nothin's scarier than a blank page

29 May 2011

Libertarians Rock the Boat

Interesting article from Jan 2010: The Libertarian Vote in the Age of Obama.
Libertarian — or fiscally conservative, socially liberal — voters are often torn between their aversions to the Republicans' social conservatism and the Democrats' fiscal irresponsibility. Yet libertarians rarely factor into pundits' and pollsters' analyses.
According to this article, Libertarians swung back and forth in such a manner that, if the trend continues
Democrats will lose 2010 midterm elections they would otherwise win.
Time for the numbers.  14% of the voters are Libertarian.  Obviously 14% do not vote Libertarian, and the article doesn't mention which ones lean which ways.  More numbers.  A 2009 Gallup poll showed 23% had libertarian views.  A Zogby poll found that 59% consider themselves socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and 44% agreed that the term libertarian was applicable.

Who's kooky and on the fringe now?

Libertarians voted 71/27 for McCain.  He had good money sense and never talked about social issues.  Also, the idea of Democrats controlling Congress and POTUS was scary.  Younger Libertarians were more supportive of Obama, which really does make sense.  I'd be very interested to know how those people feel about him now.

Abortion is the social issue that splits most Libertarians when they have to pick R or D.  I find that mind-boggling.  On the surface, sure, of course pro-choice people would have a difficult time voting for a pro-life candidate...  But you cannot have fiscal conservatism with a big govt, and those are central tenants to Libertarian philosophy.  Libertarians who vote Democrat are saying that a woman's right to choose is more important than the country's fiscal future.  Yeah, it kicks me in the gut when I have to support pro-lifers (and so I try and do my part at the grassroots level to move the cause forward), but I just can't prioritize one social issue over the entire country's finances.  Who's gonna care about abortion rights when we're broke and hospitals start declaring bankruptcy?
Few of the voters we describe as libertarian identify themselves as such. But the Ron Paul campaign and the burgeoning opposition to President Obama's big-government agenda suggest that small-government voters may be easier to organize than they have been in the past.
I wish the TEA Party could be the new Libertarian party.  In many ways it is, but the social issues weigh us down.  I wish people could take their religion out of their politics.  I wish, I wish.  I suppose it's something that the TEA Party puts fiscal issues first, and the social issues aren't part of the platform.  It's small, but it's something.

Palin's Magical Mystery Tour

Sarah Palin's taking a tour through New England, and the media is abuzz...
click to enlarge
Where is she going?  

Palin ain't tellin'.

Her website has dubbed this her One Nation tour.  There is little information about tour dates/stops on the website, and even New Hampshire learned about her upcoming visit (detail unknown) through the press.  According to Politico, when the NH Republican party tried to find out details about the visit, "Palin's staff wouldn't even return their calls, leaving them to ask reporters for more answers."  Palin's staff, by the way, is incredibly small in comparison to conventional expectations and looks something like this:
Who could blame her?  Whether or not you believe the MSM hates her, you must acknowledge that Sarah Palin's name brings in record readers and viewers.  Palin does not trust the MSM, and, by extension, it would make sense that by now Palin would learn to choose her secret-keepers very wisely.  People love to hate her, and the pressure to sell her secrets, however small or insignificant, must be large.

She obviously wants to control the media's story about her tour.  She likes that they don't know what she's up to.  She likes that she gets to control the show.  She likes that, for once, the MSM is flocking to her to discover amoral truths (compared to digging up dirt).  Is this whole tour an Andy Kaufman style finger to the MSM?  Perhaps.  It certainly will be enjoyable to watch the press stumble over each other to find out clues as to what she's doing, when and where she'll, land, and, most importantly, why??

I'm reminded of Madison's Budget Bill protest rallies in February/March.  There were people gathering every day of the week, but Saturdays were the big days.  Friday nights, gossip would flicker through Facebook and Twitter: I heard Palin is coming!  Is Palin coming?  Palin's coming! Do you think Palin is really coming?

The mere mention of the possibility of her coming was tweet-worthy.  With various celebrities, from Jesse Jackson to Michael Moore, showing up to support the protesters, it seemed that the most important appearance would be Palin showing up to support the Republican establishment. 

Palin finally appeared in Madison for the TEA Party's annual Tax Day rally.  Her "Fight Like a Girl" speech was streamed live online, and hundreds of thousands watched.  And the protesters ate it up.
Here's what some people saw that day:

But here's what I saw as I stood in the snow, surrounded by protesters sporting noisemakers and hate.  (You can even see me in the crowd at 0:33.)

