Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be

GOP 2012: Running for the Sidelines, Not the White House

Running for the Sidelines, Not the White House

Most of the “GOP hopefuls” know that they do not have a hope in hell of winning. So why do it?  The label “Republican Candidate” is a rhetorical gold mine where the chosen few can spend years making millions in hollow speeches, book deals, radio talk shows, and at the Conservative’s Cabal and choice cash cow, Fox News.

They’re rounding up the usual suspects: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul. Mike “I don’t believe in evolution” Huckabee is testing the waters. Soon Sarah will throw her cloddish chapeau into the ring.

Herman Cain is the Nowhere Man, who didn’t even pass muster for a Georgia senate primary.  New Mexico governor Gary Johnson ran government in ways that general election voters might like, but his pro legalization of marijuana is a non-starter for the hard-righties in the primaries.

With the possible exception of Dr. Paul, who has ingested enough of his own Kool Aid to really think that he could be president, most of these wannabees are faux candidates.

Gingrich and Giuliani are also considering a shot at the prize again. Both have huge negatives.  Both have three ex-wives. Not a plus for the Moral Minority.  Gingrich was censured by Congress as Speaker and had to step down after a $300K fine. Giuliani’s ease and familiarity with the New York LGBT community also sticks in the Holier-Than-Thou crowd’s craw.

Ironically Mitt Romney, the Mormon, has only one wife, but his two faces and two left feet keep tripping him up.  Romney gave one of the most passionate and intelligent arguments for the very health care mandate that his fellow Republicans are trying to strike down in half a dozen states.

He tries to pass it off as if the mandate is a “state” decision, but what’s good for the state government in enforcement mechanisms is still allowable by the Feds under the 16th Amendment. That amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court time and again to allow Congress fairly broad taxation authority that even allows them to draw that mandatory money out of your paycheck for Medicare and Social Security monthly that Republicans get so many disgruntled low-level white and blue collar workers worked up about.

All of these so-called candidates know that they have sizable negatives which, even if the hard-cores can ignore through the primaries, will eat them alive in a general election.

Yet they pander to these hardcores to the point that they cannot run in the general election to win with most of the extreme positions that they have to take to make it out of the primary.

These extremist politics work up to the state gubanatorial level, but they don’t fly in a Presidential election.  You can fool some of the people some of the time, but garnering enough voting zealots and lunatics in the big 5-0 is a hard thing to pull off. Ask John McCain. He did everything short of donning Civil War attire and yelling ‘CHARGE!’ to get angry white Southern voters to turn out against Mr. Obama, and still, its was not enough.

Candidate name recognition is big money.  These folks make millions whipping up the extremist elements of the Republican base into a frothy frenzy that sells hard-right books and talk and Tea Party angst-fests.

There is a whole industry that has become as deep and enmeshed in post-Reagan Republican politics. The Fear Machine sells fear in 31 flavors: White power fear; Wall Street fear; Immigrant fear; Big government fear; Failing America fear; Jobs fear; LGBT fear; Science fear.

A recent poll conducted by Bloomberg News on who did a better job against terrorism, Bush or Obama, found that people favored President Obama 40-29.  The telling part about this global poll of businesspeople, though, was this:

“By 54 percent to 26 percent, investors in the U.S. questioned in the poll give Bush, a Republican, better marks than the current occupant of the White House, a Democrat, for fighting terrorism.”

There are a lot of well-educated, willfully ignorant people that have been so primed by the Fear Machine that no matter what anyone on the other side of the aisle does, they will not see the forest for the trees.  The number is stark because that same number polled of very conservative businesspeople outside of  the U.S. is 48-16 in favor of Obama. That’s almost a 60 point swing from domestic Righties to International Righties who don’t get a steady diet of the media manure that Fox News and various radio outlets serve up 24/7.

They’re also quietly good at stoking hate.  Obama the Kenyan.  Politicians who should know better stoking the Birther fears for months, years, after the McCain campaign started bugling the white wagons to circle in preparation for the minority majority.

This is not the America that generations of Republican stalwarts, from Barry Goldwater to Abraham Lincoln and beyond, wanted.

The Republican Party is afflicted with these cancerous boils who drain millions out of every election cycle to insure that they will get the attention that they need to keep their cushy gigs taking sixteen foot long pikes and barbing the public into fear frenzies that sell their snake oil.

Sarah Palin wants her ongoing freak show to dominate the news and keep her at prime dollar on the stump and on TV.  Newt needs to make sure that his think-tank biz, his foundation biz, and his pricey speech-making biz remain relevant after more than a decade of rotten rhetoric.  Huckabee may be successful enough with his comment and dissent to make his dysentery (thank you Woody Allen) marketable enough that he may not need to go through the GOP beauty pageant to stoke it up.

None of these people, who make millions more than they would as President, want to give up all that cush for the headache of actually having to govern.

We talk about lobbying reform. I think that there also needs to be political party reform.  Just because the First Amendment protects the rights of these folks to go on TV and write books does not mean that it is ethical or moral for them to do so. You can’t make a law that keeps these people off of Fox and out of the junk book market, and off Radical radio.  You don’t see a ton of ex-Democratic hopefuls in the punditry biz, although a few sell a book here or there.

On the other hand, the parties can and should bar those who are merely trying to cash in on the primary process.  Presidential candidate should be a job pathway. Someone, somehow, has to make radicalizing the opinion stream by politicians unprofitable or at the very least unpalatable.

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

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