South Carolina Can Settle the 2012 Un-Civil War
The Republican primary election cycle seems to have broken down into all-out war. While Newt Gingrich has gone over to the dark side and supports the meme of the left and the Occupy Wall Stree -types, Rick Perry's campaign has started a new funding idea for his campaign -- Romney ring tones! Of course, as with all ringtones, you just sample your "favorite" part of the song, and Perry did so with gusto, leveraging Newt's latest Romney attack.
Even the irascible Ron Paul chastened his colleagues and told them they didn't understand the free market. And through it all, Romney has continued to paint a vision for the future, stay on message, and...well, win!
Having just spent the last several days in New Hampshire, I can tell you that people are fired up. They are interested in not just voting, but voting with conviction. Having attended a number of the candidates' rallies and visits together with interviews of voters, I got the distinct impression that people believe that this election cycle is a distinct choice between Obama's failed policies and leadership versus electing a standard-bearer for the Republican Party who will counter Obama's binge-spending and allow America to prosper.
And with Romney's historic back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, it appears that the "big mo" is at his back. So we now find ourselves going on to South Carolina for what will surely be a hotly contested primary. In fact, so much money is being poured into TV ads that the candidates are even having to buy time in neighboring North Carolina (well, not actually, but it's great comedic hyperbole). Yet voters in South Carolina are beginning to pay close attention to the race in context of their own responsibility in this primary cycle.
We heard that New Hampshire doesn't follow Iowa's lead, yet Romney took over 39% of the vote. Early polling in South Carolina, while showing some tightening, still has Romney ahead. With the aforementioned ad campaigns attempting to sway voters, the race as defined by the also-rans looks more like the Democratic attack machine than a dialogue around issues and why Gingrich perceives himself a better conservative than Romney or the others in the campaign. Of course, as "bad" Newt has come out to play since Iowa, we discover the real character of the man who would be president. "Petulant," "angry," and "curmudgeonly" are descriptions that first come to mind. "Unhinged," "vengeful," and "destructive" also look a lot like Gingrich's recent behavior.
Yet South Carolina, with its larger population, diverse demographic, and "first in the South" primary status can do something that even a back-to-back win in Iowa and New Hampshire didn't do: put the race to bed. Now before you protest, let me offer a defense of this thesis.
For a very long time in this race, the meme that the MSM and Party Elites have wanted Romney as the nominee has existed as the reason for his ascension into frontrunner status. He has been criticized for every and all manner of supposed personal foibles; governance of a liberal state; RomneyCare; and, of course, "flip-flopping." Somehow, even his running for president since last competing in 2008 represented a negative to those who are hell-bent on demonstrating that Romney is just another politician whose self-interest and success see conquering the presidency of the United States as another trophy.
Of course, Bain Capital, a Boston-based investment company started by Romney, has become the new Wall Street in this race. So the un-Civil War that has broken out between him and his challengers, specifically Gingrich and Perry, would suggest that his winning strategy is more than they can handle.
Yet the contest is also about beating Obama and amassing the organization and funding necessary to do so. Obama is not about to go down lightly, and even the best candidate from the ranks of the Republican Party will be challenged to win. Interestingly, through all of this talk about electability and carrying the Reagan banner, Romney has kept organizing, running, and winning. Gone are the questions of the ceiling -- national polling is now showing him in the 30s over the five remaining challengers. Gone are the questions about whether Evangelicals will support a Mormon. Gone are the questions of an implosion in the Romney campaign. And gone is the notion that Romney can't take or give a punch.
Instead, we now hear that South Carolina is a last stand for the also-rans, the last point of challenge to stop a surging Romney. And of course, the MSM is pleased to oblige. Even some in the Republican Party, anonymously, of course, question whether defeating the "true" conservatives has left the party with a likely loss in November.
To all of this, I suggest that South Carolina voters can put a stop! The electorate this year is better-informed, better-prepared, and more interested than recent history would suggest. And the South Carolina voters are no different in this matter. The grassroots activism has generated interest in our political discourse that wasn't apparent before Obama took over. And as a result, they are less likely manipulated by the MSM, the Republican elites, or the warring that we now see going on in this cycle. That is not to say that this is a universal state of play, just that the stakes are so high and the voters so interested that they are now seeking out a balanced perspective before making their decision. They are doing this through the many sources available that heretofore did not exist.
So what can these voters in South Carolina do to calm the fighting, bring peace to the party, and refocus the attacks on the real problem -- the Obama regime? Well, they can fire the first shot in the South by making a clear decision in their primary and put to rest this race. They can vote Romney a win and reject the anti-capitalist populism that has now infected the righteous right.
Romney appears to be the only adult in the room with the capability to mount a real challenge to Obama and win in 2012. A resounding win in South Carolina would stop the talk of a drawn-out primary cycle, eliminate the "dead men walking," and allow for the consolidation of the party around one of the most competent and positive candidates in the race: Mitt Romney.
On the other hand, South Carolina could just as easily continue the firefight. But, just maybe, they might dislike Chicago even more and help protect the country from the likes of another imperial presidency. Will the South allow Romney a chance -- or, as some have suggested, allow the shots now being fired by Newt & Rick to bring low his campaign, thus plunging the Republican nomination into an extended battle which benefits Obama?
With the Southern Republican Leadership Conference and the primary forthcoming, Charleston will be the center of attention, and we will know soon enough! Sometimes, wars are necessary to maintain the union. However, you need to know whom you're for and against before the shooting starts!