On the GOP field, part two.

An anonymous reader recently asked: “What is your honest opinion of each of the GOP candidates for president?” Last week I wrote about seven of the nine major Republican candidates before succumbing to a massive headache. Here’s my take on the last two, in alphabetical order:

Gary Johnson: He has gubernatorial experience, he seems unassuming, and he has promised to veto any budget that is not balanced. Given that recent budgets have seen a 40-45% gap between revenues and expenditures, that promise may seem unrealistic. It is a sad sign of the times that the promise is unrealistic, and perhaps sadder that he’s the only one willing to make it. He’s got two big problems, aside from a near-total lack of name recognition. First, in recent interviews he has seemed exasperated that he wasn’t getting more attention and that he was being left out of the debates. No matter what the message is, exasperated won’t score any points. His second and larger problem is that there’s already a candidate who’s staked out the libertarian wing of the party, named…

Ron Paul: He’s got the name recognition he was missing last time around, he’s more consistent than the other Republicans, he’s energetic enough to overcome his age problems, and he (and current events) have made the Austrian school much more popular in recent years. The bad news is that he can come across as a wacky old man, nobody likes a Cassandra, and the electorate will find his foreign policy to be isolationist and unrealistic. The whole “being right about the recession” thing probably won’t be enough to get him the nomination.

They both have another problem: they keep talking about what government shouldn’t do. That’s generally not a good way to win nominations, never mind national elections.

Anyhow, right now I think that Romney’s the most likely to win the nomination. He’s doing well enough in the polls, he’s raised all kinds of money, and the GOP has a habit of nominating candidates who came close to winning earlier primaries (Nixon lost in 1960, Reagan lost in 1968 and 1976, Bush 41 and Dole lost in 1980, Bush 43 is an exception, but can be seen as a re-nomination of his dad, McCain lost in 2000, Romney lost in 2008). But the voting is still a few months away, and anything can happen.

22 thoughts on “On the GOP field, part two.

  1. It’s really a shame to me that Ron Paul has such a slim chance of winning the primary. Not only do I think he would have a very legitimate chance against Obama in the general election but I think a Ron Paul presidency would do a great deal to reverse the polarization of politics in this country because he is by no means a typical Republican.


  2. I agree with everything said in this post. But Gary Johnson has slowly been getting attention, especially after his Reddit question answers. Side note: As far as I know, he’s the only candidate who supports weeds legalization.


  3. Oh, warrant, you break my heart.

    Ron Paul is not a typical Republican? He’s pro-life, voted no several times on supporting stem cell research, voted yes on banning gay adoption, supports the abolishment of affirmative action, wants to close the department of education, voted no on allowing courts to decide whether ‘God’ should be mandatory in the pledge of allegiance, supports a constitutional amendment to support school prayer, voted yes on barring the EPA from regulating green house gases, voted no on enforcing limits to CO2 global warming pollution, voted no on tax incentives for renewable energy technology – energy conservation – and energy production, voted no on establishing a nation-wide Amber Alert system, is against US having a role in human rights violations around the world, against vaccinating young girls against HPV, supports removing birth right citizenship …. I could go on, and on, and on.

    The only thing that even vaguely strays from your typical GOP candidate is that he has hipster kids wearing $80 flannel and drinking PBR supporting him to be ironic. Aside from that, his stance on legalization (take note, Reagan) and his disapproval of actual President Reagan economics are probably the only fact-based support one could give that he’s not your typical Republican.


  4. Paul is definitely my favorite for GOP candidate. I love his energy and passion when he gets into what he talks about. I love his libertarian views. It’s really wrong how the media gives him no coverage. I believe that they’re all scared of the actual change that Ron Paul would make if he became president. If he doesn’t win and instead ends up as running for the libertarian party I believe he could possibly cost the Republican nominee the votes he would need to win. He would be the Republican nominees Ralph Nader.

