Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Suffer" Tuesday: What It Means for the GOP

I must admit that last night was both surreal and disappointing. My guy, Gov. Mike Huckabee surprised everyone by winning 5 states, but it was not enough to bring him out of third place in the delegate race. Yet, one claim that Huckabee can make, that the others can't, is that in 3 out of the 5 states he one with well over 50% of the vote, and he barely loss Missouri by less than 1% of the vote. Even with the surprise success, nothing changed in the standings. McCain is still the front runner, and Romney and Huckabee are competing for second. What is most compelling about last night is that the vote revealed a glimpse into the Republican psyche, and what they are thinking. Even thought Mitt Romney overwhelmingly won in the exit polls when it came to conservative issues, McCain still got the overall vote. Why? Simple, the Republicans across the country are trying to beat Hillary with a moderate. This a tactic that is doomed to fail.

In 1976 and 1996, the Republicans went to the middle, because the polls were showing that America was becoming more moderate. However, they ran against a liberal, and when the American people didn't see a difference in the candidates they went to the person with the most emotionally driven argument. The only times the Republicans have won is when they clearly show their difference with the other party. For some reason the conventional wisdom among voters and Party insiders is that when there is a strong Democratic personality running, Republicans need to run to the middle much like they are doing now.

Granted in 2008, there really is not one solid conservative that the GOP can rally behind, but the candidate they are choosing is not even close to what they need to win. Even though I believe Romney to be nothing more than a hair-do, or a convenient conservative who became conservative to win the GOP nomination; he is still a better choice than McCain. McCain's military experience gives him a lot of credibility when it comes to defense, but his willingness to be overly pragmatic makes his nomination sour in the mouths of dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. Many on the right believes that McCain would sell his values down the river in order to get things done. As you all know I love Huckabee, but I know that he has a few weaknesses. He is a little more moderate on immigration as he should be, and he did raise taxes in his state, but not as much as Mitt Romney, and he is not guilty of being a proponent of universal healthcare.

Many of the RNC insiders are gun shy after the spanking they received in 2006, but that was because many of the GOP faithful were disillusioned by their out-of-control spending. So, you would think that the RNC would have learned that returning to basic principles would be the answer, and recruiting a candidate that was conservative would be top priority. By the looks of things...Maybe not.

Leadership seems to be the one thing quickly lost from the Reagan revolution. If the GOP has any hope of restoring this country to its past greatness and keeping this country's economy and populace safe, it must return to the leadership examplified by President Reagan. Over the next couple of weeks this blog is going to take a look at what I like to call Impact Conservatism. I know that this philosophy will return us to Reagan's ideology, but also give it the necessary twist for a 21st century world.

Unless the GOP and the RNC committ themselves to the ideals that resonate witht he American people, they will increasingly lose ground to the emotional policies of the left, and then this country will be irreversibly changed. I pray we never let it get that far.

I am not a Conservative!

I guess if you are someone who believes in securing the borders, providing pride for the people of America by stimulating the economy by letting them keep 100% of their paycheck, that every life is sacred no matter if it is inside or outside the womb, and believe in a strong national defense; then you are not a Conservative. These positions are positions are positions held by Governor Mike Huckabee, but according to leading Republican strategists and conservative talk-radio he is not a conservative.

Governor Huckabee was elected to a state that voted for Bill Clinton three times. He was elected for Lt. Governor when Bill Clinton's Lt Governor was elected Governor, and became Governor when Clinton's Lt. Governor was indicted for fraud. As Governor, in a state where major tax initiatives are voted on the people, Gov. Huckabee signed miniscule tax increases that were then used to improve roads in a state known for a horrible infrastructure. However, he was able to cut taxes in areas that were detrimental to Arkansas' economy and was able to oversee the largest surplus in Arkansas' history. One should note that this surplus was a result of Huckabee's restaint in spending. Gov. Huckabee also took the 2nd worst education system and turned it into the 6th best. In a state that is prodominently Democratic a Republican Governor was relected twice. How? By being a populace. I believe if Gov. Huckabee had put his party over the people of his state, he would be the Republican nominee today, but He would never got past his first term and Arkansas would be worse off.

I would love to do what many of you asked, and be like the news media and only focus on a Maverick and a Convenient Conservative, but I would rather focus on the one person who I believe should win. There is only one candidate that could bring this country together, and help heal our wounds.

Even though evangelicals have been relegated to a corner, and labeled a kook wing of the far right; we belive in the greatness of this country. We believe this country operates under the blessings of our Lord, and when we move further from him, we move further from his blessing. Yet, our candidates are not given serrious thought, because in the past many of our candidates have been less than serious. However, Huckabee is finally a serious candidate, and he deserves his due. If you don't believe he is serious, I dare you to explain how he has spent less money than any candidate, and is in a very strong third, and stands to win a lot of delegates today.

What's Happened to Reagan's GOP?

