Santorum wins big, yet Romney stays ahead of him
(for now) while pressure grows on Gingrich to get out
Saturday, March 17, 2012
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
All in all, there were two big winners this past Tuesday and one big loser:
The biggest winner, of course, was former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum: for he won two more States which held Primaries, not Caucuses-- and, more importantly, these were States that actually bound Republican National Convention delegates. Combined with Oklahoma and Tennessee the week before, Alabama and Mississippi have finally put to bed the notion that Santorum can't outright win anything but Caucuses or non-binding Primaries (a legacy of his performance- whether good [Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri], bad [Arizona] or ugly [Michigan ;-)]- throughout this past February).
Senator Santorum truly now has momentum going into Puerto Rico's Primary this coming Sunday (18 March) and on into what promises to be an interesting showdown (given the results already known from nearby Ohio and Michigan) in Illinois come Tuesday the 20th.
But former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was also a big winner Tuesday the 13th (despite his not winning either State holding a Primary that day and notwithstanding the widespread impressions- both in the mainstream media and throughout the blogosphere- that he was not, in fact, such a winner): as he remains the front runner (in both our website's "soft" and "hard" counts, he currently is credited with more GOP National Convention delegates than former House Speaker Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul and Santorum combined). While Romney finished 3rd (behind Gingrich as well as Santorum- something that Gingrich himself made all too much of in his appearance before his own supporters Tuesday evening), he did end up the big delegate "gainer" (here meaning in terms of putting however slightly more distance between himself and his main rivals for the GOP presidential nomination) of the day-- if you factor in the concurrent events, this past Tuesday, in Hawai'i and American Samoa (if we presume, for now, that the support for Romney expressed in this last holds), Governor Romney gained 42 delegates overall to Santorum's 36 and Gingrich's 24 (thus, in terms of delegates [the most important thing throughout any presidential nomination contest, after all], Romney was + 6 relative to Santorum and +18 relative to Gingrich [who's coming in third now, Newt? ;-)] in all of this past Tuesday's contests)...
hence, the big loser Tuesday was Newt Gingrich himself:
for, above all else, Santorum well broke Newt's "Southern strategy" and- seemingly (Louisiana on 24 March will tell this tale)- once and for all! Gingrich might well have crowed (during that same appearance Tuesday evening) that- between the three major GOP contenders- he and Santorum (in Gingrich's mind, the only true conservatives in the race) gained 70% of the vote in both Alabama and Mississippi to "Massachusetts moderate" (Gingrich's by now well-worn characterization) Romney's 30%, but more than half of that 70% wasn't really Gingrich's to even claim!
One is sorely tempted to characterize Newt Gingrich's presidential ambitions as based on either delusion or hubris (if not both!); yet there is no denying that the former Speaker of the House is a knowledgeable man of much (albeit so often self-misguided) intellect and, above all else, a generally smart politician (as I've often opined on this very website, the very office of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is the closest thing, in the American governmental system, to a Prime Minister/Premier/Chancellor in Parliamentary systems [only without, obviously, the responsibilities of a political executive]): but, having said this, arguing that one's own grand vision for America is not going over all that well mainly because one's opponents "can't comprehend it" smacks of an undue arrogance that may, in and of itself, be far more responsible for Gingrich's difficulties when it comes to getting his own message across to the voters than anything else (the attitudes [real or imagined] of media and the Republican establishment notwithstanding)...
simply put: Gingrich's complaints in this regard come off sounding, more and more, like mere whining (rather ironic, too!: considering that Gingrich himself once noted- early in his Speakership- that the slogan on the license plates of New Hampshire drivers did not, in fact, read 'Live Free and Whine'!)...
on the other hand: whether you like Rick Santorum's ideas/policy proposals or not, the former Pennsylvania Senator does come off- at least in his public persona- as someone who could have so easily been parish priest instead of politician... in contrast, one can be forgiven for thinking that confessing one's own sins to Newt Gingrich might only result in the harshest tongue-lashing!
