Why be the Republican Presidential Candidate in 2012? The prospect is daunting given at best the titular power but the more likely fractious power accorded to the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate. It is definitely not fear of President Obama who has flunked Economics 101 by accepting ” Trickle Down, Rescue the Financial System first and things will take care of themselves Economic Policies”[thanks Ben, Larry and Tim, candidates for the Three Stooges In Economics Award]. So then party faithful can say ” Obama is is the worst President on Economics alone”. This is the mantra repeated so often lately by Republican strategists and pundit. This is the campaign slogan to fire up the troops despite their own their own Debt Issue follies – “Obama is beatable if the economy and jobs are a disaster “. So Republicans are out to “Make it so”.
Now ye Editor is not suggesting that Republicans are out to destroy the Economy – just upset it enough such that President Obama takes the Fall as the Leader in Power when the economy turned from troublesome to downright nasty again. But Republicans have a well oiled smear and fear machine to guarantee that a Failed Economic Policy gets screamed out nationwide. That same smear machine has been able to equate Health Care Reform with “Death Panels”, stifle all meaningful Climate Change policy despite increasingly erratic weather patterns, and preserve the Wall Street Wealthy and SuperRich from any prosecutions or taxes despite their” Too Big Too Fail” rescuing by the American Public and the lowest income tax rates in 30 years. Read here, here and here about the Republicans Media Mechanics of Mass Deception. But also as we shall see below, that same smear and fear machine is outside the Republican Presidential candidate’s control.
So here are the 5 Republican Easy Steps to Upsetting the Economy in Time for the 2012 Presidential Elections:
1)Continue the 30 years of Ronald Reagan’s treasonous “Starve the Beast” policy in which you deliberately overspend the Federal budget to create ever increasing deficits to eventually force the public to make drastic cuts to programs. Do that by zealously protecting Tax Breaks for bankers and financial institutions, no competitive bidding in Health and Defense, and the tax and budget privileges of selected coprorate welfare groups like defense, health care. oil and gas, etc.
2)Reject Democratic “Pay As You Go” legislation that would force new Federal programs to either fund themselves, increase taxes, or cut other programs so that no new deficits would be incurred. This approach was quite successful under President Clinton’s tenure when there were huge US budget surpluses. “Pay As You Go” would have demanded that the President Bush’s Medicare extension pay for its increased benefits by increasing health taxes or allowing the Health Dept to solicit competitive bids for drugs and health items. The Republican Congress rejected both approaches and never made offsetting spending cuts. “Starve the Beast” has been consistently chosen by Republicans over “Pay As You Go”.
3)Obstruct the Obama administration from working effectively by delaying executive appointments and slashing/delaying department budgets. Then complain that the departments and agencies effected are not working effectively. This action includes critical government agencies in Treasury, Energy, Homeland Security, and so many judicial appointments to the extent that Chief Justice Roberts has recently complained about delayed judicial staffing. In general, the GOP strategy is to delay and obstruct executive appointments and administration to show that government is “just not working” so that Republican candidates like Donald Trump and Mitt Romney can dare to say things like “Obama is the worst President in US history”.
4)Take any tax reforms or tax increases out of the Budget debate despite the fact that income taxes in general and especially for the super rich are at their lowest levels in 30 years. Once tax reform and tax increases are out of the equation, then spending cuts and more efficient administration are “the only budget choices”. Kill any notion of more “efficient administration” by attacking public service unions and workers while delaying administration appointments and cutting their budgets.
5)Cede power to special interest groups who have the clout to eliminate members of Congress and States representatives who oppose their positions. The NRA, Religious Right, ATR among other special interest groups have targeted and helped defeat candidates who opposed their views. This political assasination approach means that their special interest policy positions seldom get challenged.