Last night the GOP presidential hopefuls gathered in Simi Valley, CA at the Reagan Presidential Library, and the fire works flew. Governor Romney and Senator McCain -both the statistical frontrunners- spent most of the debate fighting over who was more conservative. In a memorial dedicated to the memory and the history of the greatest president in U.S. history, we had at least two candidates violating one of President Reagan's commandments, "Never speak ill of another Republican." What made it worse is both Romney and McCain claimed that "the Gipper" would endorse them. Really? A man who never blatantly attacked another Republican with false accusations would endorse one candidate who has spent millions trashing his opponents, and another who twisted a quote of his opponent to make him look weak? I believe that the two leading candidates have shown that much of today's GOP has moved so far away from the Reagan Revolution that they would not be able to find any simbolence of it with a microscope. So, what's happened that led the GOP so far from Dutch Reagan's dream?

Like in any great movement the "heirs" to the leader claim that their ideas are that of the previous. However, like a wicked game of telephone, the further you get from the origin the more twisted the original message gets. The problem the GOP faces today is that Reagan is not here today to correct any errors, and thus the most convincing orator can convince the party faithful that they are Reagan's heir-apparent. Yet, when they get to power they act like anything but Ronald Wilson Reagan, and the GOP follows in lockstep. If the GOP is to have any hope of finding their way back to power, they really need to take a long hard look at the real policies and attitudes of President Reagan, and then try to emmulate them.

As a novice historian of President Reagan, I have researched the life of this prolific leader. He is my political hero, and I hope to some day be half the leader he was. That being said I know that Reagan would have looked at last night's debate with horror and disgust. He would not have approved of Sen. McCain refusing to back down from his claim of "withdrawl" against Gov. Romney even after it was proven false by both the Governor and the moderators of the debate. The same horror would have been directed at Gov. Romney for his millions of dollars spent on attack ads, and his continual attacks on his fellow Republicans. I know that "the Gipper" would tell the candidates to focus on what brings us together, and stick to their message of hope and promise. He would advise the candidates to make a solid promise to reign in spending, and build up our defense. He would also support repairing this country's infrastructure, and using that as a real economic stimulus, and not the band-aid policies that are being pursued. He would tell the GOP hopeful to support life at all stages, and work hard to put people on the Supreme Court who believe the same. President Reagan would overall tell the Republican Presidential Candidates to stay positive.

It amazes me when the American people begin rallying around a candidate because he is well quaffed, or good looking, or is a war hero, or speaks well. When they should be looking at who will do the best job. They may not agree with every policy decision, but ultimately they need to realize that there is more to America than tax policy or immigration policy.

Now I have always been up front in my endorsement of Governor Huckabee, and I am still for Huck. After watching last night, I am even more convinced that Gov. Huckabee is the president this country needs. He is also -according to this novice Reagan historian- the closest to Reagan out of the whole field of GOP candidates, and I am not the only one. Nacy Reagan I am sure believes the same. She has not said so, but you can see it based on her actions last night.

On CNN you could see that before the debate, after the candidates had been introduced, Mrs.Reagan walked up to Huckabee and started a conversation. During the course of the discussion she slipped her hand into the crook of Huckabee's elbow. This movement was completely unsolicited. Ask any woman and she will tell you that is a sign a woman is completely comfortable with you. Also, she was smiling ear to ear when they talked, and any time Huckabee talked during the debate she was seen smiling. There was even a time, when Huckabee was speaking on state's rights, that the camera turned to Gov. Schwartznegger and you see Mrs. Reagan lean in and say I like him. For a woman who hated politics, and doesn't give her endorsement lightly, she seemed to be rather fond of the Arkansas Governor who got very little attention.

Ultimately, it will be a long time before we have another President like Ronald Reagan, but it doesn't have to be a long time to have a president and a Party that will emmulate his policies. Let's hope that the GOP faithful figure this out, and use the humble American from Dixon, Illinois as their litmus test for future candidates at every level of politics.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Soapbox

What You Get with the "Hope" Candidate

by Joe Shehan

On the eve of the New Hampshire Primary it looks as though Senator Barak Obama (D-Illinois) will upset Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) for a second time to win the New Hampshire delegates. With this win Sen. Obama sets himself up as the new leader of the Democratic party, and as one MSNBC pundit said, "he is now a movement". A movement to where? Racial equality? Well, I will agree that an Obama presidency would take a lot of wind out of the race baiter's debate, however, I believe his movement may take our country in the wrong direction.

For the first time in recent U.S. history there is not one true moderate running for president on the Democrat side. All three top tier candidate are selling a socialist, even communist platform. The only difference is that Obama is claiming he is willing to work with Republicans, and he has also been able to hide a lot of his desires in euphimistic language.

