The Ideal Republican Candidate

By | December 19, 2011 | 10 Comments

Many people are arguing about which of the current Republican candidates is preferable. But the bottom line is that none of them is ideal. If one were ideal, there would be a lot less arguing. So the first thing to do is to determine what is the ideal. If we can agree on that, we will be able to tell which candidate comes closest.
The ideal candidate is a conservative.
Yes, but what is conservative? To me, a conservative is one who is firmly grounded in Judeo-Christian and American values, and who will apply them in domestic and international politics. But to others, “conservative” may have other meanings.
To a libertarian, a conservative is one − like Ron Paul − who wants to reduce the federal government to the minimum size required to maintain the basic functions of government, and to withdraw from the world. Such a candidate wants to abandon our friends and leave them to the tender mercies of our enemies. Though we are the biggest kid in the schoolyard, he wants to let bullies roam free to torment the weak. Such a candidate is unconcerned that Iranian fanatics are developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them − while screaming “Death to America!” To me, this is a radical, irresponsible position. But to many libertarians, it’s conservative.
To a social conservative, a conservative is one who wants to affirm a pro-life position and Judeo-Christian values. Such a candidate opposes creating human embryos, then destroying them for research. Such a candidate condemns Obama’s plan to give the elderly or disabled medical treatment only if it will “save money.” Such a candidate favors maintaining the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. To this I would agree, but then I would ask: should we try to have Roe v. Wade overturned? The chances of this happening seem slim. But even if it were overturned, each state would be free to pass its own abortion laws. For example, even before Roe v. Wade, California had a liberal abortion law, signed by Governor Ronald Reagan. Question: By this definition, was Reagan a conservative?
To a fiscal conservative, a conservative is one who wants to reduce federal spending to the level of federal income − and equally important, to reduce federal taxes to the level that people are free to spend most what they earn as they think best. To this I would also agree, but then I would ask, “Yes, but are there values that are more important than money? If the federal budget were balanced and taxes were lower, but there were still a million abortions a year, and the elderly and the disabled were denied care to save money, would you be happy?”
The ideal candidate is a real conservative.
Surely we have had our fill of RINOs, Republicans in name only. What good is it to win, if winning means merely to apply the brakes lightly on our downhill course? No, we need someone who will apply the brakes firmly, make a U-turn, and begin our long climb back uphill. Socialism-light is how we got into this mess in the first place. The trick is to balance electability with what the candidate will do if he or she is elected. My belief is that we should pick the candidate who enunciates our principles most clearly, and has the guts to put them into effect.
And if no real conservative is electable, the battle is already lost. About 48.5% of Americans now receive benefits from the federal government. We hear the term “tipping point,” but do we understand what it means? If over half of citizens realize that they can vote themselves more benefits, the fat lady will be singing really loudly. Look at the European Union − unsustainable benefits are its undoing. Still, if it breaks up, Europeans will be left with their own nations and their own currencies. But what if America goes bankrupt because of unsustainable benefits? What will we be left with?
The ideal candidate has experience in the private sector.
Here Mitt Romney has the inside track. But what does his experience consist of? His business career opens him to charges that he destroyed jobs in order to benefit “the rich.” Of course, if he had not done so, the companies probably would have gone under, wiping out not some but all of the jobs. In fact, Newt Gingrich criticized Romney for his work at Bain Capital. But in doing so, in effect Gingrich criticized capitalism itself − and sounded almost like Michael Moore. Gingrich later retracted his criticism. But as Bill Bennett said, “Newt is like a box of chocolates − you never know what you’re going to get.”
If we want a candidate with experience in the private sector, we must be prepared to support − forcefully − the principles of free enterprise. What Romney did was the exact opposite of bailouts. He helped troubled companies become competitive again, rather than temporarily bailing them out so that they could remain uncompetitive until the final debacle.
The ideal candidate has experience in government.
Here Newt Gingrich has the inside track. But what does his experience consist of? There is an outstanding record in Congress, leading to the speakership − the second in line to the presidency. There is the Contract with America, as well as welfare reform and the balanced budget. But there is also a lifetime of connections with Washington insiders. Why else would Freddie Mac have paid Gingrich over a million dollars? As a “historian”? As a consultant? Or as a lobbyist?
If we want a candidate with experience in government, we must be prepared to support the virtues of public service. The ideal, of course, would be someone with experience in both government and the private sector − for example, Mitt Romney. And yet, with our one-party media, experience in both public and private sectors merely makes him subject to criticism on both grounds.
The ideal candidate can defeat Barack Obama.
This is obvious, but what does it mean? First, the candidate must be personally acceptable. Newt Gingrich has been divorced twice and has personal baggage. Still, his daughter speaks well of him, so perhaps the baggage isn’t as heavy as it appears.
On the other hand, Mitt Romney has a picture-perfect family − but some feel it is too perfect. Perhaps people have tired of Barack Obama’s self-righteous, prissy demeanor; his perfect family; and his healthful diet. Perhaps Romney subconsciously reminds them of Obama. Perhaps the older, overweight, imperfect Gingrich seems like a welcome change. Chris Christy would have been an even bigger change, if you’ll pardon the expression, but he isn’t running.
Herman Cain has dropped out, and the other candidates seem to have exemplary family lives, so there is not much to choose between them in this respect.
Obama is the incumbent, an automatic advantage. And then there are his personal advantages − youth, height, good looks, pleasant voice, and smooth speech − at least with the aid of teleprompters. So what qualities should we look for in his opponent? Should we seek someone who is also relatively young, handsome, tall, and well-spoken? That is a description of Mitt Romney.
On the other hand, have voters grown sick of smooth talkers with glib answers? Are they seeking someone with real answers for serious problems, even if he is older, shorter, less handsome, even a bit pudgy? Are they tired of a rich baritone speaking meaningless platitudes, and would welcome a tinny tenor if it talked sense? That is a description of Newt Gingrich.
Or could we go further? Could we go for a Texas twang that speaks awkwardly, but forcefully and sincerely, and go with Rick Perry? Could we go for a high-pitched Midwestern voice that speaks intelligently but sometimes too quickly, and go with Michele Bachmann? Or could we go further still and reach out for Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio? Perhaps such an attractive candidate for vice president could push the presidential candidate over the top.
But here is what we must not do: We must not squabble endlessly among ourselves, searching for the ideal candidate who does not exist, and fail to come together for the good-enough candidate who could have defeated Obama if we had given him our wholehearted support. For that there would be no forgiveness.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.


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