorists of Islam with their temporal hatred of anything not connected to the teachings of their 16th century cargo-cult mentality. Even as their own failed socialist experiments are falling apart, our allies despise us for the perceived weakness of our leadership, and while the crooning of Barry O. may land him a guest appearance on “American Idol”, he cannot sing loud enough to drown out the knocking of the barbarians at the gates. Nero may not have actually fiddled while Rome burned, but he considered himself a superb entertainer, and forced his courtiers to sit through performances where he accompanied himself on the lyre and sang soothing melodies about how everything was all right and salvation was just around the corner.

So, in the upcoming presidential primary, I want to choose the best candidate to run against the incumbent knucklehead. Although I think we have passed the tipping point, and decline is inevitable, this is my chance to vote my conscience and convictions. In Georgia, we have a euphemism left over from The War of Northern Aggression. Southerners bore a grudge against President Lincoln and Republicans in general, especially those who oversaw the atrocities of “Reconstruction”. From the late 1860s until the last two decades of the 1900s, if you asked a son of the South who they were going to vote for, they’d tell you: “I’ll vote for the mangiest yeller dog ‘fore I vote for a Republican.” These staunch Confederates, yearning for the glory days of The Lost Cause, became known as “yellow-dog Democrats”. (I keep hearing newscasters and pundits these days referring to some critter called a “blue-dog Democrat”, but I’m damned if I know what species that is. However, I’m sure the term isn’t complimentary.) Yellow-dog Democrats pretty much became extinct in 1980, as pragmatism and common sense came face-to-face with Jimmy Carter’s homespun platitudes about why America was no longer an exceptional nation. Today, the South is a bastion of Republican conservatism, despite being overrun with liberal Yankees reminiscent of the carpetbaggers of old. We don’t mind y’all coming down here, marrying our womenfolk, renovating the cities you pillaged and burned, and preaching liberal doctrine to deaf ears. Just don’t bother to tell us how y’all do so well in Detroit and Philadelphia, because we don’t care. If our quality of life is so benighted, then why was only one out of seven Georgia residents born here?

Gosh, I’m wandering! Yeah, yeah…yellow dogs and conscience. I’m a yellow dog of some breed, because come November, I’m going to hold my nose and vote for whatever flea-bitten mutt runs against Barry O. The only person who could do more to ruin this country would be a mullah from Tehran.

That being established, I rather like all of the Republican candidates. I wish we could do some DNA splicing, cloning, and come up with a single candidate—that “Generic Republican”—who embodies all the positive ideas of the Final Four that defeats Obama so roundly in the polls. Wishful thinking aside, I have to make a personal choice as to who might be the best man for the job, and that’s my dilemma.

Taking the candidates from last-to-first in this week’s Florida primary, let me explain:

Rick Santorum is—as he never fails to mention—a true conservative. His foreign policy and economic stances seem well thought-out, and unlike Barry O. I don’t think he would make too many promises he had no intention of keeping. What balks me about him is his track record of wanting to legislate morality. The legislation of morality is at best hypocritical and impractical, and at worst, tyrannical. Moral codes are personal determinations of right and wrong the individual applies to their life; codifying “social conservatism” is a cheap ploy aimed at those whose understanding of politics and human nature is limited to muttering “There ought to be a law…”

People are gonna do what they’re gonna do. As Queen Victoria said when asked about the Oscar Wilde homosexual scandal: “I don’t care what people do, as long as they don’t do it in the road and frighten the horses.” I would hope Senator Santorum gathers a clue from the poster girl for prim and proper behavior before he tries his luck again in 2016. I worry that he would become seduced with power and distracted by the opportunity to dictate behavior instead of concentrating on the economic and security issues that are killing us today. He has no chance this time around, and is off the table in my book.

