The Republican Establishment is going all out to reassert its primacy, and now loudly proclaims that the results in Iowa prove its uncontested dominance. However, a breakdown of the actual tally in Iowa indicates a starkly different trend, which is likely to become increasingly obvious as the primary season progresses.
In a fitting epilogue to Mitt Romney’s eight-vote “victory” over Rick Santorum in the Iowa caucus, the former Massachusetts Governor has received an endorsement from Senator John McCain (R.-AZ) who some might remember as the 2008 “Republican” presidential nominee. Such a ringing affirmation from a politician who epitomizes every negative aspect of the Republican “Establishment” will eventually do Romney more harm than good. Yet he is not likely to perceive it that way.
Nor was that the only accolade Romney received from the Republican Party “inner circle.” On the following day Karl Rove, former George W. Bush strategist and consummate political pragmatist, applauded Romney while offering a cursory tip of his hat to Santorum. In Rove’s world, Romney’s likely win in the New Hampshire primary on January 10 would render him virtually unstoppable while Santorum faces a long and difficult uphill battle in coming weeks with little hope of actually prevailing.
Rove contends that for Romney to triumph in the conservative heartland as well as among the northeastern Republican “blue bloods” of New Hampshire, he must have established a nearly universal appeal spanning the political spectrum, which no other candidate could possibly challenge. Thereafter, such “centrism” must be the core of the Republican effort. And if, in mindless devotion to this flawed reasoning, GOP party insiders get their way, the nation will go into next November’s elections facing a choice between a ravenous liberal Democrat and a “business as usual” Republican. This is a historically disastrous course for the Republicans, but it is one that these politically inbred “experts” continue to trumpet as the best game plan.
However, since the early days of the Obama Administration (which in a strong sense was itself the abhorrent byproduct of brilliant “strategizing” by Establishment Republicans), grassroots America has awakened and recognized the critical need to assert real conservatism as the proper alternative to the Washington status quo. In a very real sense, the two party system has since been transformed and realigned, with the Beltway insiders and their dwindling cadre of supporters populating one party and Heartland America comprising the other.
Understanding the magnitude of the threat that this realignment represents, the Republican Establishment is going all out to reassert its primacy, and now loudly proclaims that the results in Iowa prove its uncontested dominance. However, a breakdown of the actual tally in Iowa indicates a starkly different trend, which is likely to become increasingly obvious as the primary season progresses.
While Mitt Romney, after vastly outspending Santorum, did indeed receive the greatest number of votes, it was by the razor-thin margin. With each of them receiving slightly over thirty thousand votes, this is hardly a decisive win. Yet even these numbers, on which Romney and his Establishment cronies base their claims of supremacy in the Hawkeye State, deceptively cloak the real picture.
For starters, Santorum received his strong showing in a field split four ways by fellow conservatives. Having to share the conservative support with Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann, Santorum nevertheless ended up in an essential tie with Romney. Had the conservative base been able to coalesce around a single contender as did the Party Republicans around Romney, he would have remained at twenty-five percent, while “Generic Conservative” could have climbed as high as fifty-five percent.
In contrast, no alternative scenario of shifting loyalties or departing candidates would yield any bounce for Romney. The overwhelming remainder of Iowa votes went to Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who garnered a noteworthy twenty-two percent. With a well-organized and fiercely dogmatic following, Paul has indeed established a prominent position in the field. Yet his base of support is made up of a mix of Libertarians who, for the moment, claim to be the real soul of the GOP, abetted by significant numbers of liberal interlopers seeking to nominate the least electable Republican contender in hopes of bolstering Obama’s chances for a second term. As such, they will do little to benefit any remaining candidates in the extremely likely event that Paul eventually drops out of the race.
In the immediate aftermath of the Iowa caucuses, Michele Bachmann ended her bid for the nomination. Were she to have done so barely twenty four hours previously, Santorum would most surely have gained the lion’s share of her six percent showing, and thereby prevailed over Romney by a substantial margin. Going forward, the departure of any one of the three remaining candidates presently splitting the conservative vote will likewise amass heightened support for each remaining conservative.
It is extremely telling that Romney’s strategy has been to prevail by ascending above a divided field of conservatives. In many ways, it is reflective of the games played against him four years ago by his new benefactor John McCain. And in the long run, this manner of politicking is liable to generate the same degree of disconnect with the American people that ultimately doomed McCain’s White House ambitions in 2008.
Yet even as cataclysmic as was the victory of Barack Obama in the last election cycle, a second Obama stint could increase the devastation to America by exponential terms. The national debt is soaring, expenditures are ballooning, the jobs on Main Street needed to sustain the nation (and feed the federal leviathan in perpetuity) simply do not exist, and every wise restraint placed on that government by the thoughtfulness and wisdom of the founders and the Constitution they established is being violated. Consequently, most Americans regard the possibility of another four years of such outrage as unthinkable.
Americans abhor the damage done to their nation by the Obama regime. But they have little affinity for the fecklessness of Republican “moderation” that would only serve to keep the nation in its dismal condition. In overwhelming numbers, the conservative people of Iowa rejected the prospect of leaving the government in the hands of a slightly diluted, but fundamentally equivalent overbearing nanny state that would only differ by way of calling itself “Republican.” On the day of the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum’s most defining virtue was that he represented an opportunity to rise from the present morass in which America finds itself.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, as has written for regional and national magazines. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.