Letter to America
New Hampshire has spoken….
And, as the American Indians in the Westerns of my childhood used to say, this predominantly white, middle class and unrepresentative state spoke with forked tongue.
Mitt Romney did as well as the polls predicted. But in a sense it proved nothing much more than we knew before the good voters of the Granite State did their duty. The field hasn’t winnowed further and there’s still no obvious candidate of the righter wing of Republican Party for GOP voters to rally around.
The total votes cast in the Primary contest was much around the level of 2008 and that in itself must be a concern of sorts for the GOP.
The battle cumbrously moves on…
It feels oddly unreal…maybe a cross between a medieval joust and a Western rodeo…. without the excitement of either. It’s already flooding the airwaves of what’s known as the Palmetto State (South Carolina) with sound and fury. Gingrich has launched a ferocious series of TV advertisements against Romney; he’s replying in kind.
This is the state where George W Bush won an ugly but convincing victory over Senator McCain. It’s the state that’s voted for every nominee since 1980 and voted for Regan over Ford in 1976. This is blue collar, working class America. It’s southern and not yet deep south. It’s home to many Veterans. It’s strongly evangelical Christian. And it likes its politics down and dirty. If Romney divides and rules here it’s hard not to see him taking the nomination.
That’s not to say that there aren’t others who think otherwise. So far hardly any delegates have yet been won by any candidate. Iowa has nominated none. New Hampshire has only twelve. Before Florida – a winner takes all state – there’s only South Carolina. The new GOP rules state that all primaries before April 1st have, like the Democratic Party, delegates to the nominating convention apportioned according a form of PR. The argument thus runs that in February the conservative right has a last chance to find either a new candidate….Governor Christie’s name is mentioned…or for one candidate to emerge from those as yet left standing.
It’s hard not to think this fanciful conjecture. Romney has the money. He’s the candidate of the party machine and the Republican establishment. And all the others look straw-men.
Moreover the nature of the two parties is quite different…the Democrats again and again get swept off their feet by some new Prom Queen who often rises without trace and takes its heart by storm…whilst the Republican Party always safely marries the candidate she’s dated since High School. And the GOP hasn’t nominated anyone who’s not been a previous loser in the race for nomination since Gerald Ford in 1976…and Romney lost out to McCain in 2008.
So there we have it…it seems Romney has it in the bag but everyone still has that queasy feeling that the bag has got no bottom. The same nasty empty feeling inside the GOP has even found its way into the Fox News that tirelessly chirrups that Romney may not be all good but he’ll be hell of a lot better than Obama.
It sounds less like a winning tune than whistling in the dark.
Events may yet change everything. It could be the economy implodes into another crisis that takes down Obama…or explodes into a pulse of growth that carries him home. Either way for all the attention on the GOP field it doesn’t seem like any of these candidates is going to make any difference…..
Meanwhile the Supreme Court is cranking itself up to its full height. It’s got to think about redistricting in Texas and Illinois. The polity that gave us the word gerrymander still lives by that sword. Both parties are so wedded to its privileges the practice continues to flourish. The party that controls a State Legislature controls the redistricting in each state. Texas and Illinois in their different ways exemplify the institutional abuse. Each party now seeks to use race to achieve its end but truth be told both are as guilty as the other. The Supreme Court has historically been chary of intervening in the rights of states in these matters. And it looks as if it has no appetite to confront the problem this year.
Meanwhile, it has got to think whether the president’s health care proposals are constitutional. If it strikes down that law…then the election may become even uglier and more polarised than anything seen in the USA for a generation. And both sides are already firing fresh salvos in this running ideological battle.
Truth has long been a casualty in this war. Fuelled by big money from vastly rich vested interests….absurd untruths masquerade as fact….anyone who has heard Republicans describing the evils of The NHS will confirm. Yet the if the USA reduced the % of GDP spent on Healthcare to European levels then the US deficit would be permanently resolved.
Alice would be left in wonder…but then the philosopher’s stone of party has a way of turning absurdity into political reality.