2012 presidential campaign is off to a lackluster and lackadaisical
start, and the Republican Party's hopes of finding a legitimate
challenger to face off against Barack Obama are just as lacking.
The prospective presidential candidates who continue to top poll after poll
are the same faces we saw in 2008, and they're just as polarizing, just
as unpopular among the Republican leadership, and just as unelectable
now as they were then. Of the top three, two are as loathed as they are
loved – and that's on the right, excluding half of the electorate –
while the other, though qualified, is as welcomed from within the
conservative ranks as a Starbucks convention inside Provo, Utah city
The Palin Factor
third, just as she did in 2008 (behind Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but
far ahead of John McCain) there's Sarah Palin, whose current popularity
(measured separately from her "attractiveness") has fallen to
bottom-feeder levels since she was chosen as vice presidential candidate
in the last presidential election. Faced with lawsuits and ethics
investigations during and following her entrance onto the national
stage, Palin eventually abandoned her governorship in Alaska halfway
through her first term in order to pursue a career as a political
celebrity, signing on first with Fox News, then launching a reality TV
series with TLC.
formerly unknown "Mama Grizzly" traded in state stewardship to become a
Facebook and Twitter icon – amassing 10 times more followers than real
Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House
Speaker John Boehner combined.
She gave up public service to become a millionaire and a celebrity,
effectively erasing whatever fantastical images America may have had of
her as being a rogue reformer of the Wild Wild West.
publicity, needless to say, hasn't quelled any of the skepticism
surrounding Palin when McCain introduced her as his presidential running
mate. She's still an amateur when it comes to domestic and international
policy, she still refuses to grant interviews to anyone in the press
who isn't a host at Fox, and she still looks like a dunce in the eyes of
any crowd that isn't handpicked from the Tea Party pool of like-minded
fanatics. She is extremely popular among the Birthers – those who
believe President Obama is a Manchurian Candidate who wasn't born in the
United States, and therefore isn't legally entitled to be president –
but conspiracy theorist fringe groups don't decide the outcome of
national elections, a reality to which the Republican Party is privy.
A "Palin for President" campaign, of course, assumes she would even run.
More likely, she's milking a potential White House campaign as a
publicity stunt to boost her image, sell some books, and earn a few high-paying speaking tours throughout the Bible Belt. Palin has as much
chance at beating Obama in the general election as Fox News has of
earning a Nobel Prize for ethics. She knows this as well as anyone. Even
if Palin managed to pull off a few primary victories in 2012,
conservatives wouldn't dare hand her the country. The Republican Party
may be stuffed full of power-hungry demagogues, but they're not
Nobody Hearts Huckabee
there's Mike Huckabee, the Southern Baptist minister and former
governor of Arkansas, who is utterly incapable of attracting more than a
few thousand viewers to his Fox News show, let alone to a campaign
rally. Though he may top Rupert Murdoch's list of presidential hopefuls, Huckabee couldn't rile a pack of wolves with a truckload of filet mignon,
which makes him about as plausible a candidate for the 2012 Republican
nomination as House of the Dead is of being inducted into the cinema
hall of fame.
The Fringe Revolutionary
Republican Party's wild card, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), continually
fails to reach double-digit ratings in national polls, but his
supporters show up en masse every year to give him strong presence at
the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. He is popular among
the young and overzealous libertarians but is largely ignored by the
media, mainly because his staunchly held ideological beliefs make him
incapable of striking a balance between idealism and pragmatism.
Paul's failed presidential bid in 2008, his status was reduced to
author of revolutionary manifestos ("The Revolution: A Manifesto"), and
it fell even further when his son Rand ran successfully for Congress in
2010 as a representative of the Tea Party.
That leaves Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.
may be the only potential candidate capable of overcoming the
triple-dose of fiscal retardation under Reagan and the two Bushes, but
he'll fail to make the cut nonetheless, and for the same reasons he was
overlooked as a running mate for McCain in 2008: he's Mormon.
is a successful businessman, he's rich, he's more than adept at pulling
in campaign donors, he's on point with the core beliefs of
conservatism, and he's chock-full of family values – even without having
But therein lies the problem.
No matter how good he looks on paper, no matter how good he looks in the paper – what with his chiseled, "rugged jawline" and his thick Massachusetts mop, which has "gone gray in just the right places" – Romney can't ditch his faith.
like the closeted discrimination surrounding Obama's race, Romney's
religion, whether admitted to or not, is a drawback that many voters –
particularly those within the Republican Party's base – will not be able
to overlook. It may be a pock mark on the face of a country that prides
itself in diversity and freedom of religion, but his faith nonetheless
disqualifies him from office.
the minds of the American masses, Mormonism is not synonymous with
Christianity, and no resemblances between the two will convince
conservative voters otherwise. Islam and Christianity share the same
God, their followers believe in many of the same prophets, and their leaders
preach many of the same sermons, but that doesn't stop the majority of
Christians from viewing Islam as the religion of extremist terrorists
who hate American freedom and live only to die as martyrs for the
anti-American cause. The same rationale, however misguided, will be
applied to Mormonism, and to Romney.
the uninformed, Mormonism is nothing more than a polygamist cult full
of pedophiles who marry their teenage cousins, live in isolated desert
compounds, and panhandle on street corners in order to fund their way of
not for Romney's established reputation as a successful business man
and a respected (though not loved) Republican governor, and if not for
fellow Mormon Glenn Beck's popularity among radical fringe groups, the
Tea Party already would have lumped Mormonism in with socialism,
Communism, fascism, and every other allegedly occult and arguably
unconstitutional movement they claim is trying to unravel the patriotic
thread that's keeping America tied together.
an albatross as weighty as Mormonism hanging from his neck, Romney
won't be an easy candidate to support, particularly among the ever-more
staunchly conservative Christian base of the Republican Party.
Romney is nominated, he couldn't win the election without dedicating
the majority of his year-long campaign to self-defense, explaining to the
American people exactly what Mormonism represents and allaying the
media-induced fears about incest, polygamy, and the 18th-century roles of women within the church. Such an education lesson
would assuage many fears and elevate many voters from the troughs of
ignorance, but it wouldn't do a thing to boot Obama out of the White
the primaries approach, the GOP will sit back and hope (and pray, of
course) that Romney eventually drops out. After he starts winning
primary races in key states, which he will, the GOP will stand up and
demand that he drop out.
showed it was ready to make history by electing a black president in
2008, but the voters who put Barack Obama in the White House were
expect conservative Christians to elevate the country's first Mormon to
such a powerful position will take an act of God, and not even the
Republican Party believes America is ready to make such a historic
stride on Election Day 2012.
(Cross-posted at Muddy Politics.)
Labels: 2012 election, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Mormonism, Republicans