Feb 22

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Death By Primary

No pain, no gain, they say. Well, right now we?re enduring the pain of the Republican campaigns that are intended to produce, by a process of elimination, the Republican Presidential nominee in the Presidential election that will take place in November 2012. Hopefully there will be gain, but that?s doubtful given the state of politics in the US.

The Primaries are very much a ?Last man left standing? process, as the candidates subject themselves to an impossible schedule of speech making, hand shaking, debating, fund raising, and travelling to every state that is conceived to be critical in the final vote. In the process they also relieve themselves of hefty amounts from their personal fortunes.

All this campaigning comes about because certain states are considered to be vital in swaying the rest of the country to vote in a particular way. Voter allegiances are not homogeneous throughout the Country; they vary from state to state and from north to south and east to west.

Within those broad boundaries, there also are large partisan pockets. Thus Florida, where I live, is predominantly Republican as a whole, but Miami and its environs is Democrat, largely because there is a significant, educated Jewish population there. Geographical political distinctions make no sense at all if you believe what?s right is right.

Just because you live in a particular location doesn?t mean good is bad and right is wrong. One of the major factors contributing to these disparate regional beliefs is a process called ?Pork Barreling.?

If a given senator or representative is influential through seniority, or more hopefully, through good service, they are likely to be more successful in bringing home the bacon in the form of government projects, the establishment of military bases, or any number of other things that contribute jobs and prosperity to their constituency, and coincidentally to individuals, who then become major contributors to political campaigns.

Therefore, independent of their politics, those politicians will get the votes that keep them in office while ever they can produce. This results in an electorate that is focused on local and personal need rather than the good of the country as a whole. This phenomenon is broadly more significant in states and regions where the population is less well educated.

As it turns out, the Republican manifesto is more appealing to the self-interested than is that of the Democrats. Thus, their platform of reduced taxes, less welfare and social services, reduced spending on education and culture, speaks to a constituency who are less capable or willing to see the big picture and the common good. It also appeals to those who are depende nt on structure in their lives ? the religious and the military.

The current survivors of the Primary campaign are a far from stellar group. We have Newt Gingrich, a quasi intellectual, serial adulterer who, as speaker of the house in the Clinton administration, shut down the government. The current front runner, Mitt Romney, comes from a very ?successful? Wall Street background, and a Mormon faith.

Also, there?s apparently more about him that we don?t know, than what we do know, and he?s not saying. His Mormon faith is only troubling because it is, shall we say, less than mainstream, secretive, and known for its proselytizing, all aspects that don?t mesh well with a Constitution that is based on the separation of church and state. Above all, a candidate who says he would keep troops in Afghanistan, and return to Iraq, two unwarranted and costly wars, obviously doesn?t learn from history.

The other two contenders, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are at best, not presidential. Neither are they particularly threatening, but they are not innovators either. America is in a critical phase of its history right now, in a world that is changing in draconian ways. It is a time for a firm, experienced hand on the tiller.

Too much government energy is expended on protecting doctrinaire principles, and too little on doing what needs to be done to right the wrongs of the past 20 years. An economy that is based on such frippery as the ?Social Networking? industry, and the dot com phenomenon, is like building a house on sand.

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