Since the Iowa straw poll recently finished, the popularity of Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul in the eyes of many Republicans cannot be denied. Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and newcomer Rick Perry all placed relatively low in comparison, though Gov. Perry was less enthusiastic than Paul or Bachmann in campaigning prior to this Republican popularity contest of sorts. I’m not surprised at the standings, such as 3rd place’s Tim Pawlenty, from the same state as Bachmann (Missouri) and apparently nearly as insistent with his religious fervor. The most important theme for the various conservatives clamoring for a nomination, excluding the more reserved Mormon candidates Romney and Huntsman, was the strong Christian convictions of the candidates. Everyone from Ron Paul, generally not speaking much about his personal beliefs, to Michelle Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty, in the vein of Rick Perry, who all spoke strongly about changing the country back to its Christian roots (imaginary as they might be). The importance of the religious beliefs of these various Republican candidates can’t be stressed enough, but is it possible they’re trying too hard?
Rick Perry is the most obvious candidate that missed the forest for the trees. Trying to look like a devout believer in Jesus and God by organizing a “private” prayer rally for Christians (mostly evangelicals) to try to solve the nation’s woes doesn’t get around what more politically minded people observe about his poor track record in Texas. His reelections may have been due merely to appealing to evangelicals in his state more than trying to solve real issues. He apparently doesn’t have much of a solution to droughts or economic issues in this country; he just thinks praying to God or bringing together a group of Christians in a stadium will make things better; like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. It’s no wonder he got in the bottom percentile of the
Ames Straw Poll, since he had to write himself in.
Michele Bachmann, on the other hand, is a sort of balance between Rick Perry and Ron Paul (hey, same initials, too, lol). She does speak openly in part about her Christian beliefs, but she also tries to focus on policy issues and advocate change towards her own political goals, ideology and agenda. What that agenda is I’m not certain of, but I am not comfortable in the slightest with having her as a Republican nominee, since she seems to base these political ideas on her Christianity almost primarily. Unfortunately, at this rate, she’s neck and neck with Ron Paul, who’s commonly a black sheep amongst the Republican Party. Bachmann may yet get the nomination, which means Ron Paul, assuming he gets a nomination from the Libertarian Party, which I believe he did last election cycle, would be a third party to balance what appears to be a future conflict of Obama and Bachmann. Though if the race for Democratic nomination before 2008 was any indication of America’s trust in female candidates, Bachmann may only barely have enough popularity to get nominated by the GOP, but then lose to America’s inevitable sexism and resilient intelligence in the face of the bigotry Bachmann has espoused before, particularly towards gay people. Of course, she’s hardly a step away from Sarah Palin, so that won’t help either, since she might’ve been partly why McCain lost.
Ron Paul is a nice conservative in every sense of the term. He’s for small government, fiscal responsibility, pro life (I didn’t say I agreed with everything he espouses, did I?) and he’s clearly more moderated in his expression of religious beliefs. He’s been very consistent in not speaking about his Christianity, but he has felt compelled in rare incidents to speak about his Christianity. I can respect the man for being truthful and up front about his religion when he sees it as a prudent decision. He also sees that, for the most part, there’s little reason to use your Christian beliefs to pull in votes, since those votes might be less than sincere in terms of policy agreement and the like. Just voting for someone because they share your beliefs or worldview in one sense is indicates that you don’t take politics seriously in any form. It’d be no different than me looking for an atheist presidential candidate and putting all my money into their campaign. It’d be a lost cause from the beginning because of America’s persistent discrimination and stigma against atheism in general. Not to mention the candidate could be a more centrist and populist sort of politician, so I’d be wasting my money all the more on a candidate that wouldn’t be as effective, in my opinion. So I’d rather go with a Christian man who I disagree with in terms of spiritual convictions, but I can agree with in principle about political convictions.
All in all, these candidates all seem to be relatively certain in their Christian beliefs, though there is an obvious age gap between Perry and Bachmann on the one hand and Paul on the other of about 20 odd years, but John McCain ran for president and got the GOP nomination and he was in his early 70s, so age is rarely a factor, though people allegedly would still trust a Mormon over a septuagenarian. This doesn’t necessarily boost any chances Romney or Huntsman have of being nominated, since policy wise they’re either flip flopping in the case of Romney or more controversial than even Ron Paul in Huntsman’s case, since it’s usually Democrats who support civil unions. My prediction is still Bachmann just for sheer popularity she’s had, plus the precedent Ron Paul has set of not gaining enough prestige in the GOP to warrant their nomination. But at least he’s consistent, so I’d rather vote for him and swing things towards a Democrat who has a bit more sense or willingness to negotiate (Obama) than ever vote for a Republican who I cannot agree with in any conceivable sense on basic policies and would be so stubborn she’d choose to destroy any hopes of bipartisanship before even compromising slightly. It’s choosing the lesser of two evils; voting for a minority candidate and hoping to change percentiles slightly or voting for someone you think is preferable to what you think is a better political practice of sorts. People will vote however they will, though, so it’s a matter of motivation to enter the fray as opposed to willingness to tow the party line your parents have. So until next time Namaste and aloha.