After three Republican debates there is one thing that is abundantly clear. None of these men, with one exception, have much of a chance in the general election. That exception is surprisingly the little known Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
The fact is that the war in Iraq is the biggest issue of the 2008 election and that 70% of the American people want to see it come to an end. If the GOP decides to go the Rudy McRomney route, a trio that refuses to hold President Bush accountable for the mistakes of the past year, the result will undoubtedly be a Democratic win whether it is Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
If most Republicans do not realize this then they are truly out of step with the rest of the country. The fact of the matter is that most Americans will not bother voting in the primaries or even do their homework and examine the two main candidates in the general election. They will rather vote with the pulse of the nation, and currently the nation wants to see us leave Iraq.
The Democrats know that they will reap the benefits in November 2008 if we are still patrolling the streets of Iraq next year. It is sickening to see how they are using the lives of our soldiers in Iraq as a political boost, and they are very blatantly shaping the issue to their benefit for the next election. It sure is politically expedient to continue to have the ruling Democratic Party fund an unpopular war without a timeline to withdraw but still have the top tier all vote against it. They are able to ensure that this issue will still be relevant for the presidential election but still have their top ponies with the voting record that says they tried to end it.
Further proof that the Democrats are framing the Iraq War to their benefit can be found in the last debate, when Hillary Clinton claimed that the Iraq War was "George Bush’s war". Apparently she somehow forgot that she voted for it. She also stated that every Republican candidate was in favor of the war. I am sure that every Ron Paul supporter was taken back when they heard that lie. Maybe Hillary just figured Paul is so unlikely to win the GOP nomination that she didn’t include him in her assessment, but the fact is that she said this because she wants to be running against a pro war candidate. Alternatively, if Ron Paul were to win the nomination, the Democrats would rather find themselves running against a man with more credibility regarding the anti-war stance and effectively give the GOP the high ground on one of the most important issues of the election.
However, the main obstacle for Paul is getting the Republican base to actually get behind his non-interventionist stance. The first and foremost mistake most Republicans make when criticizing Paul’s foreign policy stance is that he is weak on terror. This is just not true, as he is all for fighting Al-Qaeda and believes we should have more troops and effort spent in Afghanistan. What Paul does not promote is fighting pre-emptive wars and muddling in the internal affairs of other nations that cause terrorists because this weakens the overall war on terror and our national security.
Unfortunately, we have caused quite the sticky situation in Iraq. While it is universally accepted that there was no significant Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before we stepped in if at all, they have now arrived amidst the chaos to fight our soldiers and send Iraq into a civil war. There are no good options when solving Iraq, but patrolling the streets of a foreign civil war should not be the job of the United States military.
The main idea behind the opposition to pulling our troops out is that Iraq would turn into a base for Al-Qaeda. While this is a possibility, it is important to note that it is not a certainty. Regardless, the main flaw in this thinking is that we lose all control of Iraq after we pullout. There is no reason that we cannot reenter Iraq if it became a base for terrorist operations. In fact, it would probably be to our military’s benefit. The problem we have had when fighting Al-Qaeda is that they are mobile and decentralized. If they overran the Iraq government and set up a terrorist state we would finally know where our enemy was, and would have far better success in taking them out.
If the GOP would find it possible to accept Ron Paul’s view on foreign policy, which have been backed by the former head of the CIA Bin Laden unit, and look at his social and monetary policies they would realize that he is actually the most conservative candidate in the election.
As a conservative, while I do not agree with the foreign policy of the Bush administration I can at least understand the (what I believe to be flawed) thinking of his supporters. However, I can not see how they can support the massive increase in government we have experienced over the last seven years. It is the exact opposite of the fundamental conservative ideology. When they addressed this in the last Republican debate Tommy Thompson said that, “We went to Washington to change Washington — Washington changed us.” It may have changed many of the members that were on the stage that night, but not Ron Paul.
You have to respect a man who will point out when he feels that the head of his political party is not following the very ideals that they stand for. In 2004, Paul said, “Mr. Speaker, I once again find myself compelled to vote against the annual budget resolution for a very simple reason: it makes government bigger.” In the South Carolina debate, when Paul was asked what he would do to limit cut the federal budget he stated, “Well, I would start with the departments.” He has also never voted to raise taxes or voted for an unbalanced budget.
As far as lowering taxes go, he makes Bush look like a Democrat. He would like to do away with income tax and replace it with nothing, which to my amazement, is only a little over 1/3 of the federal revenue. With all the waste in the federal government that we could do away with, it is completely doable. Surely, this is the kind of talk any Republican can get behind.
But still, Paul remains largely ignored by the GOP base. It is really too bad, because not only is he the most conservative candidate they have, but he would have the best chance when the focus changes towards the beating the Democrats.