From The Economist; full story HERE.
“IT IS now clear this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate.” So said the conservative leader Newt Gingrich to console himself after being trounced by Mitt Romney in the Florida primary in late January. But late January was an age ago in what America’s discombobulated pundits are now calling the topsiest-turviest primary season they can remember. As the four remaining candidates brace for elections in Arizona and Michigan on February 28th, all eyes are now on the two-person race between Mr Romney, the plutocrat formerly known as the front-runner, and Rick Santorum, the social conservative and culture warrior who was never supposed to stand a chance.
Just how Mr Santorum got here is a bit of a puzzle. His campaign got off to a good start, with a narrow victory in Iowa’s caucuses at the beginning of January, but he came fourth in New Hampshire and (after Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry dropped out) a poor third in South Carolina. The smell of political death hovered in the air at his thinly attended election-night party in the Citadel, a military college in Charleston. Nothing daunted, Mr Santorum soldiered on to Florida, only to finish well behind Messrs Romney and Gingrich again. And in Nevada at the beginning of this month Ron Paul pushed him down to fourth place.
What explains Mr Santorum’s surge? Dumb luck, say some. Plenty of candidates before him—Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Mr Perry and Mr Gingrich—have hit the Republican sweet spot too, only to be rejected once their blemishes became plainer. Looked at in this light, Mr Santorum is merely taking his turn as the final non-Romney, pushed aloft less by his own positives than by the negatives of his competitors, notably Mr Gingrich’s bloated ego and Mr Romney’s lack of conviction. In due time, it is argued, the laws of political gravity will pull him back down.
This column has argued before that when the media look only at Mr Santorum’s thoughts on family morality they end up with a caricature. He is in fact a more rounded candidate, with some impressive skills. These include not only the perseverance that kept him tramping through the slough of despond when others might have given up, but also a nimble and well-stocked mind, an approachable manner on the stump and—the big prize that eludes Mr Romney—a palpable sincerity. In Michigan and Ohio, he may also prove that he has another advantage over Mr Romney: an appeal to blue-collar workers that is hard for a member of the 1% to match. Mr Santorum takes care to give the coalmining travails of his immigrant grandfather a big place in his narrative.
The Republicans did not want their primary season to look like a coronation. That, to say the least, is no longer a danger. It is now clear only that a large share of the party’s conservatives just do not like Mr Romney. This traps the party in a fratricidal exercise that could continue for months, if not all the way to the party convention in Tampa in August. Even if he loses next week in Michigan, Mr Santorum should pick up enough delegates to keep his hope alive. Mr Gingrich is unlikely to quit unless he loses in his home state of Georgia on Super Tuesday, and Mr Paul will fight on whatever happens. There is new talk of an “open” convention, where no candidate has a majority and the call goes out for a white knight, if one can be found. Mr Obama is a lucky man.
Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is a liberal Democrat who has spent much of the past decade exploring the competitive strengths of conservatism. In his new book, “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion,” which will be published in March, Haidt makes several points. Conservatives, he argues, “are closer to traditional ideas of liberty” like “the right to be left alone, and they often resent liberal programs that use government to infringe on their liberties in order to protect the groups that liberals care most about.”
“Everyone gets angry when people take more than they deserve. But conservatives care more,” Haidt writes. And social conservatives favor a vision of society “in which the basic social unit is the family, rather than the individual, and in which order, hierarchy, and tradition are highly valued.”
What’s more, conservatives detect threats to moral capital that liberals cannot perceive. They do not oppose change of all kinds (such as the Internet), but they fight back ferociously when they believe that change will damage the institutions and traditions that provide our moral exoskeletons (such as the family). Preserving those institutions and traditions is their most sacred value.
Haidt is sharply critical of some aspects of liberalism. Liberals’ determination to help victims often leads them “to push for changes that weaken groups, traditions, institutions, and moral capital.” For example, “the urge to help the inner-city poor led to welfare programs in the 1960s that reduced the value of marriage, increased out-of-wedlock births, and weakened African American families,” he suggests. “It’s as though liberals are trying to help a subset of bees (which really does need help) even if doing so damages the hive.”
What the Right Gets Right, a NYT piece by Thomas Edsall, where, with the competitors for the Republican presidential nomination engaged in an intriguing and unexpected debate, he explores the questions: What does the right get right? (and) What insights, principles, and analyses does this movement have to offer that liberals and Democrats might want to take into account?
Full article HERE.
Thanks to the good old newspaper, you can do some last-minute work to get ready to vote on Tuesday. Yes, I said vote. Kentucky has off-year elections, so we are often out of the national spotlight. But, voting is still a civic privilege we cannot take for granted. So, if you want to eat something other than bread and water for Tuesday Night Dinner, vote and bring your “I Voted” sticker to dinner. Stay smart, America.
Check out how the candidates stand on the issues facing the race for Governor, Attorney General, Auditor, Secretary of State, Ag Commissioner and Treasurer.
Click on the PDFs below to read where the candidates for each office stand on the issues.
VOTING | TUESDAY
• Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. Anyone in line by 6 p.m. may vote.
• To find out whether you are registered to vote, where you vote and which races you may vote in, visit the Voter Information Center at the State Board of Elections’ Web site at www.elect.ky.gov.
• If you see election fraud, contact Attorney General Jack Conway’s office at 1-800-328-8683.
• It is illegal for retailers to sell malt beverages, distilled spirits and wine during polling hours.