As an advocate for secular republicanism, none of the 2012 presidential candidates are acceptable. Each candidate, including the President, who has indicated that he intends to run for re-election, fails to grasp, ignores, or explicitly opposes individual rights, capitalism and a rational foreign and domestic policy. But, unless we suffer a catastrophic attack or descend into anarchy or civil war before November of 2012, someone will be elected president of the United States. So, after watching tonight’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, sponsored by the generic Cable News Network (CNN), with its snickering media celebrity moderator, Anderson Cooper, I’ve decided to update my take on the 2012 Republicans. My criteria for serious candidates: who will be the least opposed to individual rights?
My first summary was posted in August, before businessman Herman Cain was a factor in the campaign. Whatever the merits of Mr. Cain’s candidacy, and I have reached out to his campaign and requested an interview with the talk radio host, he is defined by his 9-9-9 tax reform plan and I must say those three digits represent a more honest effort at solving the nation’s urgent and severe economic problems than all three years of the Obama administration’s schemes combined. From my perspective, he is certainly flawed and he makes mistakes. I’m reading his new book, This is Herman Cain! but I already know that he opposes a woman’s right to an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, and he supported government controls of economics such as the Bush administration’s so-called Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and other interventions. He has praised former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, serious errors in judgment, and in tonight’s debate he made a Main Street vs. Wall Street distinction which evokes class warfare, pitches a false dichotomy (which an opponent exploited in reply) and alienates potential donors. The populist line diminishes the record of achievements in Mr. Cain’s business and government experience when he ought to be demonstrating an understanding of finance and economics and proving that he’s capable of defending Wall Street (and capitalism) against New Leftists. Herman Cain should ditch the Main Street vs. Wall Street differentiation and proudly wear the pro-capitalist badge, which fits his ‘happy warrior’ persona. Mr. Cain is generally pro-capitalist, as far as he understands capitalism, and he’s apparently decent on foreign policy. He is also gaining experience in campaigning. When he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier today that he would consider trading so-called hostages for Islamic combatants, he took it back in a post-debate interview on the same network. This candor is what propels Herman Cain, whom polls show is within striking distance of presumed frontrunner Mitt Romney and capable of winning victory over Barack Obama. Despite his drawbacks, and because he seems sincerely committed to fighting jihadist Islam and repealing ObamaCare, I might vote for Herman Cain.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a conservative religionist first elected in the wake of the defeat of the Clinton health care plan in the 1990s, serves a constructive function in the debates as foil to major candidates. He has some good lines, especially on Iran and jihadism, and he once advocated Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) but otherwise his record is abysmal on rights and capitalism and he insists that the nation is based on faith, family and tradition, so he is an advocate of theocracy and deserves no further consideration. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who adopts a kind of robotic approach to public speaking, has the same problem. She’s good on certain issues, such as her steadfast opposition to socialized medicine (ObamaCare), but she does not follow reason. Like Santorum, and all the major candidates (including Obama), she has no consistent, coherent political philosophy and she take facts on faith. Bachmann’s thinking is seriously impaired. Ditto for Newt Gingrich, a true has-been legislator with a bankrupt philosophy whose time came and went with not a single major accomplishment; as Speaker of the House following an historic House victory after Americans roundly rejected the Clinton health care plan in 1994, Gingrich, heavily hyped by conservatives and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, fully squandered the opportunity to slay Big Government. Mitt Romney was right to point out in the debate Gingrich’s hypocrisy on health care reform, as Gingrich has consistently supported and advanced government intervention in medicine. The narcissistic Baby Boomer, another conservative religionist who proposed faith and prayer as the primary presidential prerequisite in tonight’s debate, is not to be trusted to do anything positive.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who prays and deprives himself of food as a means of governing, is a bully and it showed in the debate. He was shockingly condescending to Mr. Cain, belligerent to others, and I don’t have much to add to what I said about him in August. He is the most anti-intellectual candidate. His sparring partner, Mitt Romney, is a slick, pompous fraud who enacted the earliest incarnation of ObamaCare with the conservative Heritage Foundation, as I have pointed out on my blog (and as early as 2007 in a response to health policy analyst John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). It’s obvious that President Obama is destroying America. But Mitt Romney is not an advocate of capitalism. Speaking of going from bad to worse, there’s Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a rambling, anti-war, Christian libertarian who could win the election and ruin the country. Paul (and his son Rand) seeks to appease the nation’s jihadist enemy and combine the worst elements of various philosophies including the New Left, libertarianism and conservatism. He’s an anti-war hippie, an anti-American appeaser, an anti-abortion rights, anti-Israel, anti-capitalism mongrel mixture of nearly every rotten idea in the last century. His protege, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, whom I interviewed earlier this year, might be better, because he’s apparently a secular candidate for more capitalism, but he, too, goes batty on the issue of the war.
With maneuvering by states for early primaries, and widespread dissatisfaction among Republicans with the media, the establishment and the pre-ordained candidates, I think the campaign is active and wide open and, while I am not a political scientist, I see that it is possible under certain scenarios that the Grand Old Party’s nomination may go to the floor of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. These are ominous times and anything can happen: economic collapse, foreign invasion, catastrophic attack, assassination, dropouts, third party candidacies, backroom deals and more. The outcome of the 2012 presidential election will affect the nation at a crucial point in our history and the current field of Republican candidates offers more of the same failed policies and ideals. They are all contaminated and stained with the residue of a bankrupt philosophy, a stew of contradictory ideas, based on bad premises such as altruism and collectivism. Individually, most of the candidates do not think clearly, and whatever decent positions they hold are meaningless because they may be misapplied, tossed aside at the first test of reality, or abandoned in the name of faith, feelings or the spur of the moment. The GOP candidates do not offer what we desperately need: a consistent, bold and realistic vision for achieving a secular republic based on individual rights.