To be most fair- while I, in my previous Commentary, roundly criticized that which I therein called the "Gingrichian Hypothesis" (in which only a conservative can win the Presidency in 2012 unless a moderate is nominated [in which case the liberal wins]: a notion most nonsensical because it presupposes that the Nation as a whole shifts greatly from one side of the ideological divide to the other with the proverbial "flip of the switch"!)- there is one aspect of Speaker Gingrich's argument in this regard that is at least well taken. It may very well be that- although, with Gingrich still in the nomination race, Romney more and more pulls away from Santorum (and Gingrich) in delegate count as time goes on- Romney might well put even more distance between himself and Santorum should Gingrich, in fact, drop out: this has all to do with the fallacy behind the dangerous assumption that all of the future votes that would go to Gingrich would go to Santorum were Gingrich no longer in the race; fact is: Romney would, more likely than not, get a fair chunk of those GOP voters who might no longer be able to vote for Gingrich were Gingrich actually gone (for the Santorum conservative base does not necessarily so well dovetail with the Gingrich conservative base-- and vice versa!)
But none of this changes the rather obvious fact that- the longer Newt Gingrich stays in the presidential nomination race- the better it is, for sure, for Mitt Romney (who can continue to slowly put distance between himself and his rivals Primary/Caucus week after Primary/Caucus week as the 'anti-Romney' vote continues to be so divided between Gingrich and Santorum in said Primaries and Caucuses). Newt Gingrich out of the race would, on the other hand, create the proverbial "whole new ballgame" which- at this point, at least- is not at all certain as to its eventual outcome!
Based on past performance (while- as many a broadcast commercial for financial institutions themselves say- not indicative of future results), the average Republican voter yet continues to "cut bait and fish": ILLINOIS this coming Tuesday (more so than PUERTO RICO on Sunday) will do much to determine whether or not the 'anti-Romney'ites have, indeed, finally settled on a single champion of their own cause.
Now I will close with some notes on something that the more attracted my attention as I was waiting for the first returns to come in from Alabama and Mississippi after the polls had closed in those two States this past Tuesday night:
One of the best books ever written on the history of the Right to Vote in America is one first published in the late 1960s, authored by one Marchette Chute and entitled The First Liberty, an altogether apt title as the Right to Vote is, indeed, the very first affirmative right to be found in the text of the Constitution of the United States of America itself:
Article I, Section 2, clause 1 of that document specifically provides that [t]he House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the People of the several States, and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.
The term "State Legislature" as used herein (as well as elsewhere in the Federal Constitution) is here a 'term of art' originally intended to embrace all of that which is commonly referred to as the "political branches" of State government- Executive as well as Legislative- because the Framers of that fundamental document meeting in 'General Convention' in Philadelphia themselves could not know precisely what form the State governments themselves might, in future, take (the Constitution itself requires [in its Article IV, Section 4] that [t]he United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government but a Parliamentary system of government such as is currently used in the Provinces of Canada or the States of Australia [in which the political executive- the 'Premier'- is directly responsible to a Legislative Assembly (or equivalent)- which may be either the lower house of a bicameral legislature or a single chamber legislature in and of itself] would be just as much a "republican form of government" as is the current "Separation of Powers" Governor independent [or, at least, autonomous] of the Legislature that has become the "norm" in all the current 50 States of the American Union [modern, generally conservative, commentators who state otherwise conveniently ignore the historical reality that- in a majority (8!) of the 13 original States at the very time the Philadelphia Convention itself was meeting (the summer of 1787)- the Legislature, and not the People, chose the Governor or equivalent (please see the NOTES directly underneath this website's own table of the Length of Terms of Office of STATE Governors throughout American History)])...
by specifically referring to "the most numerous branch of the State Legislature", the Framers were- thereby- covering "all the bases" and making it most clear that, if one could vote for the largest body of elective State governance (whatever that happened to be under a State's own Constitution [it could, for example, even be a unicameral legislative body with a multiple executive 'committee', such as the provisional de facto government of Massachusetts Bay Province in the months leading up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord]), that same person could also vote in Federal Elections!
