As a citizen and registered voter, I feel as beat up as the candidates this presidential primary season. While the Democratic party quietly polishes up for a re-election race, the Republican’s berated us with nearly two dozen “debates” before the first votes. Then the SuperPAC’s eviscerated each Republican candidate. While everyone has failings, I did not need these directed at me like projectile political vomit. Then, less than half way into the primary election season, Romney claims inevitable victory, Santorum stands for true values, Gingrich’s empire files for bankruptcy, and Paul lurks in the shadows. And, now, May 8th, West Virginia’s primary election is upon us. I take my civic duty seriously. How shall I vote?
Years ago, I recall a friend who was running for a local office saying that the election is won in the primary. I have voted in every election since I could register… That first presidential election offered Carter vs Reagan. West Virginia’s primaries allow you to vote only for the party to which you are registered. I am registered Republican, though the stalwarts would call me a RINO (Republican In Name Only).
My RINO status has less to do with my political opinions changing than shifts that have occurred over my 30 years of voting. I have always thought that less government is better than well-intended but poorly administered government programs and ever expanding mission-creep of bureaucracies. When I moved from CA to NYC, I went from being middle-of-the-road to a wildly conservative anti-government sort, in contrast to my bleeding-heart-liberal co-workers and friends. When I moved from NYC to VA, I became an NPR-progressive-feminist-gay-loving-Unitarian-minded guy. When I moved to WV, I realized that freedom of speech was risky business if you want to get along with your neighbors. At the same time the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, CATO institute (a.k.a. Koch brothers) and now TEA Party took over the Republican party. I have not changed much in my stance. If I became a RINO, it is because the Republican party has RETCHED (Republican Elections Taken Control-Hold by Extreme Directions).
But, my option to exercise my right and responsibility to vote is to select one of the willing candidates. Here is my analysis.
Gingrich: I discounted him as soon as I heard that he had filed to run. I did not like his conquest-and-destroy attitude in 1994. I was appalled at his moral hypocracy, when I heard that he was having an affair with an office staff member (whom he did eventually marry), while spearheading the muckraking of Clinton’s sexual infidelity. I am unimpressed with his file of 1000 ideas. From what I can tell, he starts projects but does not manage them. The results is his run of bankrupt organizations (after he has cashed out). He would start 1000 government agencies, which would fail, leaving us the tab, after he has taken his cut. No Vote.
Santorum: I did not pay much attention to him, until other debaters began disappearing from the podium. I knew that he was the favorite among the Christian republicans. As far as I can tell, he is mostly interested in making the USA into a theocracy for Christians. Anyone disagreeing with his strict, tightly knit set of rule has the option to go elsewhere. His economic policy appears to be to employ men, and keep women busy at home bearing, rearing, and home schooling children. His foreign policy appears to harken back to Ferdinand and Isabelle in 1492 (expulsion of the Jewish and Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula, unless they converted), John Winthrop’s vision for the Puritans leaving England to establish the Massachusett’s Bay Company not for religious freedom, but for the freedom of their religious views, or of W. Bush’s “crusade” against the Islamist before his handlers shut him up about such religiously charged phrases. I’m ready to move to Rhode Island, along with Roger Williams. No Vote.
Romney: In the last round of presidential primaries, I preferred Romney. He seemed squeeky clean, as far as potential scandals go, and hardly a war-monger. He had the appearance of business and political background. He came across as someone stepping up to what he considered his civic duty to hold public office. While, I still see those as his plusses, I have doubts about his leadership style. His business “success” hardly seem to be a model for governing a diverse country: a CEO/chairman of the board attitude toward sending down mandates that obedient middle managers follow, inheritance as the primary start of his wealth, and running an investment firm that used leveraged buyout and tax advantages to accumulate wealth. I cannot see the President “telling” congress what to do and coping well with the “No Way” response he is likely to get. While many of us receive a windfall from inheriting our family’s assets, most of us should not count on living on this largess. We go to work; do our shifts; get our quarters into Social Security; and hope that our 401k’s outlive us to pass on something to our heirs. I cannot envision how the leveraged buyout model applies to government. Let the Chinese government, the largest owner of US Treasury bills, buy up the EPA, or Health and Human Services, or Department of Defense, to “re-organize” them by laying off all of the bureaucrats, with the option to reapply for their jobs? Then if the agency fails, just close them up, or pay for them with capital gains from the success of … the USPS? No Vote.
Paul: I do not see Ron Paul as having any sexual, financial, or back-room deals going on. His libertarian positions are generally in line with my ideas of how governments do not work. He does not appear to be beholden to any larger financial donors. I do not not know how he played the political game to get to Washington, nor stays there. I cannot see him having a secretary in his bed, a brief case of cash in his freezer, or insider-trading schemes filling up off-shore bank accounts. He could not possibly get elected. He could never get his agenda, to shut down most of the federal government agencies with the option for states and private companies to re-employ all the laid off bureaucrats to run 50 state level EPA’s, education departments, health care agencies, etc. No one talks to him now. Inside-the-Beltway success is based on negotiations and deal making. Sounds like my kind of Protest Vote. Make my statement, but not risk that the candidate would actually get elected.
Charles “Buddy” Roemer: I had not heard of this candidate until I looked at the sample ballot in the newspaper. A quick internet search revealed that he is a Republican, though he used to be a Democrat, or maybe he is an Independent or an on-line Americans Elect… well, I’m not sure, but he is on my WV ballot. He served in congress in the 1980’s as a conservative Democrat. He served as Louisiana’s governor for one term. There may be some dirt there, as he switched parties to run, and his opponent, Governor Edwin Edwards is rumored to have tossed the election to Roemer as “pay back” for his father taking the fall, when he served as Edwards administrator, for some questionable financial transactions. He is reported to tout a family-man line, but also to be married three times. He supports states rights to determine gay-marriage issues, but NIMBY… California is close enough for him. He would not eliminate many federal agencies, as Paul would, but would change them to advisory panels of experts in each field… ideas without authority to enforce. He definitely would be a Dark Horse Protest Vote.
How do you decide whom to vote for?
P.S. Driving home, I had the local radio on with WV Metro News giving election analysis. At 7:30, when the polls closed, the had their first “candidate guest speaker” on. It was John Rasee, the Republican candidate to run against Joe Manchin for Sentate. Rasee happens to own WV Metro News… politics as usual.