The protesters out numbered the TEA Partyers.  The TEA Party was there for their annual event.  The protesters were there in an "Our House" oppositional rally, the title meaning that the Capitol "belonged" to them (and not to Wisconsin's TEA Partyers).  They called, "Come one, come all, hear the call to... DUMP TEA! DUMP PALIN!"

That's some strong hate, y'all.

The protesters may have outnumbered the TEA Partyers, but it's Madison, WI.  I would have been surprised if they didn't.  This rally, in particular, highlighted a few things about Palin.  She knew the tense political climate when she came to Madison; she knew what she was getting into and did not back down from the fight.  She used the negative crowd as a platform to get hundreds of thousands to hear her speech.  The protesters gave her that gift.  Just mention the name Palin, and people will show up.

And that is precisely why the Politico quote has captured my attention.
Palin's staff wouldn't even return their calls, leaving them to ask reporters for more answers.

Palin's getting even smarter about how to manipulate the MSM to do her dirty work for her.  Her Madison speech, for example, got a lot of buzz because the protesters made it controversial; however, she had to share the spotlight with the protesters.  In addition, one of the messages the press reported was that America loves to hate Palin.  Nevermind the thousand or so TEA Partyers who withstood April snow and being surrounded by angry haters.  It was the two thousand haters that got the attention.  Palin had no control over media promotions and coverage of the event, but now she does.

Palin has been critiqued for not using more conventional, traditional methods of reaching out to the people during this early period of presidential fever.  She hasn't shaken hands in Iowa.  She hasn't reached out to the people.  But she's not like the rest of them.  She CAN'T shake hands in Iowa.  She's too big of a personality to publicize small scale stuff.  The only way to do it?  Incognito.  She can't tell the press, because then they would tell the world.

She also can't tell the press, because they would then own the story.  As is, she'll make small stops here and there, and the news coverage will be equally distributed between local reporters who arrive after the fact, pro-Palin tweeters and bloggers, and Palin's own footage.  She can control the story.

Palin is entering dangerous territory, too.  She doesn't need to win the hearts and minds of Iowa or South Carolina.  They already love her.  The one thing standing between her and the GOP nomination is people's fears about those who hate her.  So she's jumping into the lion's den and driving her One Nation tour through New England's politically rocky terrain.  Can she woo Suzie Workingmom from Connecticut?  I have no frickin' clue.  But it takes balls to try.

As for Palin's relationship with establishment GOP groups, she's not even returning their calls.  She doesn't even trust them  And why should she, when she's been burned by them in the past.  Her political and social views fall in the spectrum on the GOP, making her a party member by default, but her work in Alaska shows her favoring the actual people above the political machines.

Sarah Palin's magical mystery tour shows her working outside of beltway politics.  Her unconventional campaign shows her ingenuity and fiscal responsibility.  Her desire to put the mission above the media shows her dedication.  Her knowledge of the media machine and ability to not only out-maneuver it but also use it for her own benefit shows her understanding of public perception -- both controlling it and its importance, in general.

Everything about these early steps in her campaign shows that she has the qualities GOP voters are looking for.  She doesn't just say it, she lives it.  No wonder liberals hate her.  The big question, though, is why so many hate her -- and whether or not she'll be able to change New England's mind.

At the very least, her One Nation campaign does offer an undeniable benefit to the Republicans.  Any time the media hops onto a liberal meme (such as the it's-funny-because-it's-what-the-Democrats'-plan-will-do Mediscare commercial), Palin can come out from the shadows, cause a media stir, and swallow the liberal attempts to control public perception, and she does all this just by being seen in public.

That's power.

ADDED: I hit an emotional slump last night, due in part to researching people's online reactions to Palin.  Reading the intense feelings she brings out (both adoration and disgust) became difficult to handle, and I decided that I needed to take a few days off from the Palin Fervor, to preserve my emotional sanity.  But even I couldn't resist talking about her tour.  And this, folks, is only the beginning.

Size Matters

The taller candidate tends to win presidential elections.  This could bode well for Romney or Pawlenty (both reportedly 6'2" or taller, compared to Obama at 6'1").

How would height affect a female candidate's chances?  Would a six foot tall woman appear stronger... or too strong?  Would a short woman emphasize cultural worries about paternal vs. maternal presidential instincts?

I long for the day that we have a woman in the oval office.  I don't think I'll ever see it happen, but I do long for it.  I do not long for the likely onslaught of "presidential tampon" humor.