By most calculations, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney should be the presumptive GOP nominee. Yet three quarters of eligible GOP voters, myself, have not warmed up to this New England Moderate.
Mitt Romney is an "Establishment" Republican, one who has been pandering to politicians and power bases to make the case for his election. He has been the most consistently polled of GOP candidates, with money and endorsements from major players in the Republican party, including Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Yet his support has hovered between a stagnant 20%-25%. The other 75%, Core Conservatives, want a more consistent and trustworthy candidate, one who can make the compelling case for his candidacy and against the reelection of Barack Obama.
This current split within the GOP is more than just a political division between "establishment" Republicans who want to win elections and Core Conservatives who Values not just votes. Hence the manic rise and fall of several other candidates throughout the past year. From Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's meteoric rise in her home state, walking away with the most votes in the Ames-Iowa straw poll, to the antics of pizza mogul Herman Cain, the super majority of GOP voters still want someone else. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's rise and fall and rise, followed by the Santorum surge in Iowa, with the quiet but steady rise of Congressman Ron Paul's libertarian legion, all document the division within the remaining 75%.
Within this grand Core of Conservatives, this division highlights those who focus on faith and family versus those who focus on freedom, particularly economical and political freedom.
Senator Rick Santorum has championed the cause of faith and family, stressing his consistent record of upholding the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of faith and religiosity in this country. He may support Big Government, but he sports a big family with a big commitment to the moral well-being of American citizens.
Congressman Ron Paul has advanced the more libertarian strain of conservatism, appealing to independents and disaffected Democrats along with Tea Party Republicans. He wants more freedom, which comes with the risk of marriage as an exclusively private exercise, as well as freedom to possess and promote drug use. He advocates for freedom above all, including limited government based on constitutional principles. GOP voters have either panned him outright or have flocked to his cause with informed abandon.
Now Newt Gingrich is trying to corral the best elements of both sides of the Core, so to speak, appealing to all voters that he has the establishment element of electability and voter viability.
Whoever wins the GOP Primary, the voters need to focus on freedom, not on faith and family. Those core values belong within the scope of the community and the state, not within the confines and constraints of the Constitution.
Former House Majority and Tea Party stalwart Leader Dick Armey has frequently asserted that the party lost its way because it went Big -- Big Government, Big entitlements, Big encroachments into the private and local lives of citizens and counties. Congressman Ron Paul is the most vocal and vibrant for limited government, sound economic policy, and non-interventionism. Newt Gingrich is visible and visceral, a persuasive speaker, an irascible fighter, and determined to best Obama. Neither one of these candidates figure prominently among the "faith and family" crowd: Paul, because his libertarian beliefs, if taken to the extreme, would allow for marriage of any kind as well as a suspension of the failed War on Drugs. These policies do not sit well with confirmed social conservatives. He walks what he talks, but some people do not like where his walk leads.
As for Gingrich, his personal failings have disdained many. Twice divorced, having led an affair with the replacement wife in both cases, Gingrich callously separated from his previous spouses while they were suffering through serious health complications. While conducting impeachment hearings against the adulterous Bill Clinton, the disgraced House Speaker was having a fling with the future third wife. His private conduct has distanced him from many supporters, and his ethical violations and financial flap with mortgage monsters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have dismayed many more. He talks faith family, and freedom; his walk is open for debate.
Whoever carries the nomination for the GOP, the voters across the country must focus on individual freedom, not faith and family, the latter two of which will be greatly enhanced under an administration that limits the federal government, ends the outrageous spending, stops the endless wars, and restores power back to the states and the people. Whether voters accept the questionable integrity of Newt Gingrich or the unassailable integrity with dubious results belong to Congressman Ron Paul, this nation would be better served by a chief executive who at professes and practices limited government in all facets of the federal government.