Choosing our own candidate, what a concept
By Frank Salvato
As we approach the true beginning of the 2012 election cycle, the Republican slate of candidates is starting to take shape. Many among those who count themselves as Republicans hold great hope that 2012 will bring to an end a four year reign of irresponsible spending on social engineering issues that -- if not by design, almost certainly on purpose -- has led our country to a place of fiscal insolvency, national insecurity and diminished stature around the world. But regardless of who finally rounds out the slate of Conservative, Constitutionalist, Libertarian-leaning and Republican candidates in the official Republican field, we are still hobbled by a primary election process that frontloads the results to the Democrat and Progressive advantage.
Each year, the many candidates that vie for a position on the slates of the challenging parties to the incumbent party spend a great amount of time in the states of Iowa and New Hampshire. This reality includes any potential Republican and/or Conservative candidates, and yes there is a difference. But this reality, the reality of the cyclical trek to these two states begs a question, exclusively for those who stand opposed to the expansion of government, the decline of the Constitution and American sovereignty, and the advancement of Progressivism:
Why do Conservatives vying for the GOP nomination subject themselves, the party and the GOP constituency to the results, before all others, from two states that have traditionally voted for the Democrat in a majority of the presidential contests of the 20th and 21st Centuries? How does that divine the best candidate for the Republican Party?
Since 1988, Iowa has voted for the Democrat candidate in the Presidential Election by a margin of 5 to 1, the lone exception being in 2004 when they voted for George w, Bush, the attacks of September 11, 2001, still fresh in their minds. But that means that, minus the motivation of an attack on our homeland, they voted for Barack Obama, Al Gore, Bill Clinton -- twice -- and Michael Dukakis...Michael Dukakis!
New Hampshire is but a scant bit better, voting for the Democrat 4 to 1 since 1992, championing the likes of Barack Obama, John Kerry and Bill Clinton twice.
So, again I ask, why does the Republican National Committee continue to reward Blue states with undeniable influence in determining who the Republican candidate will be in the General Election by allowing them to establish the frontrunners for the GOP? Does this make any sense?
Part of the problem, I suspect, is that the establishmentarians of the national Republic Party hierarchy do not appreciate the peon voters dictating to them who the candidates will or will not be. The inside-the-beltway Republican leadership -- and many times the many state Republican leadership apparatuses as well -- are ensconced in the "pecking order" mindset; the "it's his turn," quid pro quo tenets of "good old boy" politics.
This in and of itself is a shame and it should cause great angst among true Conservatives and true Republicans.
The Republican Party was not set-up to mirror the Democrat Party apparatus. The Democrat Party apparatus is set-up to be a top-down, authoritative organization that presents candidates to its constituent masses for approval. The Democrats "create" their candidates, ala Dr. Frankenstein, pardon the dramatic reference (but if the shoe fits...). They search out the candidate that best represents the most special interest groups -- or in recent years, best panders to special interest groups -- and package him via Madison Avenue, talking points and all, to be canonized by the Democrat rank-and-file. If he is Progressive underneath the veneer that's all the better.
Republicans, on the other hand, were set-up to be a true grassroots political organization; one whose power emanates from the people to those who represent the people. The Republican Party, by virtue of its charter of 1856, is a bottom-up organization, the complete opposite of the top-down organization of the Democrat Party. It is contradictory to have an all powerful GOP national hierarchy when the party is supposed to stand for limited government; for individual liberty and self-reliance. Yet, throughout the latter part of the 20th Century the national Republican Party, along with its inside-the-beltway cronies, have decided amongst themselves whose "turn it is," dictating who the candidates will be to the peons of the party.
When one couples this with the ridiculous acquiescence to allowing Blue states to decide the initial primaries for the Republican constituency it is no wonder Conservatives haven't had a string of truly representative candidates to champion in recent General Elections.
Can it be any wonder that the TEA Party Movement is scaring the daylights out of the Republican establishment political apparatus and the beltway insiders? It's a true and honest grassroots movement that doesn't sign on to the fallacy that only a former governor can win national elections or that Congressmen can't win national elections. The TEA Party Movement has hit that reset button, the one protected under bulletproof glass by the anointed Republican Party leaders so afraid of losing power and influence; so afraid of losing the perks that come with the positions; so afraid of losing it all.
The odd thing in all of this is that it doesn't have to be this way. The national Republican Party leaders could come out of this mess standing and applauded as heroes if they would only take the "elephant by the horns," kick the donkey in the ass and do the right thing and two immediate things come to mind.
First, they need to stop mandating "whose turn it is" where the nomination process is concerned and they need to start listening to the rumble in the ground. Who is successfully breaking all the rules on the local, county and state levels? Who among the grassroots is successfully delivering "the message," as it relates to the original party platform: protection of the Charters of Freedom, states' rights, pro-Second Amendment doctrine, the right to due process, protection from government over-reach, protection of the First Amendment Right to free speech and limited government, to name the core set.
But secondly, and equally as important, if not more so in the short term, the national Republican Party leaders must -- must -- take control of the GOP primary election process to frontload the field with candidates who have tested the electoral fires of staunchly Red states, not Blue states. Setting up primaries so that states like South Carolina (Red since 1964 with the exception of one election), Texas (Red since 1972 with the exception of one election) and Alabama (Red since 1964 with the exception of two elections) can exert Conservative influence on the Republican slate makes infinitely more sense than allowing Iowa and New Hampshire to do so.
Further, by titrating the primary date schedule to Republican vote total performance in the previous General Election cycle, the national party organization would be providing a natural incentive for the state organizations to consistently refine their operations so as to out-perform not only the other state Republican organizations, but to increase their performance over the previous years. That incentive puts more importance on the message, on convincing and educating voters -- Republican, Independent and Democrat, Conservative and Liberal alike -- and moves the parties dependence on special interest to the sidelines while cultivating new candidates and leaders for our the party and for country. It also purges the "go-along-to-get-along," "let's compromise to stay in power" RINO Republicans from the ranks...and it's about time.
I have been watching as the current slate of Republican hopefuls takes shape and I have to say, but for a very few -- and aside from my sincere hope that US Sen. Jim DeMint chooses to answer the call to destiny in entering the race -- the field is, much to the contrary of what Sean Hannity insists, weak at best. What we need is a strong, honest and open primary season where the candidates honestly and without pre-packaged talking points debate the issues, let the pieces fall where they may. But that is impossible when the Liberals and Progressives are calling the contests; it is impossible when the primary battleground is in the enemy camp (yes, I used a war term, so sue me).
It's time for the bare-knuckle free-for-all that should be the Republican primaries. Let the true Red states decide...
But then, and this is most important, once the candidate is chosen, once the results are in and the candidate has been selected, we cannot -- cannot -- fracture. We Conservatives must refrain from being litmus test egotists who simply must have our way; else we exit the stage, or worse yet, factionalize into a third party. Those notions are sheer stupidity, lacking in vision, and dooming us to loss. History proves this out.
So, do Conservatives, Constitutionalists, Libertarian-leaning Republicans and rank-and-file Republicans have the will to battle it out in the primaries but remain cohesive in the General Elections? Does the Republican establishment hierarchy have the courage to put their egos aside to do what is right for the party and for the country?
The answer will determine whether the nation survives.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for BasicsProject.org a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera's Listening Post and on Russia Today. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Phoenix Broadcasting Network and on NetTalkWorld Global Talk Radio catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. Mr. Salvato is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the USA Radio Network. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events, BigGovernment.com and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.