I admire and respect Ron Paul for his strict adherence to old-school Libertarian principles. Those tenets have been the bedrock of my personal philosophy and the way I have regarded all things political for most of my adult life. The one thing Dr. Paul is missing is the essential requirement that a Rational Objectivist be pragmatic. When faced with a problem, it must be reverse-engineered on the basis of cause-and-effect, and the least harmful solution must be implemented. While Ayn Rand’s isolationist assertions that we leave the rest of the world to perish by its own devices was a good post-modern idea, the world is too tightly wired for that to be an effective doctrine these days. Dr. Paul’s foreign policy seems to be based on a combination of wishful thinking about the goodwill and common sense of people who are likely possessed of neither. While Dr. Paul’s domestic policies make a lot of sense, he seems disdainful of the fact that there are entities in the world that seek nothing less than the total destruction of the United States, and will gladly sacrifice their own existence to accomplish that end. I like about 75% of what he says, but in order to flourish, we must first survive, and I’m reluctant to trust his faith that Islamic fanatics wouldn’t use a nuclear weapon if they possessed one. Ron Paul lacks the ruthlessness needed to exert America’s power when its judicious application is called for.

Then, there’s Newt. What can we say about this good ol’ boy? He has some of the best ideas, and possesses the political acumen to deal with the Washington establishment. He also carries a lot of personal baggage, has a frightening demeanor, and often embraces irresponsible notions without thinking them through. I see a lot of myself in him. If those people whose perceptions have been poisoned by the media could stop regarding him as the devil incarnate, he has a decent shot at the White House, and I don’t think he would do a bad job if elected. He projects strength and a no-nonsense intelligence, and that might be the nostrum America needs in uncertain times.

Finally, there’s Mitt Romney.

Back in the day, when I was setting out to buy a used car, I’d dress down in way-casual clothes, stick a large wad of cash in my pocket, and sally forth. I’d wander onto the lot and casually inspect anything that caught my eye. When the salesman oozed out of the office to make his spiel, I was very attentive to how he was regarding me. My tentative purchase was contingent on sincerity, honesty, and openness; not just the quality of the product in question. If they took me at face value and treated me like a bum, I was gone in a heartbeat. If they were too chummy—exuding oily charm on a hunch I might have some money to spend—I’d be out of there after a slightly longer interim. If they acted like they cared about what they were doing, and at least feigned concern that I, too, might benefit from a potential transaction, then we’d get into the negotiation.

Mitt Romney strikes me as a used car salesman, and not one I’d want to do business with. My impression is he’d do or say anything to close the deal, caring only about his commission, not whether I get a clunker or a smooth ride. I don’t demonize him for being a filthy-rich “vulture capitalist”; it’s precisely that kind of business know-how that’s needed to get us out of this economic recession. In coming days, much will be made of his unfortunate remark that he “doesn’t care much about the very poor.” It will be taken out of context and run endlessly in attack ads from Those People. However, in the context of what he was saying, he was exactly right. The poorest among us have the “safety net” he referred to, although it’s become very frayed by the reckless spending of Barry O. and his cronies. Romney’s religion doesn’t bother me; he’s a man of faith, and I don’t think that—like Santorum—he’d be seduced by the power of the presidency to promote social/moral agendas when there are so many other fish to be fried. Still, there is that element of cynicism that is very off-putting. I get the uneasy sense that he’s more concerned with obtaining power than he is with the proper exercise of that power.

So, I’m asking my Constant Readers for advice here. Granted, the four choices available are like the lesser Emperors of Rome’s declining days; there is no Augustus or Julius Caesar stepping up, nor is there a reincarnation of Ronald Reagan waiting in the wings. Who is a poor, ignorant country boy supposed to vote for?

Please don’t offer a cop-out platitude like “Vote your conscience” or “Follow your heart”. My conscience is with Ron Paul, my heart is with Newt, and my pragmatic inner cynic follows the nebulous “electability” factor and favors Romney. I’m fishing for justifications as to why I should vote for whoever you might suggest. All recommendations will be taken under serious consideration for the rest of February, but I have to have my ballot in the mail before 6 March.

And, as I said at the beginning of this post, this is only applicable to the presidential preference primary on Super Tuesday next month. Come November, I’m voting for the mangiest yellow dog that’ll get a chance to take a bite out of Barry O. No matter how corrupt, incompetent or unethical that individual may be, he can’t do a worse job than the total waste of protoplasm now occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia.

