AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

Opinion

May 11, 2012

The GOP: Party in Flux

GROVE CITY — With Rick Santorum having dropped out of the race, Mitt Romney is apparently the Republican nominee for POTUS, barring a "black swan" event swooping down out of nowhere.

Why has the Republican Party taken so long to decide upon its presidential nominee? The two most common explanations given have been the structure of the primaries and the absence of an "ideal" candidate.

Those are valid reasons, but there is one more that generally has been overlooked: The Republican Party itself is in a state of flux, and its new identity has not yet gelled. 

The Tea Party message of smaller government has been dominant in the GOP primaries.

However, even though the old guard, moderate, country club, establishment - choose whichever cliché you prefer - wing of the party was eclipsed in the nominating process, it remains a formidable force in Washington.

This was evident in the recent Senate vote on repealing all subsidies to all private energy companies (conventional and renewable): 19 Republicans voted with every single Democrat against abolishing the subsidies.

Also, the very fact that the most conservative budget proposal put forth in Congress by Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) - a plan that, while obviously superior to the Obama alternative, will increase federal spending and debt - shows the present limits of the Tea Party's influence.

The Republican Party may indeed be evolving into a truly conservative party, but the transformation is far from complete.

Many rank-and-file Republicans have been becoming more conservative at different rates, so it is not surprising that the candidates struggled to find the "sweet spot" where one could establish himself as the ideal 2012 Republican.

Although many Republicans were dismayed and disheartened as the primary race dragged on, there is an excellent chance that this sense of malaise will quickly dissipate now that the race is essentially over.

The bickering between the candidates was unpleasant and cast a pall over the nominating process, but that was a passing phenomenon that will soon be forgotten. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich took turns pointing out each other's past flirtations with interventionist government, while trying to outdo each other in professing to repent of those earlier missteps and emerging as the one genuine, born-again, true-blue conservative.

Ron Paul, meanwhile, who remained un-nominate-able due to his noninterventionist foreign policy (and perhaps even his uncompromising free-market principles), must feel vindicated that his three opponents (in some cases) staked out positions much closer to his consistent, constitutionalist, limited-government philosophy than would have been conceivable four years ago.

The Republican program in 2012 became clear even before Romney emerged as the standard-bearer.

The last four men in the primary race - Romney, Paul, Gingrich and Santorum - all agreed: The federal government is too big, the country is in deep trouble, and the presidency of Barack Obama has been disastrous.

All four advocated less federal involvement in education, effective control of national borders, lower taxes, fewer bureaucracies, repealing Obamacare, greater freedom to develop domestic energy resources, less social engineering by Washington, etc.

Choosing between Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum was, for many, like choosing between vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream. Their personalities, pasts, and priorities had different flavors, but their philosophies were of the same general type.

The presidential election campaign will generate far more enthusiasm among Republicans than the primary race did, because voters will now have a clear-cut choice between Republican ice cream or another helping of Barack Obama's spinach.

Barack Obama has already laid the groundwork for a very challenging economic environment in 2013.

Whoever is president will have to cope with a bruising debt-ceiling battle, the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts, a weak job market, unresolved systemic problems with Social Security and Medicare, a badly deteriorated power grid, and degraded military capabilities - not to mention possible complications resulting from Obama's feckless foreign policy.

Frankly, I don't think there is a person on earth who is completely prepared for all the challenges that will confront us during the next four years. I am convinced, though, that if Romney is elected, he will devote himself unreservedly to trying to solve those problems, while Obama would just make them worse.

Tea Partiers, moderate Republicans, independents, and anyone else hoping for a change of direction in our country, can either unite behind Mitt Romney or concede defeat to Barack Obama. That is the choice before us.

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

Published April 21, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Forced-pooling hearing should include those affected

    It's hard, after all we’ve seen, to imagine that the long-simmering debate about fracking for natural gas is as simple as either side says it is.

    April 18, 2014

  • Protecting reporters and the right to know

    If it had been solely up to government officials at the time, how much do you think Americans would have learned about the Watergate break-in and the White House cover-up that followed? Maybe nothing.

    March 12, 2014

  • Dispute over meetings warrants public attention

    Something funny is going on in Pulaski Township.

    February 7, 2014

  • Mister Rogers vs. the Unity Tree

    I was walking by Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue last week when struck by our city’s “Unity Tree.” It’s a curious thing about the Unity Tree: it only comes out at Christmas time — yes, Christmas.

    January 17, 2014

  • Drilling anywhere in PA has implications for all

    If you drink water, read this.

    January 10, 2014

  • Sudden snow sometimes creates idiots on roads

    Spring in December seemed to have sprung last Saturday when the sun was shining and the mercury rose above 40 degrees. The prediction of freezing rain for Sunday appeared way off the mark.

    January 3, 2014

  • Online gambling study ordered for Pennsylvania

    Coming on the heels of a report noting that total revenue from Pennsylvania slot machines for November was down 1.3 percent from last November, the state Senate recently passed a resolution, calling for a study of gambling in Pennsylvania, including the possibility of legalizing online gambling.

    January 3, 2014

  • Obamacare stumbles over the basics of signups

    Every new program is bound to have a few glitches. But what’s happening right now with the nation’s new health insurance program and online signup efforts is disturbing. And it creates uncertainty regarding the entire concept of health care reform.

    November 26, 2013

  • Anti-cyberbullying efforts may be having effect

    Parents everywhere must be rejoicing, because a new poll suggests that cyberbullying among students seems to be decreasing.

    November 26, 2013

  • A veteran, 90, recalls Patton, Ike, freedom

    I recently took my two teenage sons to a talk by Frank Kravetz, a 90-year-old World War II veteran who survived Hitler’s Nuremberg prisons. Frank published his story in a memoir, “Eleven Two: One WWII Airman’s Story of Capture, Survival and Freedom.”

    November 26, 2013

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide