Tag Archives: Iowa Caucus
A Return to the Gilded Age
Who owns the presidency? An odd question perhaps; but for a race defined by unprecedented spending, state of the art technology, and million dollar ad buys; looking back seems to be the only way to make sense of this election—one that will surely redefine history…again.
While many of these tactics are by no means new, they are being implemented on a scale we have yet to witness; a scale that stands in contrast to so much of what this country was founded upon.
Looking back corporations and big money have always been closely tied to public office. Take England for example; corporate influence established a strong hold during the early years of the 17th century when Elizabeth I granted a royal charter to establish the East India Trading Company, one of the first major corporations.
As corporations began to generate large sums of money, they increasingly became involved in politics, despite the wishes of colonial America. To be clear, this was not a precedent our founders wanted to establish—a lesson today’s Tea Party would be well served by. In fact, opposition to corporate influence was essential to the American Revolution. Colonists dumping tea into Massachusetts Bay were rebelling against the moneyed interests of wealthy corporations and politicians that wielded tremendous political influence. It’s ironic that the original Tea Party was a public outcry against clientelism, graft, and corruption among elected officials; modern Tea Party and conservative ideology is an abhorrent contradiction and a disgrace to all those that fought and died for our nation’s independence.
Unfortunately, corporate influence over public policy has only increased and become less regulated over time, especially with the rise of super-PACs—a kind of corporate-political action committee that can engage in unlimited political spending “independent” of candidate and party. Super PACs are essentially what this nation is turning into—corporations, organizations, and wealthy individuals with unlimited amounts of money and the ability to raise funds without legal limits. So its not a far cry to say that 2012 is a return to the corruption and shoddy ethics of the Gilded Age, which influenced business and political discourse in late 19th century America.
Fast forward to recent events, and the similarities are striking…
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, was considering a $10 million plan—“The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good;” the plan stated it would do “exactly what John McCain would not let us do in 2008.” It would capitalize on President Obama’s relationship with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a “big, attention arresting way,” read the proposal. It further detailed a plan to hire an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who would act as a spokesman; the aim was to paint the president as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
This is just one example of what we are likely to witness over the next 6 months, and I promise it will get worse. The real takeaway though is the influence and ability of these enormous fiscal entities to say whatever they want without any oversight. In 2008, candidate Obama dominated John McCain in every aspect of fundraising. Small donations poured in from millions of individual supporters giving the Obama campaign the ability to outspend the opposition at every corner. This time Republicans are attempting to drown out that support with a wave of cash from a handful of super PACs.
For example, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads—one of the largest and most influential of the super PACs intends to raise $300 million by Election Day. The Democrat’s are unlikely to receive this level of support from super PACs, which speaks volumes as to how the GOP and the Romney campaign intend to run this race. When a mere 5 corporations make up the bulk of American Crossroads’ major contributors, it is clear that an elite group of very wealthy donors are attempting to put a price tag on the Oval Office. These corporate donors are spread across nearly every major industry in American—Bob J. Perry, President of Perry Homes, Houston Texas ($7 million); Wayne Hughes, founder of Public Storage Inc. ($2.3 million); Trevor Rees-Jones, President and CEO of Chief Oil and Gas ($2 million); Dixie Agriculture ($1 million), American Financial Group and Alliance Resources ($2 million).
And while the Democrats have sought funds from various progressive super PACs, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) found that this new wave of “independent” donors are mostly on the Republican side. True to form, they have risen to take advantage of court rulings easing restrictions on political expenditures. Spending by these conservative groups during the 2010 midterms eclipsed $400 million. It remains to be seen what the final number will be in 2012 once all the receipts are counted, but if early donations are any indicator, Americans on both sides of the fence don’t just need a voice, they need a megaphone if they are to have a stake in the outcome of this election.
Finally, I would like to digress for a moment in my remarks…
I still have faith in the American people. I profess that at times I have become pessimistic, or downright cynical. However, if you look at what the average American is bombarded with on a daily basis, is there any wonder as to why we often vote against our own interests, or why opinions are so conflicting? Sit in on any political science or public policy course in this country and observe how these topics are discussed. They are not presented in a partisan—right or wrong manner. Rather, they are taught within the context of both past and present. They are meant to inform so that you are capable of evaluating both sides of an issue. You are not informed by turning on 15 minutes of network news every morning. Instead, you are getting a sensationalized opinion, which leads you to believe you have taken a position based in fact.
So…I would like to leave you with a few facts
Around the time of the Boston Tea Party, Parliamentary races were underway in England, races that were not funded by the citizens of Britain, or the colonists in American. Instead, large corporations made generous contributions to the race and nearly every representative in parliament owned shares. This is precisely why restrictions were placed upon corporate wealth and influence in government when America’s founders began to organize our own government and the constitution that would bind it.
Perhaps one of our greatest patriots, and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, wrote a letter in 1802 to Secretary of State Albert Gallatin. In his letter Jefferson wrote,
If the American people ever allow private banks and corporations to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them, will deprive the people of their property and their dignity until their children wake up homeless on the continent their father’s conquered. I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
America must to be aware that no matter where your political views lie the fact remains: corporations are not a substitute for the people; they are not the voice of the people. People are people and that is a fact.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney eked out the narrowest of victories in the GOP Iowa caucuses on January 3rd. The effect: Romney’s Iowa “victory” reinforced his frontrunner status and gave him additional momentum heading into the New Hampshire primaries.
Now fast forward. Early this morning history was rewritten when the head of the Iowa Republican party announced that Rick Santorum was actually the winner of the Iowa caucuses. The former PA Senator is currently 34 votes ahead of Mr. Romney in Iowa, and there are still more votes out there that are predicted to favor Santorum.
In light of this news, Romney issued a statement this morning declaring that the new results show a “virtual tie” between the two candidates.
Wait; didn’t Romney somewhat jokingly refer to the initial outcome in Iowa as a “landslide victory” during a campaign rally earlier this month? Now he is calling them a tie and has thus far refused to make any further comments.
It’s a bit ridiculous that the former Gov. can’t even stake out an honest position on a certification issued by a leader of his own party. Not to mention a bit disturbing that Romney goes to such great lengths to avoid saying or doing anything that he cannot later refute, or flip-flop on.
Today’s news will not change the outcome of the Republican race. Mitt Romney will almost certainly be the Republican nominee for president, but just like McCain in 2008, we are witnessing another politician move from the middle to the far right, or anywhere in between if it results in a win.
Still I ask: do his interests really lay with those of the American people?
I guess the ends justify the means. So given Romney’s record, it was a victory, landslide, and a tie…whatever works, right?
Tags: Election, flip-flop, Governor Romney, Iowa Caucus, iowa caucuses, iowa republican party, Iowa Results, landslide, landslide victory, massachusetts gov, Mitt Romney, new hampshire primaries, Republican, Republican Primaries, republican race, Rick Santorum, Romney, virtual tie
It remains likely that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will be the Republican Party’s eventual nominee. Still, he faces a potentially nasty uphill battle in the weeks ahead. After squeaking out a historically narrow 8-vote victory over Rick Santorum in the Iowa caucuses, the Romney camp is looking ahead to an easy win in New Hampshire.
However, the former governor has reason to be anxious about his winning number in Iowa: 25%. Numerous polls have shown that Romney has steadily registered at around 25% among Republican voters, which means that three-quarters of his own party are still looking for someone other than Romney. This was evident last night when Iowa voters narrowly divided amongst three candidates.
Last night Rick Santorum came out of nowhere in the final days of Iowa campaigning to steal a narrow second place victory; the result of a strong grassroots coalition built around the former senator’s overwhelming presence in the state’s 99 counties. Additionally, Santorum spent about $30,000 on television ads and won nearly 30,000 votes, whereas Mitt Romney spent over $200,000 to win the same number of votes, proving that Iowans can’t be bought. Moreover, it appears as though both Perry and Bachman are out of the Race, which means that Romney can’t rely on a plurality of candidates to split the vote in his favor.
Thus, the greatest challenge for Romney will come from South Carolina’s evangelical population that will head to the polls on January 21st. If we take a look back at the Republican field in 2008, John McCain won S.C. by only 1 point over Mike Huckabee. A map of South Carolina’s 46 counties shows that Huckabee carried huge portions of the state where evangelicals were present. Had it not been for Fred Thompson and his 3rd place showing, Huckabee would have likely won S.C.
So what does this mean for Mitt Romney in 2012?
Basically, it looks like it will be a three or four man race heading into South Carolina. This is bad news for Romney because he can’t rely on a fragmented republican base like he did last night. Looking at the potential line-up heading into S.C., Gingrich or Paul could drop out after New Hampshire on January 10th if one of them fails to make a strong showing, which only spells more trouble for Governor Romney.
Romney will have a difficult time courting evangelicals that view Rick Santorum as a strong alternative. Going back to 2008, the Republican primary in S.C. was split amongst 8 candidates, which worked to Senator McCain’s advantage. The same will not be true for Romney who will likely face a dwindling Republican field in a state where he finished 4th in 2008.
If Rick Santorum can walk away from New Hampshire with at least a second or third place finish, then he will have the momentum to gain a first, or second place finish in South Carolina. This scenario only creates more problems for the candidate that sees himself as the eventual nominee given that both Gingrich and Santorum are poised to do well in Florida’s primary, which takes place only ten days after S.C.
If Romney was hoping to wrap things up quickly, he may want to think twice. In the coming days he will face a wave of attacks from Newt Gingrich who will say just about anything to prevent Romney from winning the nomination. Additionally, he faces greater opposition within his own party as Rick Santorum continues to gain support among conservative voters.
This all adds up to Mitt Romney fighting to gain the support of conservatives that think he is too liberal, evangelicals that are uncomfortable with his positions on social issues, moderates that view him as a flip flopper, and an unenthusiastic base. While his odds are clearly better than in ’08 and he is still viewed as the most likely candidate to beat President Obama in the general election, Romney faces a potentially long and damaging primary season; a battle that could easily come back to haunt him when he faces off against a strong incumbent president in November.
Tags: 2012, Conservatives, Election, Evangelicals, Florida, General Election, Independents, Iowa Caucus, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Obama, Primary, Republican, Republican Primaries, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, South Carolina, Super Tuesday, Tea Party