    PS. Pres. Reagan(Retired): Doctor Paul is for ending the war on drugs and decriminalization of them. I’m not sure about legalization.


  5. I like both Johnson and Paul. I think Johnson is a lot more winnable, and the media clearly hates him as he has yet to be invited to a debate (as far as I know). Yet out of all the candidates, Johnson was the most successful out of the Governors. However, I have a feeling Johnson will become the VP candidate.


  6. @Blonde: It is very safe to say that Ron Paul is not a typical Republican. Here’s a few reasons:

    1. His foreign policy positions are far more isolationist than those of typical Republicans. He voted against the Iraq War, he votes against free trade deals, he votes against foreign aid to anybody, etc.

    2. He endorses cuts in taxation and spending far beyond what the Republicans typically endorse. The Ryan plan claims to balance the budget in a few decades– Paul voted against the Ryan plan and wants to balance the budget in three years.

    3. Would a typical Republican have run for President as a Libertarian in Reagan’s wake in 1988? Would a typical Republican have present-day Libertarians asking him to seek their nomination?

    4. It’s hard to call a guy a typical party member when he’s often on the losing end of a lot of four-hundred-something-to-one votes.

    Granted, my list is short, but those four items are enough to cause most Republicans to look at him like he’s a lunatic who is trying to lose elections. It is true that he’s bound to have a lot in common with Republicans, just like Dennis Kucinich has a lot in common with Democrats, but it’s very safe to say that neither of them is in the mainstream of his party.


  7. I still disagree. You’re right – your list is very short. But you can find a lot of party members who occasionally stray from the traditional confines of their party. I think that his voting record in and of itself is proof that he’s really not that different than your average Republican. At all.

    I will concede that some of his economic plans stray unusually far from the average Republican candidate. But extremism is becoming more and more popular for the GOP recently. And libertarianism is blending into conservatism. Turn on FOX News amp; listen to demands for smaller government, or no government (but don’t call it anarchy).

    And as for your argument that he’s been on the losing end, so he must not be a typical Republican… Well, my father is a typical Republican, and I can guarantee no one would elect him, either.

    The strongest point you made was his position on foreign policy, which I must admit that I somewhat graced over in my list. I’m not sure how to categorize that. I actually agree with him on a lot of his opinions regarding this area. We are disliked in the Middle East because of our foreign policy and not because they’re somehow jealous of our values or lifestyle. We give unbelievable preferential treatment to Israel and support the oppression of Palestine, only furthering public opinion that we are anti-Arab. And if we didn’t want terrorist organizations, maybe we shouldn’t have funded them and trained them to use against the Soviets. We support dictatorship as long as they’re loyal allies to us and Israel (Hello, Mubarak), but strictly oppose it when they’re not. However, I disagree with his opposition to foreign aid on all accounts. While the U.N. should step in and ensure that foreign aid money is used properly and by non-corrupt governments, I think it would be a shame to abandon the practice all together. Kind of like dismantling welfare because there are abusers of the system.

    Either way, he’s a Republican. Republican Republican Republican. He might not have seen eye to eye with Reagan or Bush, but he still quacks like a duck and looks like a duck to me.


  8. Blonde/Brunette: The only reason a libertarian is a Republican is because having a 3 party system would insure leftist America would have their ideology thrust down our throats.


  9. The way I see it at least full on Libertarians are pretty leftist in respect to certain issues. I don’t think it’s fair to say that a Libertarian leader would prevent “leftist” ideology from proliferating. On a significant number of issues quite the opposite would occur.


  10. @ the warrant
    I’m not sure I follow your thinking as far as Libertarians and Liberals go. A libertarian wants a smaller national government with very limited powers. That would mean getting rid of most, if not all, of the social and economic programs already in place. As far as I know, most liberals want a larger government with more control and more programs.