If you don’t believe the power of point 5), watch how votes in Congress declared as key issues by a special interest groups have no dissenting Republican votes. Ever wonder why bipartisanship is dead in Congress ? Republicans dare not cross their Masters. So given these policies the ship will hit the fan as the current game of Economic Budget Chicken that Republican politicians are playing reaps its reward – a second economic downturn for which the US Economy no longer has the funds or the economic strength to quickly work itself out of. And as a result the political turmoil, vitriol and blame-gaming will reach fever pitch. You, as Republican Presidential Candidate will be in charge of defining a campaign which delineates how to clean up the this largely GOP induced mess. Where do you start?
Answer to the Powers that be in the GOP
Roger Ailes, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, Ralph Reed, the NRA, the Religious Right, Wall Street and other powerful special interest groups – these are the true power brokers in the Republican party. And they have been strengthened by the Supreme Court Decision to allow unlimited campaign funding and lobbying. So You, as Presidential Hopeful, answer to them. And if you don’t, you don’t get nominated. And even if you do get elected President, don’t try to contain or rein in their power. Otherwise your key programs get defeated. You as Presidential candidate are only the titular head of the GOP. You disappoint any one or group of these political power brokers and you will suffer the consequences. Just ask former Republican Chairman Michael Steele.
So is it a surprise that so many have turned down the opportunity to run for GOP presidential candidate? True, if Obama gets the jobs situation turned around, he will be a formidable opponent. But already Governor Hailey Barbour of Mississippi, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Governor Mike Huckabee Of Arkansas, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, Governor Rick Perry of Texas – all have turned down many calls for their candidacy for the President. Why take on the thankless task? Why kowtow to the GOP power brokers? Besides the power brokers want someone politically mature but still dependent, be it either vote-getting wise or intellectually or monetarily. George W. Bush is the ideal model. So don’t be surprised if Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann or even Representative Paul Ryan became the great GOP Stand-in Presidential candidate.
But besides an having to cope with a Nation in a substantial Economic Mess while having a declining US position in the World and answering to your Political Masters – these are only the first two wicked problems confronting a GOP Presidential candidate. The next 3 sections will will discuss these other Republican wicked problems that the Republican Presidential candidate will have to deal with. .
“You Can Fool Some of the People All of the Time, and Those are the Ones You Have to Pay Attention To”
These are the remarks made by President George W. Bush at the Gridiron Club in 2002. They were only a joke …” just a joke”. But the real joke is the Web of Self-Deceit that make up the Republican Coalition of farmers and businesses, the Super Wealthy, conservative Seniors, Christian Evangelicals, Immigration Radicals, plus the Gun Lobby. This fractious grouping is becoming unglued. Seniors and many of the “One Issue” special interest group members got slammed hard by the Mortgage Meltdown and subsequent financial crisis. They resent a)no foreclosure help,b)small-scale, temporary or glacial movement on a meaningful jobs program and c) big help in recovery to the banks and financial institutions that did them in while all of the bankers, rating agencies, and financial players have prospered and are also gotten off Scott Free from any malfeasance prosecution – all aided and abated by steadfast Republican support. Small and medium size businesses resent the fact that the big banks’ loans to them have fallen substantially despite record breaking profits as more banking monies return to more lucrative derivative bets, commodities speculation and M+A activities. Christian Radicals feel their causes have been shortchanged or preempted by efforts for other groups while the Immigration Radicals are none to happy with the use of illegal immigrants by medium to small farms and businesses.
But perhaps the biggest fault line in the Republican party is the Tea Party. The Tea Party is an amalgam of small+medium size business executives, conservative seniors, and the well-to-do from the GOP special interest groups. Tea Party members have no love whatsoever for either the Bush or Obama bailouts of Wall Street and large corporations. They are even more adamant about “big government”, continuing deficits and no new taxes. They believe that now that “Starve the Beast” has achieved its first goal – economic peril because of ever larger Federal Deficits – now is the time to strike and cut government programs drastically and/or renege on US debt payments. These Tea Party aims are in direct conflict with another bastion of Republican support – big business and Wall Street. The Street and Big Corporations dread the effects of a US default and cutbacks on some of their cherished supports and their positions in World commerce. Even a partial default would impact immediately and likely catastrophically not just domestically but also in their global business markets for the long term.