6 Comments:

Blogger camojack said...

It's probably going to be Romney, or at least that's what those "in the know" keep saying.

I like Newt for a lot of reasons, although (like yourself) I'm none too keen on some of his previous policy statements.

I'd vote for your dog before ever contemplating a vote for the current Fraud-in Chief.

Vote your heart then, for Newt; by the time the primary is held in my State the nominee will basically be a foregone conclusion anyhow...

February 03, 2012 3:58 AM  
Blogger Robert B. Webb said...

Lupe the Wonder Dog is part of the 1%...she's spoiled, lazy, and only cares where her next treat is coming from. Come to think of it, she does qualify as a Wall Street occupier on that basis; if I leave the room, she'll occupy my chair before the cushion cools off.

February 03, 2012 5:10 AM  
Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Hey Possum,

I think most of us are in the same quandary. What to do, what to do, what to do? I can't tell you how to vote, but here's how I look at it...

Romney is a total sleaze bag. Perhaps a very polite Mormon sleaze bag with good hair, but a sleaze bag nonetheless. He'll tell you anything you want to hear. When he ran for governor in a blue state, he was a Pro-choice, "Progressive" Republican who implemented a socialist health care plan that included an unconstitutional mandate to buy insurance or pay a penalty. What's the difference between that and Obamacare? Nuttin' honey. We have a "Liar-in-Chief" now, we don't need a GOP version.

I like Ron Paul's domestic agenda too. If I were running for President, I would continually tell people that if elected, I would put Paul in charge of the Federal Reserve... so he could expose and dismantle it. I'd also put him in charge of "cutting $1 trillion out of the Federal budget" as he keeps promising.

But like you, I think that Ron Paul lives in a different time-space continuum when it comes to foreign policy. His approach is not merely questionable, it's downright Twilight Zone! From a guy who claims to be a strict Constitutionalist, he is even more isolationist than our Founding Fathers for cryin' out loud.

If Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Constitution, could launch the First Barbary War (1801–1805), between the United States and the Northwest African Berber Muslim states known collectively as the Barbary States [Tripoli and Algiers], then how could this "dufus" suggest that it's unconstitutional to retaliate militarily against people who have already killed over 3,000 Americans? Need I say it? He's an IDIOT!!

No, let me rephrase that: He's a conscientious objector. He's worse than an Amish, Mennonite, anti-war, pacifist. He's an appeaser. He's worse than Neville Chamberlain. And in our day and age, that is simply unacceptable. If it was unacceptable for Thomas Jefferson, it cannot be acceptable for us.

As for Rick Santorum, he's probably the most conservative of the bunch. I don't have the reservations that you do, when it comes to legislating morality. I think he's a smart enough guy to know that you're not going to turn 21st century America into Victorian England.

February 03, 2012 11:21 PM  
Blogger Hawkeye® said...

(continued)

However, the problem I have with Santorum is that he often comes off as a complainer and a whiner. "I'm the best. Romney did this. Newt did that. Paul is scary." And that's not good. Nobody wants a complainer-in-chief on their TV for the next 4 years. They're looking for someone like Reagan: bold, heroic, charismatic, down-to-earth, plain spoken, able to call a spade a spade, the "great communicator", etc.

In other words, don't complain... just tell me what the problem is and then tell me what the solution is. Reagan said it best: the problem is "the government", and the solution is "less government" -- end of story. People can connect with that.

That's why I'm down to Newt Gingrich. And frankly, I have only recently come around to him as the best possible alternative. I've been getting (and ignoring) Newt's e-mails for months. Newt can come off as a intellectual snob who can't connect with the common man. And that's his biggest weakness.

But he's smart. He knows his history. And he can hold his own in a debate. He can make Obama look like John King when he's on his game. He can be aggressive. And that's what I think the GOP needs to do... Take it to the 'MAN'. Shove it in his face! Show him the stats and proclaim it to the people.

