Three days away from the Iowa caucus, the word is out that the Republican Party is in a “panic” over the possibility that Congressman Ron Paul might win the momentum-building contest on January 3, 2012.
Iowa brings with it the first major vote and the idea of a Ron Paul victory has little, if any, appeal. Why is this causing so much trepidation? One way to answer this is to look at the way the Republican presidential nominee is chosen. While the Iowa caucus is a little different, primaries are one way or another based upon the vote of the general public; this does not always appeal to the mainstays of the Republican party.
Allow me to explain. Within any organization is a group of people that dedicate their lives to it. Within that same organization are people who do little or nothing but still keep “membership.” A good example of this is a Christian Church. There are people within every Church who follow its beliefs, work for it, donate money to it, and promote it to the outside world. On the other hand, there are people on the other extreme who come to Church only on Christmas and Easter.
The same is true in the political parties. There are people who have never worked for the Republican Party, donated to the Republican Party, or really had much good to say about the Republican Party, but still feel they can and should have input as to what candidate the Republican Party eventually crowns champion. This can even go so far that “crossovers” vote in a primary; these are people who have never been affiliated with the Republican Party but choose to register as a Republican for a particular primary in order to vote for a particular Republican in a particular campaign. I actually did this once myself. There was a Democratic Party candidate I detested so much that I registered as a Democrat just for the right to vote against him in the hope I could knock him out of the race altogether. (Interestingly, I received requests from the Democratic Party for donations for years afterward.)
To continue my Christian Church analogy, there are some in politics who would prefer the presidential nomination process to look more like the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church. (For those diehards who say the Roman Catholic Church is not really Christian, please keep reading anyway.) What some inside the party would like, I am sure, is a wise and deliberate body who would make a wise and deliberate choice. White smoke would be an added bonus.
Instead, 2011 has been a volatile, rollercoaster ride through primaries and a seemingly fickle public. Now, it seems, there is talk of Ron Paul doing very well in Iowa, and to many in the party–including the Governor of Iowa–this is not a good thing. Accusations of racism, sympathy to terrorist nations, and a lack of sympathy toward the poor and sick have been leveled against Ron Paul for months. But I think there are a couple bigger reasons why the insiders in the Republican party supposedly have so much fear and loathing.
So many of Ron Paul’s policies place him at odds with members of his own party who are held in high esteem they cannot imagine how he could govern. Can anyone imagine a foreign policy conference between Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham with President Ron Paul presiding? Or, consider that from a historical point of view Ron Paul wants to get rid of the EPA, which was created by Richard Nixon, a Republican. Ron Paul could spend as much time fighting his own party as he could Democrats, and many of the reigning Republicans would not rally behind him.
Lastly, Ron Paul might not do what President Obama did when he agreed to let bygones be bygones and declined to look into the alleged crimes of the prior administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Listen carefully to those in the Liberty Campaign, and you will likely hear a lot of accusations that the Republican Party has been involved in some serious criminal behavior. It is fine for Ron Paul to go after corruption, but I have heard Campaign for Liberty people say George W. Bush should have been tried as war criminal. Remember, too, that Newt Gingrich has accused Democrats of criminal behavior — accusations against both sides of the aisle are frequent and serious. Ron Paul might just take them to the next level.
Mitt Romney may not be the perfect choice, but it appears the Republican Party believes he represents a greater sense of historical continuity than Ron Paul. Ron Paul makes many Republicans as nervous as Bolsheviks would. Maybe the Ron Paul campaign literature should stop using the word revolution so much.
Important note: The Republican Party changed the primary rules so that most primaries before April 1, 2012 will not be winner-take-all. This makes the possibility that a long primary season is ahead. Some even predict a brokered election. A prediction at this point is very tough, but I can say that even aside from the worries surrounding Ron Paul, a brokered election could be exactly what the Republican Party does not need.