  11. WDE – Conservatism and Libertarianism blend much more intricately than the simplistic view of our two party system. If you study them from an on-paper perspective, differences in social politics arise. Libertarians are much more open to social issues (Abortion, religion, homosexuality, drug legalization, etc.) than are the GOP, but fiscally they typically see eye-to-eye, and often their views of foreign affair can match up, as you can encounter both strong military and strong isolationist views in both.

    I would almost go so far as to argue that Libertarianism is simply a branch to the left of conservatism, particularly when you study them from a perspective of today’s politics. Both are opposed to governmental regulation, including but not limited to environmental & corporate business. It also should not be ignored that the driving forces behind them are affluent, powerful, male, and caucasian. I would not, however, generalize either of them as being racist, nor would I say they are inherently sexist. But one should examine and question the motivations behind them. If you’re a corporate overlord, making your profits from lax regulations which may harm others (whether it be labor laws, the lack of trickle down, or environmental degradation), it is both logical and rational to protect your ability to make profit by proclaiming that governmental regulation is inhibiting economic prosperity for the entire country, and using the government as a scapegoat for the financial problems that grass-roots people, your consumers, may have. Is it true? Probably and probably not, simultaneously. We are a generation of instant-gratification. We see profit as positive, with no regard for what the effects could be in the future. We also sometimes fail to see that while a political party created and driven by corporate superpowers can harm our average selves, while bettering the elite. Cattle driven to slaughter under the belief that our herders are leading us to greener pastures.

    A look on our history as a country, not even taking into account the experiences of other states, is enough to show that times wherein the government did not play a significant role in regulations resulted in imperative issues of monopoly, unbalanced classes, and fiscal disaster save for a select few. I’m not advocating an unregulated regulatory government – Rather, a strong government regulating corporations while being regulated by Americans, average Americans, and not the elite.

    I’m digressing. The blend of libertarianism and conservatism is a modern evolution to meet the demands of the frustrations of nearly half of our population. It goes much farther and is much more complex than simply joining ranks for the sake of party survival.

    Warrant – I agree. As aforementioned, Libertarians are much more open to social issues. I think (speculatively), that in an ideal Libertarian world, most social issues such as abortion, homosexuality, drugs, etc, would be left up to the individual states. However, we are a country, and I think it’s important to have a strong federal stance of social issues to maintain a national opinion. Other countries see us and generalize – “The United States is for/against such & such”, and not “Oh, well Florida is against same-sex marriage, but New York is for it.”, etc. And when it comes to the Libertarian Posterboy – Paul, well, he’s rather conservative when it comes to social issues, furthering my argument that he’s fitting into GOP standards, and leaning away from the traditional moderate leanings of Libertarians in regard to that area.

    Warrant shared this with me : http://www.people-press.org/typology/quiz/ – And I thought it would interest the followers of the blog, and maybe even the Master himself. Also, I’m sure against all of your guesses, I am a post-modern, and not a liberal ;).

    I apologize for the incredibly elongated post – but there’s no better procrastination of writing a term paper on the Arab-Israeli conflict than political banter.


  12. Well looking at Ron Paul’s thoughts on the two primary social conflicts, gay-marriage and abortion, he is split 50:50, so Blonde is right on the front of Paul being more right than left. (Just because I support Paul does not mean support his stance on these particular views)
    Paul’s stances:
    Life starts at conception
    Gay Marriage is a moot point because marriage is a religious sacrament, thus the government shouldn’t get involved on that front. (Although his personal beliefs oppose gay-marriage)


  13. @Blonde: my list is short because, once again, it covers a lot of ground. Poli sci folks occasionally talk about the three-legged stool of the Republican Party: hawks, economic conservatives, and social conservatives. Well, Ron Paul chopped off one leg of the stool (he makes doves look like bloodthirsty maniacs), made another leg abnormally large (he wants to fund the federal government at about one-tenth its current size via tariffs and user fees), and drilled holes in the third (he’s staunchly anti-abortion, but he favors drug decriminalization and is calling for government to deregulate marriage).