We've had enough "namby-pamby" candidates like John McCain who worry about the "independent" vote, and "reaching across the aisle". We need somebody to stand up and say: "This is where I draw the line... I dare you to cross it."

I think Newt could do that. Don't know if he will, but he could. To me, he seems like the best chance to give BHO a run for his money.

But that"s just me.

(:D) Best regards...

February 03, 2012 11:22 PM  
Blogger Beerme said...

Well, like you I am dissatisfied with the entire group. Unlike you, I am almost completely dissatisfied with the entire group. None of them appear to have the slightest chance of winning a race against Barack Hussein Obama, a complete failure of immense proportions! Is this not an amazing situation?

Mitt IS a used car salesman, and he probably has nearly the same moralist tendencies as Santorum. He simply hides them because he knows they won't help.

Newt is also drunk with the pursuit of power and will say whatever he thinks will work. He has been working his own brand of candidacy since the before the last election, building up to this moment (and what a moment it has turned out to be!). How does a conservative embrace climate change agendas with San Fran Nan, or promote Dede Scozzafava against the better instincts of the Tea Party and any measure of common sense?

Ron Paul is a pretty sound libertarian in record but his baggage would include his racist newsletters and his inability to properly explain his foreign policy ideals in a post-9/11 US. As an aside, I would argue that none of these conservative candidates will even admit that the military budget should be restrained, much less cut, for fear of seeming soft on terrorism. That should disqualify them all from consideration, as the military budget is clearly too high and should be cut, by almost anyone's measure.

My point, here, is to say that no candidate that really should receive your vote has made it onto the national stage. This is all the more amazing (and disheartening) since, the stakes are so high and the opposition so weak. If people showed the Republican Party that they are willing to vote for a non-party candidate, they MIGHT begin to get the message (see Dede Scozzafava reference above, where the party preferred a liberal R against a conservative I. The liberal R lost and endorsed a D...).

Ron Paul's presence in the last two elections-and his mystifying support by millions of enthusiastic youngsters-has done more to bring the Republican Party into sensible viewpoints than anything I can remember. Who would imagine any of these candidates talking against the Federal Reserve before RP made it fashionable?

The candidate I support is the candidate I agree with on almost every issue. I will always vote for the candidate that most represents my views, party and opposition be damned!

I'll wait to see how Romney behaves during the run up to election day but I don't think I can vote for him, even against BO. I am probably voting for Gary Johnson, as the Libertarian Party candidate. Yes, I know that my vote may assist Obama's second term. Perhaps that will catapult all of us into a "see-the-real-world" pov and make it possible for the elevation of good candidates onto the national stage. Or not...

February 04, 2012 11:16 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Well, guys, tonight I'm even more befuddled, since Santorum has won Minnesota and Missouri, and looks like he'll take Colorado. WTF?

Beerme: I like Gary Johnson, and look for greater things from him in the future. Like you, I consider a candidate's ability and philosophy, not some hide-bound party ideology. I call myself a Libertarian as a shorthand way of defining what I believe in, but I completely broke with the established party in '08 when they endorsed Bob Barr as their nominee. I had personal dealings with Barr in the '80s, and he is a sleazy scumbag. (Ya, and maybe my saying that is libel; so, he should sue me. It wouldn't be the first time I faced him in a courtroom.)

I have a horribly uneasy feeling that we're going to lose, and unless someone calls my $100 bet, I'm considering taking it off the table before November. (The "we" referenced above being everyone who will be voting against Barry O. rather than for a candidate based on his merit.)

I pretty much know who I'll be voting for in the primary, and will reveal it on Super Tuesday, but I still haven't inked in the little oval on my ballot. Things can change dramatically in the next two-three weeks, so I'm waiting until the last minute to mail my ballot back in.

Thanks for your comments, gang. They're all food for thought, and some of the best in the history of this little blog. We're all basically on the same page of music, so when the time comes, I guess I'll fish out the lucky Krugerrand and flip it like George Raft...then peel off my tin foil hat and vote for whoever the voices in my head tell me to.

February 07, 2012 11:51 PM  

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