An Observation About Republican Presidential Candidates

I almost never ever post on politics and political races, but I had an interesting conversation the other day.  As a secular libertarian, I find no one (beyond Ron Paul) among the Republican candidates even the least bit interesting.  I trust none of them to pursue free market and small government principals, and several, including McCain, Giuliani, and Huckabee, have track records of large government intrusiveness.

What I found interesting was a conversation with a friend of mine who self-identifies as a Christian conservative  (yes, I know it is out of vogue, but it is perfectly possible to have quality friendships with people of different political stripes, particularly considering that I am married to a New England liberal Democrat).  My Christian conservative friend said he found no Republican he was really interested in voting for.

I find it interesting that the Republicans (again with the exception of Ron Paul, who I think they would like to disavow) unable to field a candidate that appeals to either of its traditional constituencies.  It strikes me the party is heading back to its roots in the 1970s in the Nixon-Rockefeller days.  Yuk.

Update:  Which isn't to necessarily say the Democrats have everything figured out.  For example, in response to a Republican President thought to be over-reaching, secretive, and overly fond of executive power, they seem ready to nominate Hillary Clinton, who may be one of the few people in the country more secretive and power-hungry.  Anyone remember how she conducted her infamous health care task force?  I seem to remember she pioneered many of the practices for which Democrats tried to impeach Dick Cheney this week.

  • Flatland

    As a "Christian conservative" myself, I find myself in the same boat. My current favorite is Fred Thompson based on what he has stated about federalism, but I'm not too excited about any candidate. I definitely do NOT want Democratic leadership though which is why I'll vote for whoever has the Republican ticket. I seem to disagree with Democrats on almost every major issue that I'm concerned about.

  • CRC

    As a "Christian libertarian", I find the choices quite unsettling.

    Ron Paul is my lead choice. His chances, unfortunately, seem slim.

    Hillary and Rudy (the two most likely candidates at this time) scare the heck out of me. Either one of them is bound to lead our nation further down a dark path.

  • Val

    I understand that Ron Paul advocates for a return to the gold standard. Since that one statement displays a profound ignorance of economics (or a man who will say what he needs to appeal to a certain demographic), I am not sure I understand how anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of the same could find him anything but utterly appalling.

  • ErikTheRed

    Unfortunately, Ron Paul is unelectable. He's certainly not helped by his most vocal supporters (surely no one on this site), who go around stuffing online polls and spinning wild conspiracy theories in various forums. I support most of his ideas (I'm sort of libertarian-lite). The only mainstream candidate who holds even the slightest appeal to me is Mitt Romney, because of what he's accomplished in the business world. I'm a bit leery of his religious side - not Mormonism in particular but just devoutly religious leaders in general.

  • Wiseburn

    Val,

    I've watched Paul speak dozens of times and he always mentions "Sound Money". Not "Gold Standard". He wants to legalize alternatives to our Fiat "This Note is Legal Tender ..." Currency.

    If you buy gold or silver coins, depending on your state you may have to pay a sales tax. You then have to pay capital gains tax if your coins rose in relation to the dollar when you wanted to sell. Paul would work to end these two taxes.

    Note also the power to coin money belongs to the Congress. Paul, having never voted to expand the power of the Executive, is unlikely to takeover this power as President. He will work with the congress to end our overspending and borrowing.

    Here's a great article by Paul on the dollar.
    http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2006/cr021506.htm

    CRC,

    Don't let the media pick your candidates. Paul has more boots on the ground, dedicated supporters than any other Republican. Ignore the so-called scientific polls. They are a trailing indicator. Look how many signs you see
    for candidates. Paul just set a fundraising record and his volunteers are working hard to get disaffected Republicans, Independents and others registered to vote in the Republican Primary. Don't give up hope yet.

    Steve

  • http://www.napataxpayer.org napablogger

    I didn't take your post to be about Ron Paul per se, but about how lackluster the Republican candidates are and I agree. Paul to me is not in touch with reality. If he did get elected it would be a nightmare as he would not be able to get anything done. Don't waste your vote unless that is just a protest vote. I may vote for him for that reason if we see a Hillary vs Romney or something.

    Somebody has to stand up and talk about cutting costs. Actually one thing about the Nixon-Rockefeller era is that they did believe in keeping deficits down, they were just willing to raise taxes to do it. We don't even have that much now. Not that I want to raise taxes, but where is the responsibility?

  • http://that-xmas.livejournal.com Xmas

    Napa,

    Nixon also implimented wage and price controls in an attempt to stop inflation. Unfortunately, the worst long-term result of this is our current health-care crisis. (Wage Freeze -> non-wage benefits -> employer health insurance -> third-party payer system we know and love today.)

    All of the candidates have some sort of issue. I'm just glad Dr. Paul's issues are debatable policy issues.

  • thesimpsons33

    "If he [Ron Paul] did get elected it would be a nightmare as he would not be able to get anything done."

    Given what the government has "accomplished" in recent years, not getting anything done actually seems like a dream scenario to me...