In sum, there is a Civil War going on in the Republican Party between the Tea Party vs Wall Street/Corporations over the Debt Ceiling+Cutbacks and then in September over the 2012 Budget process. Imagine the Republican Presidential Race with the previously noted fragmentation and possible open Civil War as backdrop. And you, as Presidential Candidate must go to the warring power brokers to reconcile the conflict while also seeking support both financially and in votes. Imagine in the course of a modest disagreement the need for true Wormtongue TwoSpeak or get handed your candidacy on a platter.
“Politics is almost comically two-faced”
There are two faces to politics. On one side there is the positive aspect of convincing enough supporters [25-35% of voters are independents in US politics] that your policies will handle the current basket of problems confronting the nation. Then you must sell your vision on what are the priorities and means to address the problems while minimizing the risks of policies going astray or creating even greater difficulties, costs, and/or danger. This is the yin of politics. The yang is negative. A candidate must dispute if not outright disparage and tarnish the policies, choices and priorities of the opposition plus their ability to deliver good governance. US Politics has allways been two faced .
But there are 3 critical differentiators in the 21st century. First, the pace of change has accelerated. Disruptive Economics means that a winner in the marketplace like PCs by Microsoft and Intel can be and are losing now to tablets and smartphones made by Apple who were the original pioneers and leaders in PCs but had lost out to Microsoft and Windows in the mid in the early 1990s. But now Apple has already lost in 3 years its dominant position in smartphones to Google with its many Taiwanese, Chinese, and South Korean suppliers plus a few American and European players. In sum, technology is driving ever faster economic and political cycles of change[witness the Middle East]. Also new major players have emerged with the rise of BRIC-Brazil, Russia, India, and China as the fastest growing and soon as the biggest Economic power in the world replacing Europe and North America. Similar swift changes are operating on the political scene.
Second, slack [extra time and resources] to solve increasingly wicked problems often global in scale has grown ever tighter. Wicked problems are called that because they are difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and sometimes changing cause-and-effects that may be very difficult to identify and/or control. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems. Example, the Ozone layer problem was seemingly under control in the 1990s with the discovery and then banning of chloro-flouro and other halogen chemicals from use in sprays, refrigeration, etc. But the developing BRIC countries received dispensations from the controls until 2010 or longer. With their rapid growth they have now become major contributors halogen pollution. So large ozone holes are reappearing allowing cancer-causing ultraviolet rays to become a worldwide threat again.
Slack needed to investigate and solve wicked problems in national and world systems are growing ever smaller. These slacks include the amount of time to investigate and develop some approaches to resolving a problem plus the amount of money and other resources that can be marshalled to solve the problem[s]. So as the World’s problems become increasingly wicked – a disciplined, scientific and systematic approach to understand and resolve the problems becomes more critical.
Third, more problems are global in scale. Climate change, peak oil and the need to convert to other energy sources, growing water shortages, and the rapid spread of disease with growing air travel are a few telling examples. For example, the deadly SARS virus originated in Southeast Asia but rapidly spread to North America with a particularly dangerous outbreak in Toronto – more than 10,000 miles from the point of origin of the disease incurring virus. This global nature often adds to the intractable and wicked aspects of such problems. The current job problem in the US is directly related to globalization and out sourcing.