As the Author of the New York Times bestselling The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama outlines his dream for America. Hidden in the language of hope and dreams are very real nightmares and dispares. As the great hope to knock down the racial ceiling in American politics, Sen. Obama wishes to create a national affirmative action program. Nothing would be more detrimental to race relations in this country than mandated racial quotas where less qualified African Americans are chosen over whites for highly contested jobs. This would destroy everything that Obama's presidency would stand for.

Another nightmare that would be unleashed by an Obama presidency is unversal healthcare. Like many pie in the sky ideas that liberals/communists come up with, Universal Healthcare tickles your heart strings, but would be destructive to the quality of healthcare Americans receive. Granted, healthcare is in a pretty bad place right now, but it is still better than 99% of the world, and would go down the tubes if the government took it over. My example...Walter Reed Army Medical Center or the V.A. Ask any veteran and they would tell you that when they have the money they perfer to go to a private doctor because waiting as few as three hours for a doctor when you have the flu is not fun. A three hour wait is a good wait when socialized medicine is the only game in town. One more negative about socialized medicine is, like Social Security, it will not go away once enacted. If you don't beleive that Sen. Obama would vote for such a bill if elected president remember with a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate he would be hard pressed not too.

Finally, Sen. Obama would sell away our national sovereignty in the name of unversal brotherhood, and has admitted so much in his speeches. He would remove our troops from Iraq thus creating a power vacuum, and therefore creating more islamic radicals and terrorist who hate America. If you think that that is the price you pay for Bush's failed policy, well I think you fail to realize that the Iraqis don't separate Bush from America, and will blame America as a whole for destabilizing their country. At least right now they see America is at least trying to help. Any policy that does not appreciate that we are dealing with an enemy who does not believe he has to honor any agreement made with an infidel is doomed to fail and make America weaker. Remember it is our culture that radical Islamists hate more than our foreign policy.

I am excited to see that for the first time in our nation's history an African American is getting a fair shake, and may even stand a chance of winning his party's nomination and even the presidency. However, like Martin Luther King Jr. hoped for our country, I am judging Senator Barak Obama not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character (platform),and so should everyone else who is looking at the Senator from Illinois.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Soapbox

Say it's So Joe, Say it's So!

by Joe Shehan

Writer W.P. Kinsella wrote a prolific book about baseball called Shoeless Joe Comes to Iowa, but the rest of us know the story as the movie Field of Dreams. In both the book and movie there is a great quote which comes from the main character in describing his home state. It reads as follows:

" I woke up one morning and thought I was dead, but then I realized I was in Iowa"

Watching the Iowa Caucuses one would have to agree with this statement, except they're not in hell or heaven, or even a dream...they are in a real place and they just witnessed the most peculiar event in American politics, and as result America is left scratching their heads. Yes, Mike Huckabee (who was only registering 1% in polls 6 months ago) won the GOP Caucus and Barak Obama won the Democratic nod. Now, what does this mean for Americans and Texans?

Looking at the two choices it appears that the Iowans chose the candidates that at least promised change, but came across as the candidates that could bring this country together while pursuing change. Whether you agree or disagree with their politics, both Senator Obama and Governor Huckabee ran on platforms that were focused on healing this country and bringing us together. Sen. Obama chooses to use his position to expand the role of government in our daily lives, and Governor Huckabee seeks to lessen the role of government and bring people into the promise of the American dream. But again what does this mean for us?

It means dear reader, that those who are in power today need to be concerned with their grasps of their positions. The establishment candidates on both sides lost. Clinton took third and Romney took second. This shows, as what I have seen by talking to friends and family, that Americans are dissatisfied with the current state of government and with those who run it.

Since January of last year I have been warning people to be careful about chosing their candidate based on whether they can beat Sen. Clinton. Today's Iowa Caucus showed that Clinton's hold on the lead is soft at best. A third place finish in Iowa is horrible especially if you were the coronated favorite. The best candidate for the Republicans in 2008 is a candidate that can bring the country together. He may not be the most conservative, but he needs to be able to crossover and heal the wounds of the last eight years. Also - in regards to Huckabee- you gotta love a guy who walks out to give his victory speech to Monty Python's Flying Circus theme song.

One positive that comes from an Obama win in Iowa is that the racial ceiling is slowly being removed from American politics. An African American winning the presidency could do a lot to heal race relations in this country. Granted I am disappointed that it would be a liberal African American, but still I have been saying that this country is ready for a black president and Senator Obama may be the first black president. As much as I hate to say this, realistically speaking, a Obama presidency would not be as bad as a Clinton presidency.

It is getting late on what has been a very exciting evening, and speeches have been given and the rest of America is watching college football or are asleep. We have witness at the micro level what makes this country so great...democracy. Tonight men and women of all races and creeds gathered together in homes, gyms and churches to cast their votes without fear of violent reprisal and without fear of death. We should all remember and be thankful to all those who made tonight possible, and when it becomes our turn, lets be sure to do our part as well.