    Now, it is still a stool, just like Ron Paul is still a Republican. But, again, most folks wouldn’t call it a typical stool.

    Can you name an atypical Republican, assuming Ron Paul isn’t one? Can you name an atypical Democrat?

    (By the way, your comment on monopoly comment warrants a post-length response, which is a pretty good indicator that it was wrong.)


  14. Whoa whoa, you can’t just throw that in there with your parentheses and what not. How does lack of government regulations not add up to corporate monopolies, historically?

    As for dear Ronald, I just think that the majority of his voting record would suggest a stool of more recognizable proportion than what his words might. But I suppose you make a good point; there aren’t many candidates in the spotlight that are less typical than Ron… although…

    I’m going to regret going here. I would almost argue Romney’s support of a “socialized” healthcare system in Massachusetts is a lot more deserving of the title of an atypical Republican. Granted, he doesn’t have the backbone to openly support anything that individual audiences don’t support, which makes him a typical politician, but, you know, for arguments sake.


  15. @ Brunette:

    “times wherein the government did not play a significant role in regulations resulted in imperative issues of monopoly”

    You will probably find me to be quite absurd, but I would be willing to propose that increased government involvement and regulation has INCREASED the number of monopolies. Consider first the historical number of government created monopolies: Postal System, Public Utilities (JEA in Jax), telecommunications (When AT&T ruled “Ma-Bell”), Money Creation (FED)…the list goes on. But, on a much broader scale, consider how government’s involvement in patents and copyrights have decreased competition. When companies, such as those in the Drug or PC industry start asking for government for protectionism, they become bloated. Indeed, the risk of monopolization increases because government regulation prevents others from building off the work of their predecessors. When the PC industry first began developing, hardly anybody filed for copyrights or patents. The industry was moving so quickly, everyone was building off each other, and competition was so great that, the costs of purchasing and defending a C/P were not worth it. However, as time went on, innovation became more expensive and it became worthwhile to “dig in your heals” and prevent others from continuing to compete. Sadly (IMO), government assisted. And that leads us to an industry with relatively few competitors. I mean, aside from Linux, Apple, and Windows, what is there? More could be said (and probably said in a more coherent manner than I presented) but that’s all for now. Food for thought…


  16. @Doctor Hmnahmna:

    Oh, I completely agree. But I think the evolution of political parties is something to be considered, and in that spirit Romney would be an atypical republican, based on the previous argument.


    That is interesting, thank you. An argument I would certainly take for consideration. But I think there are a few issues with it, though I concede that I am no expert and thus there may be issues with my own argument.

    Firstly, the definition of a monopoly is the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service. Thus any competition, no matter how limited, could be argued as a negation of the term. There will always be natural monopolies, even with government regulation, but I can’t think of an example where there exists absolute monopolies under government regulation, at least in a comparative sense (government regulation vs. lack there of). Free markets work much like natural selection, and it tends to maximize profits of the powerful while extinguishing competition.

    I’m not educated enough on the topic to declare an outright no-capitalism approach, but I think unregulated capitalism does not work. Unregulated capitalism depends on the concept that people are rational with regard to money management and purchasing. But this doesn’t happen, people are emotional and irrational with regard to economics and it’s in part why the market crashed in 2008. It’s why people don’t save. It’s why we need economic regulation for capitalism to function at its highest capacity. Simply put, people don’t correctly calculate value and self-interest and entire markets fail to as well.

    I’m still waiting for the explanation of VDV’s need to whip out the W word.


  17. “(B)ut I can’t think of an example where there exists absolute monopolies under government regulation.”

    How about Ma Bell?


  18. Blonde, I don’t want to sound mean, but the more you write about econ, the wronger you get… and the more I have to rebut in my response… and the longer it takes for me to publish it. Please reserve further comments (about econ) until I get the next post published.


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