Thus, whatever restrictions a State might put on the qualifications for voting by its own electorate has a direct impact upon Federal elections and, therefore, a direct impact on all Americans who participate in such Federal elections. This is the reason why- now nearly half a century after its original enactment by Congress- the United States still has need of its Voting Rights Act with which to continue to "babysit" States of this Union which still- somehow- don't "get it" when it comes to the very Right to Vote!
The People of the State of Mississippi itself enacted- in their State elections this past November- new voter ID requirements that, where not racist in intent, are clearly much intended to the more disenfranchise the poor (who, or so it can be safely assumed, would not be all that supportive of the Party in power in that State during all this): the only thing that keeps these onerous regulations (in and of themselves containing rather strong echoes of the very issues discussed in the cases of United v. Classic and Smith v. Allwright [as well as the predecessor to this last-named case, Grovey v. Townsend], cases which I discussed in no little depth in a piece I wrote for this website almost exactly four years ago now) from at all taking affect is- yes, indeed- that very Federal Voting Rights Act (through which the U.S. Justice Dept. has to pass on any such electoral regulations in a State like Mississippi).
One might be tempted to refer to such things (along with similar restrictive requirements in Texas, itself recently blocked on grounds of Voting Rights Act violations) as 'neo-Jim Crowism" but for the fact that the State of Wisconsin- and one untouched by the Voting Rights Act (which had been originally enacted in 1965 to deal with undue voting restrictions in an American South still struggling over the issue of Civil Rights for African-Americans)- has, just this past year, also enacted similar provisions, the argument in favor of which was thwarting the stealing of elections, presumably by Parties opposed to that of the State's current Governor, Scott Walker (Republican)-- to which my only response could be: "sounds like someone found out how to well use the statute books themselves to well steal elections!" ;-)
The Right to Vote is, indeed, Marchette Chute's 'First Liberty' because it, in and of itself, is the very essence of Representative Government.
As I have so often pointed out on this very website, the Legislative branch of Government does not, in fact, make Law... neither do the Executive nor the Judicial branches of same... no, in fact, it is 'We, the People' who make Law-- for our Nation; for our respective States; for our Counties, Townships (where applicable) and Municipalities. But we can't be gathering daily in hours-long 'Town Meeting' on the National, State and County (or even, where population be relatively large, Municipal) level: else, none of us would be able to hold a job, raise our kids, attend school... the economy would grind to a screeching halt and we would, truth be told, thereafter, truly have no life!
Thus, our respective State Constitutions, through which we-- yes, 'We, the People'-- have granted to the State legislature the power of making Law, the State executive the power of enforcing it and the State judiciary the power to apply Law to live cases or controversies brought before the courts for decision... but it is ever our own sovereign Power! The institutions of Government are, in essence, merely "borrowing" it with our express permission as embodied in a State's Constitution (a document which usually provides for some things- bond indebtedness, for example, or amendments to that document- to be finally determined by the electorate [which is simply exercising its own already innate prerogatives (the People here saying to the legislature, in effect, "First, come to us!")]; some States also provide for ballot Initiative in addition to this simple Referendum) and subject to those for whom we vote having to come back to us for re-election from time to time.
Furthermore: the States have themselves created (the better to enforce State Law on the more local level) Counties or Townships and Municipalities (or their equivalents); and, in addition, these very States are themselves constituents of a Union ever made "more perfect" through the Constitution of the United States ordained and established by 'We, the People' and to which said States have themselves agreed to adhere (through either original Ratification of that document [re: the first 13 States] or subsequent Admission [re: the next 37]).
But even the voters themselves (that is: 'We, the People' ourselves) cannot deny- nor can we disparage- the Right to Vote of their (our!) fellow citizens- whether on the Federal or State (and, by extension of the latter, local) level- for mere political advantage or, worse, as a method of demographic discrimination. Under the guise of making the electoral system more accountable, however, we see yet more attempts to do just that and this is- in and of itself- altogether disturbing!