Evans Liberal Politics, August 30, 2010, by Paul Evans:
The Tea Party enjoys a 25 or 26 percent popularity in America and 80 percent of them identify as belonging to the Republican Party. "Out of 50 states, just 3 candidates won while claiming to be Tea Party members Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada (both running for Congress) and Nikki Haley of South Carolina (running for governor)." Of course, the Republican Party is now pretty much a regionalized, Southern and Western concern, with only 25 percent of the population having a "very positive" or "somewhat positive" view of the GOP. This is actually lower than for Dick Cheney, who comes in at 26 percent popularity. Still, 2008 was closer than that, the GOP is now backed by Wall Street and big corporation dollars, and there are plenty of on-the-line, Reagan Democrat and Independent voters who swing Republican at times. Only 32 percent of Independents want the Democrats to keep control of Congress in the Fall elections, whereas Obama took 52 percent of the Independent vote in 2008. This is a very worrisome trend for Democrats.
Much has been made of a looming "enthusiasm gap," with conservative Republicans much more enthusiastic about voting this fall (51 percent of conservative Republicans are enthusiastic) versus just 29 percent of liberal Democrats describing themselves as enthusiastic to vote. 9 out of 10 Independents cite the economy as the main reason they now are against Democrats as prospective voters, and the economy is not cooperating, probably headed for the second dip of a double dip Great Recession (or Depression, according to some), just in time for this fall's elections.
It's hard to say the kind of shape the economy will be in by November, 2012. But with the prospect of a gridlocked Congress after this fall's elections, it's unlikely that anything really positive will get done afterword that Obama can point to in an election campaign. Obama has had his two year opportunity and has shaped some important reforms (health care, Wall Street reform, the stimulus), yet the conservative media has done an excellent job painting the picture of a somewhat unsuccessful legislative accomplishment, despite this. The nomination of a very conservative candidate like Sarah Palin is Obama's best hope for an easy reelection, with a lot of anger about how bad things are permeating the nation.The Republican Presidential Field for 2012
According to MSNBC, Palin currently enjoys a leading popularity among potential Republican nominees, with a 76 percent approval rating among GOP Party members. The next nearest personality, Arkansas' Mike Huckabee, is at a 65 percent popularity. Mitt Romney, who came close to getting the nomination in 2008, and is an establishment insider who is somewhat handicapped by the fact that he is a Mormon. Romney is still popular and might even be considered the front-runner at this point, and there has been a lot of talk and machinations from Newt Gingrich, who has a certain following. But what about that "other" Republican, Libertarian Party leader Dr. Ron Paul?
Many liberals frankly just don't have enough information to properly assess Dr. Paul. We know that he is anti-corporatist, which we like a lot, and that he pretty much advocates a return to a gold standard, and that he is very much against corruption in the Federal Reserve, and works with committed liberals like Alan Grayson in such matters. Describing Obama himself as something of a corporatist, which progressives find sadly all too true, Paul debunked the right wing myth of the President as a socialist back at the end of April. Dr. Paul is an retired obstetrician/gynecologist, and thus an educated man who has some subtlety to his vision of the world, unlike Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee.
He also has a certain reputation, and there is a certain amount of evidence for this, to the effect that he has made a number of statements evidencing a certain prejudice towards African-Americans. Dr. Paul answered those charges in a CNN News video. Apparently the charges originated mainly from some 10 to 15 year old semiofficial Libertarian newsletters with some prejudiced comments that had Paul's name on them, but apparently he did not write the comments, and we ourselves do not feel that Dr. Paul is at all racist. I think it was a bit of a witch hunt, as Paul says. Dr. Paul certainly advocates non-violent protest in the same vein as, and very much supporting, the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi.
A very positive video, put out by America Restored, with footage of C-SPAN video of Dr. Paul's speeches and material from MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, from April 6, 2009, contains a concise statement of some of Ron Paul's Constitutional and governmental views. It has a title to the effect that Ron Paul does not plan to run for President in 2012. The video ends with a statement that the reason people like Dr. Paul so much in the countryside is that his love for America is foremost in his mind, more than his personal ambition -- a rare quality among politicians. The problem we liberals have with Dr. Paul, besides his appalling wish to return us to a gold standard, is that he is so anti-government in his strict constructionist Constitutional interpretation, and that this leads to his strong emphasis on small government, which liberals find to be not too practical in today's society.
Dr. Paul is certainly against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, challenging the whole GOP foreign policy agenda. Paul has made some strong statements against the bloated intelligence community which appeal to liberals like me. He also would pardon all nonviolent drug offenders, which he feels is strongly racist towards blacks, since 14 percent of of blacks in the cities end up in prison for drug crimes.
So Ron Paul is not the devil to some of us liberals, as are Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck is self-evidently a charlatan, without any experience at working in the news field, yet very popular among a certain segment of the Republican base. Sarah Palin's homey, aw shucks folks, gee I'll have to get back with you on that interviews still apparently fly with this base -- evidence the 76 percent popularity rating among Republicans mentioned above -- and she has to be considered the leading politician in the field of potential Republican candidates for 2012. Sadly.
Rand Paul, Dr. Paul's 47 year old son, is the GOP candidate from Kentucky for United States Senator for 2010, and Kentucky has to be considered a Republican state. He was actively opposed by Mitch McConnell in the primaries. Rand Paul got into a little trouble for a stand he took about the 1964 Civil Rights act, which Politico correctly described as a stand (against the Civil Rights act) narrowly based on his own Libertarian Constitutional principles rather than any real prejudice. Other thoughtful liberal sources concur that Rand Paul is really far more adamantly free market and against limitations placed on business by one small portion of the 1964 Civil Rights act than he is in any way unusually prejudiced or any more racist than most successful whites (let's face it).
He has in fact been mentioned as a potential Republican nominee for 2012, getting some attention at Salon.com as a potential nominee. A Rand Paul candidacy is not altogether improbable either. As Salon says:
"on the surface this is a silly idea. The 47-year-old Paul has no previous experience in government or politics and will, in '12, have been a senator for just two years. Plus, given the realities of modern presidential politicking, he'd essentially need to begin campaigning a few months into his freshman term.
But when you look closer, it starts to make sense, for two basic reasons: 1) The political atmosphere has never been more favorable for Ron Paul's brand of libertarianism; and 2) Ron Paul himself will be 77 years old in 2012. In other words, the old man may not feel like spending another two years of his life running around the country, but with a son in the Senate, he'd have someone to pass the torch to.