Politics Magazine

Republicans in New Hampshire

Posted on the 11 January 2012 by Erictheblue

A couple observations, on the day of the New Hampshire primary, concerning the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, if an outsider may speak of it.

1. Romney is benefiting from being perceived as unlike the others.  That could change if Huntsman finishes a strong second to him in New Hampshire.  Then there would be in the field an "alternative Romney" as well as all the "nonRomneys."  If the comparatively sane part of the Republican vote is split, then there would be a better chance for the winner of the loco subprimary to challenge Romney, so that we could all enjoy the internecine competition into the spring.  This scenario is, in Obamaland, devoutly to be wished.

What qualifies as a "strong second" for Huntsman?  Reaching rearward, and pulling something out of the orifice back there, I'd say within ten points.  Paul, who has a plausible claim to being unlike the other nonRomneys, appears to be the main obstacle to Huntsman finishing second.  It's also possible for Huntsman to finish such a distant second--like, say, the "one" in 2-to-1--that it doesn't matter.  If the headline is "Romney wins big," and he then wins South Carolina and Florida, too--fuggedaboudit.

2. There is a kind of tension among the Republicans that might be described as conflicted feelings about "big government."  They rail against it when the issue is the economy, taxes and spending.  On other matters, however, they are themselves what they refer to as "statists."  National security?  There can't be enough government.  Abortion?  All the talk about "freedom" comes to an end.  In one of their most recent debates, Romney took aim at a Supreme Court decision from the 1960s (Griswold) holding that states cannot bar the sale of contraceptives to married persons.  I had not thought this was one of the Court's controversial decisions but it was a point on which Santorum was eager to agree with Romney.

Paul, unlike the other nonRomneys, is not a cafeteria libertarian.  His consistency does not necessarily show the libertarian philosophy to advantage.  He would not stop people from using contraceptives.  He would also withdraw from the world stage, stop regulating business, fire a quarter million federal workers, end unemployment benefits, rescind civil rights legislation, and probably disband the National Institute of Health.  There is a reason governments are instituted among men.  Without them, we live in a state of nature where, according to the philosopher, life is "nasty, brutish, solitary, and short."

I'll be voting for Obama, warts and all.

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