by user DNL
To win the 2008 Presidential election, the GOP candidate is going to have to do two things: One, carry the GOP base; and two, win over a swing- or liberal-voting bloc.
There's little reason to think that Ron Paul can't do the first part. If Paul wins the nomination, GOP voters will find that Paul's libertarian streak doesn't envelope his social conservatism. Paul is pro-life and believes that states should have the right to ban gay marriages. While a lot of his believes translate into GOP-friendly norms via a dedication to federalism, Paul will still be appealing to the social conservative. Ironically, the same cannot be said insofar as heavyweights such as Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are concerned, due to the perceived liberalism of that pair.
For McCain and Giuliani, the hope is that conservative voters will go with the lesser of two evils, backing the GOP candidate in spite of his liberalism. Meanwhile, they'll pick up the security-first liberal vote -- the group that believes that Osama bin Laden is the most important person in this election. The other big-name GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, will find his candidacy doomed by the fact that he, like John Kerry for years before, is a flip-flopper who will be wholly unpalatable to swing voters.
So, Ron Paul can certainly carry the base. But his disdain for the Iraq War will not help him carry security-first liberals, and while he would carry disenfranchised libertarians like myself, we're a small sub-set of the population and barely able to affect an election for assistant to the town dog catcher.
So, what bloc can he carry on his way to victory? The Union voter.
Turn back the politics clock to 1992.
George Bush -- the father -- was the incumbent. He had recently supported NAFTA, as had his would-be challenge, Bill Clinton. In swooped H. Ross Perot, who rode in on a platform whose direct aim was to protect blue-collar American jobs.
Perot ran a hackish campaign. He bowed out of the race, but changed his mind as Election Day approached. He chose James Stockdale as his running mate; Stockdale made Dan Quayle seem palatable. Nevertheless, Perot took 18.9% of the popular vote.
One potential reason for Perot's success? For one large portion of America, he was clearly the best choice. That voting bloc? Union-first voters.
In 1992, "protectionism" was the buzzword that rallied the unions. Now, it's "immigration." The specter of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants given the right to gain lawful employment ("amnesty" being the term du jour) and of potentially hundreds of thousands more entering through open doors has polarized blue-collar America.
For Ron Paul, this is good news. Paul is a staunch supporter of "securing our borders", per his website. He wants to end birthright citizenship. He demands that illegal immigrants be given neither amnesty nor welfare. He echoes the Heritage Foundation in saying that current immigration "reform" would allow 60 million more immigrants into the U.S. This issue statement could have come straight off of the political platform of a Union pamphlet.
While the unions are near-certain to endorse the Democratic nominee for President, there's similarly little reason to think that the "official" endorsement will matter. In the 2000 campaign cycle, Big Labor had to deal with Al Gore's previous support for NAFTA -- support that made Gore unpalatable to the rank-and-file. Whomever the Democrats nominate, Paul comes out ahead. Witness:
- Paul on NAFTA: So called free trade deals and world governmental organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and CAFTA are a threat to our independence as a nation.
- Hilary Clinton on NAFTA: I think NAFTA was, in principle, a good idea to try to create a better trading market between Canada and the United States and Mexico.
- Barack Obama on NAFTA: And although I believe that free trade - when also fair - can benefit workers in both rich and poor nations, I think that the current NAFTA regime lacks the worker and environmental protections that are necessary for the long-term prosperity of both America and its trading partners. I would therefore favor, at minimum, a significant renegotiation of NAFTA and the terms of the President’s fast track authority.
For Union-first voters, Paul's clear and precise "threat to our nation" will resonate. His tough-on-immigration stance will carry the day.
No other GOP candidate can show how they'll win. For Ron Paul, it's easy: Look for the Union label.