    And just to clarify: as Wiseburn noted, Congressman Paul has never advocated a return to a gold standard. He supports making gold and silver legal tender. There is an enormous difference between the two.

    As for gold standard advocates "displaying profound ignorance of economics," as Val suggests - well, you can enjoy watching the value of your money be destroyed in the next few years as the Federal Reserve inflates the hell out of it. And I'm just curious, Val: would you consider Alan Greenspan (http://www.constitution.org/mon/greenspan_gold.htm) and Ronald Reagan (http://reason.com/blog/show/123377.html) "profoundly ignorant of economics"? Both of them supported the gold standard as well. I guess they must have been crazy...

  • skh.pcola

    To you RonPaulbots:

    How can gold be legal tender if there isn't a gold standard? With a global commodity market open every (all?) day, and with market prices changing every second, how do you suppose you could roll up into a grocery and pay for your tofu with some bullion? You are either being dishonest or naive in your assertions. I'd probably vote for "naive," since Paulbots generally are.

  • Streaker

    Ron Paul advocates returning to the gold standard-
    http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2002/cr091002b.htm

  • Val

    Note that almost all of the gold in the world resides in government vaults, a very high percentage of it overseas. Therefore, the value of gold is vastly and artificially inflated. Suppose we were on the gold standard - who would control the value of our money?

  • Kelly

    I believe Christian conservatives could easily be swayed into the Ron Paul camp if he is able to build some legitimate momentum. He values human life, and has a track record to prove it, rather than just lip service at campaign time. Some say nothing would "get done" by the Feds if Paul was elected. Amen to that!

  • franco

    "The Gold Standard" does not actually mean we will be trading gold coins but rather that paper currency will be backed by gold. You may never notice a difference but the government will if it tries to print $'s. The paper currency must be backed by gold when it is issued - the government cannot just print money.

    This protection is the same reason many lenders (or more accurately bond purchasers) insist that loans to sovereign entities be repaid in a different currency than their own. For instance, if you're loaning $'s to Russia would you rather the loan be denominated in Euros or Rubles? The gold standard is no different. It is simply a benchmark outside the government's control that it must answer to. The printing press can no longer bail it out. Remember, the government has $9 trillion of debt. 7% inflation for 10 years can cut this in half in real terms. As for gold being inflated, nothing indicates cartel pricing power over gold nor is there a DeBeers like monopoly. In real terms gold has been a terrible investment over the last 25 or so years.

  • markm

    Xmas, you're correct about wage freezes being what started employer-paid health insurance, but wrong in blaming Nixon. It started under FDR in World War II, back when Nixon was just a low-ranking Navy officer. I can't even call FDR's wage freeze unjustified, considering the economic distortions that must have resulted from producing more than the whole pre-war economy just to be sold to the government, shipped overseas, and blown up.

    But continuing that system after the war, that was close to criminal. And I wouldn't be surprised if Nixon's peacetime freeze significantly deepened the problem. It certainly contributed to other problems...

  • Val

    O f course the gov't can print more money while using a gold standard. As far as outside control, witness the UK and South Korea in recent years. Suppose a hostile gov't should decide to wage economic warfare, and liquidate masive amounts of gold to tank anyone foolish enugh to be tied to its value. Even without such scenarios, tying or currency to a single commodity is foolish at best. The problems are too numerous to list, but you can be assured that the pipe dream of greater stability will absolutely not occur. The opposite will most certainly happen. Not that there is the remotest chance in the nether regions of this happening, but for a presidential candidate to advocate it is very disturbing, tosay the least.

  • CT

    I'm a Christian conservative, and largely agree with Flatland, the first commenter. Thompson seems to be capable, as does Duncan Hunter who has no chance of getting the nomination. In the end, I will vote for anyone but a democrat, though I detest doing so. I have a very difficult time becoming enthused about Ron Paul, Guliani, or Romney. Huckabee, the supposed runaway favorite of the "Christian Right", is not particularly appealing... just another politician building a base.

    Pollsters take note. I'm a trend setter.

  • Scott

    Steve, Paul may have some ideas that appeal to a small minority but a politician who consistently polls in the 1-2 percentile range, looks and sounds like a crazy hill-billy, denounces combat action overseas by saying in effect that we started it all and describes our currency as fiat money does not have a chance in hell of being elected. The first rule of making policy is to be elected. His policies are never going to happen. The only thing Ron Paul can do right at this point is to stay on the sidelines after he loses every primary in every state. If he switches to independent a la Ross Perot to take his 1-2% loyal followers with him then he will virtually guarantee a democratic victory. If this is his intent then he should make it known now so that Republicans will no his true intentions.

  • Jon

    Just to set the record straight: Ron Paul is now at 7% in national polls and rising. He is ahead of Fred Thompson in most states.

    Also, Scott, you do know that Bush ran on an non-interventionist foreign policy in 2000 ?

    And Val that we had some adherence to a gold standard as recently as 1973 ?

    How do you figure these ideas are in any way fringe ?