Editor’s note: a counterpoint to this article can be found here.
by Haig Pilavjian
To say that 2012 was a wakeup call for Republicans would be an understatement. Despite claims that as much as six billion dollars was spent by the Republican candidates throughout the entire election cycle, the American public still rejected the Republican platform. How were the Republicans rejected despite spending that much money?
The simple answer is that Republicans could not agree on one person’s vision to follow. Of the nine serious candidates, nearly every candidate had a predictable “fifteen minutes of fame” moment, only to crumble upon serious scrutiny.
Herein lies the problem. The party was frantically looking for a leader with a message they could rally behind. Herman Cain and his image as a Washington outsider flopped once supporters realized he knew next to nothing about foreign policy. Newt Gringrich failed as an experienced political warrior when his questionable ethics regarding his wives came out. Rick Santorum had a strong run with the religious voters, but this turned out to be just a vocal minority group. Rick Perry was one of the first candidates to rise and fall, but the persona he adopted was a major indicator of the developing rift in the Grand Old Party.
Between Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Perry, the Republicans have shown that they have reached a crossroads: continue with their world-policing foreign policy and pandering to the socially conservative or taking a cue from the Libertarian Party.
Rick Perry’s rise to fame was based entirely on cues from people like Ron Paul. Paul’s platform of removing five departments of government was imitated by Perry in his now infamous gaffe where Perry was only able to remember two of the three departments he wished to remove. Had he had remembered the third one, he might have stayed in the race longer.
The point remains, however, that preaching a smaller, non-invasive government appeals to voters.
In the end, the nomination of the Republican Party came down to Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, with the party opting to give the established Republican front one more chance. What we can infer from the election results and general support for Mitt Romney is that Republicans need to go in a different direction with the only viable option being to push for a liberty-based agenda.
Supporters of Ron Paul and Rick Perry were energized by the thought of not being under the thumb of an oversized government. Republicans may understandably not be willing to give up all their social positions, but voters have responded positively to the positions held by Ron Paul, and if the Republican Party continues to ignore this growing voice in the next generation of politicians, they may well continue losing their elections in 2014 and 2016.