Thus , a disciplined and rational approach to political, economic and social problems has become ever more critical in the 21st century. But during this same period, the Republican Party has gone over to the dark side of politics. Starting under President Reagan, the politics of smear and fear mongering have become increasingly used by the GOP first in campaigning; and now continually with its own propaganda network, Fox News[when was the last three times you heard unalloyed praise for Democratic policy or programs on “fair and balanced” Fox News? When was the last time Fox News was caught fabricating or shading facts?].This campaign of smear, deception and fear is used to bind together increasingly incompatible Republican factions. But it also has the effect of sponsoring an attitude of victimization and making acceptable a deliberate irrationality. Thus one badge of conservative Republican commitment means one rejects the notion of global human induced climate change despite the clear evidence of ozone layer depletion and hydrocarbon gas induced global warming that can be readily mapped. Likewise the sheer act of investigating and addressing these wicked problems is attacked as “liberal bias” or ” blatant attempts to manipulate the people”.
These notions of victimization and elites trying to manipulate you might apply to some Wall Street players where once efficient markets have become closed, opaque and subject to sophisticated manipulation; but in the broader scientific community it is so much harder to do because of the basic criteria of scientific advancement – a)one must submit complete experimental evidence for your theory to peer review and b)independent duplication of the experimental evidence is the criteria for acceptance but c)the theory is still subject to modification and even wholescale change by further relevant evidence and a cycle of confirmation.
So the problem becomes how do you, as prospective Republican Presidential candidate marshal evidence and arguments for policy and programs when the whole process is potentially subject to dismissal as the machinations of liberal ideas from within the Republican party itself. Likewise, the need to bend and conform your programs to the often contradictory requirements of the various Republican special interest groups make the sometimes pretzel policies an understatement.
“We are the party of good governance”
Time after time ye Editor has heard Republican pundits praising the Republican Party’s abilities to manage because they are allied with business and they know good governance. Here are just 6 items that suggest the contrary about good governance:
1)The GOP embraced treasonous “starve the beast policy”. As a result Republican Presidents since Ronald Reagan are almost totally responsible for the perilous increase in the national debt. Over both terms of the Clinton administration, with a tough “Pay As You Go” policy, the national debt shrunk significantly by 8%. Since President Clinton left office the GOP has rejected “Pay As You Go” several times.
2)The GOP has allowed a National TV Network posing as “fair and balanced” to become a propaganda machine for the party.
3)The GOP continues to support a “Trickle Down” economic policy that gives bailouts, tax breaks, massive deregulation and other government largess to business with no conditions attached. “Trickle Down” depends on the efficiency of Capitalist Markets to spread the corporate welfare effectively to solve US economic problems. More $ 5.6 trillion and counting since 2007-2009 [both Bush and Obama], and the economy is barely growing 9.1% nominal unemployment and miniscule increase in jobs is the net effect of “Trickle Down”.
4)The GOP has fully unleashed the 60 vote filibuster rule in the Senate making a mockery of majority rule. The GOP claims its just turnabout for much more selective use of the filibuster rule by the Democrats prior to 2006. The situation create anarchy in legislation and majority rule in the country.
5)The GOP has welcomed and embraced the Supreme Courts 5 Republican justices to 4 Democratic justices ruling that special interest groups and Corporations shall have the free speech right equivalent to the individual voter – thus effectively eliminating limits to campaign funding and lobby spending. So now one man one vote is more clearly supplanted by “he who has the most money gets access to government people in power”.
6)The GOP has fostered an anti-intellectal and policy planning bias that is in direct contradiction to good governance. See how Republican Senator Shelby of Alabama makes a mockery of presidential appointments and intellectual vigor. See an echo of that in the uncivil treatment of Elizabeth Warren at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who has also had to repeatedly walk Republican gauntlets in her tentative appointment to head of the agency.
These are formidable departures from good governance. Yet changing anyone of these would be nearly Mission Impossible for a GOP Presidential Candidate. So consider how a GOP Presidential candidate tries to change the economic Trickle Down economic policy. He/She doesn’t. Rather he/she merely says “Obama failed the country” rather than propose something other than Trickle Down in another disguise. The fundamental problem is that the GOP Presidential Candidate has no power, is only a titular leader, and can’t govern or control his or her own party. So why be the Republican Presidential Candidate in 2012?