The only way Republicans will take back the presidency is if they elect a libertarian into the White House this November.
Republicans are in massively dire straits in election 2012. A surging Rick Santorum has up-ended the GOP primaries after winning a string of primary contests earlier this month, putting the viability of Mitt Romney as an electable presidential candidate in serious doubt. Santorum and Romney are now in a statistical dead heat in the “battle ground state” of Michigan.
In light of all the chaos, President Barack Obama currently holds a double-digit polling lead over both Romney and Santorum in any hypothetical election scenario. Watching as the 2012 election turns into a massive fail, the GOP is antsy. In order to avoid a Republican fail-safe plan — a brokered convention — Romney must win in Michigan, else it will be 6-deep for his campaign.
Ahead of the Tuesday Michigan primary, there has been excessive talk of such a brokered convention. But many political pundits are missing the obvious: the only real way to unify the GOP and win in 2012 is through Ron Paul.
The nuclear option for Romney is “Rom Paul,” in which the moderate former Massachusetts governor joins with the libertarian Texas congressman. Honestly, this should be the only “brokered convention” that Republicans should be considering. Rom Paul would bridge the growing gap among differing conservative ideologies, providing a presidential ticket that mixes fiscal austerity and limited foreign policy stances that are popular in American society today with a moderate social platform that isn’t as abrasive as Santorumanism. The pairing would also help Republicans appeal to vital groups: moderates, progressives, millennials, and capitalists.
Rom Paul would bring harmony to a bitter Republican primary race.
Currently, though, there is no end in sight to the fighting. Conservative civil war has erupted, disunity reigns. The Wall Street Journal argued earlier this month that the GOP primary will run into May or June (George W. Bush in 2000 and John McCain in 2008 had won their respective primary battles by the middle of March), making this the most “grueling” GOP race in modern history.
If Republicans were more unified in their battle to unseat one of the most unpopular presidents in modern history, then they could have a true fighting chance. But for a party that is facing an identity crisis — filled with the juxtaposition of evangelical conservatives, fiscal hawks, foreign policy hawks, Tea Partiers, libertarians, neocons, and moderates — “unity” in itself will be a “grueling” process.
As I’ve argued on PolicyMic before, unity lies in uniting Paul and his supporters with the wider party.
Rom Paul is the best option for the GOP. And it’s not that beyond the realm of possibilities.
Earlier this month, the New York Times pointed to a budding friendship between Paul and Romney, one that has seemingly turned into a political alliance.
On Monday, liberal blog Think Progress took the Paul-Romney hypothesis a step further, showing that Paul has not once directly attacked Romney in any of the 22 GOP debates this primary cycle. In comparison, Think Progress shows that Paul has directly attacked Rick Santorum 22 times and Newt Gingrich eight times.
The graph might be a bit misleading, over-playing the Rom Paul alliance. The Paul and Romney camps have been at each other in recent weeks over the results of the Maine caucus, in which Romney narrowly edged out Paul after state officials called the race despite some precincts not having reported their results yet. Paul aides say they are fiercely contesting the race with all GOP rivals, including Romney.
Still, the Rom Paul relationship is something that should not be discarded as abstract musings. Paul would draw in massively critical demographics. He is the quintessential Tea Partier. Young people love him and are hugely inspired by his policy platform. Progressives and liberals can easily jump on the Paul bandwagon. Military folks overwhelmingly love him.
Paired with a more mainstream conservative like Romney, the GOP ticket would truly be able to call itself “electable.” Imagine the one-two punch a Rom Paul ticket could provide: Romney’s money machine juggernaut competing with Obama and the Democrats’ Super PACS, while Paul rains down a storm of philosophical and policy counterpoints that would unhinge Obama’s own platform.
It makes perfect sense.
In an age where conservative thought is far from unified, Rom Paul provides a sensible middle ground for conservatives to jump on, especially as the GOP primaries become more chaotic. Any brokered convention talk to start by figuring out how to bring libertarians into the fold.
Photo Credit: Eric Broder Van Dyke