If the latest poll is to be believed, Americans are crying out for change. They’re fed up with a Congress which almost forced a debt default, they’re appalled by the debt, the deficit, and now the downgrade, but most of all, they’re angry at President Obama’s inability to ease unemployment, despite his enormous economic stimulus package.
So forget what Obama used to say in 2008, if Republicans pick the right candidate next summer, 2012 will be the year when change really comes to America.
Picking the right candidate however, is more easier said than done. As things stand everything points to a showdown between moderate-turned right-winger Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Michelle Bachmann; more right-wing than the first two put together. The problem with these three is that while Americans are pretty united in their disapproval of President Obama’s failed policies, there’s little appetite for an equally divisive alternative; albeit one from the other side of the political spectrum.
What American needs, and what a large proportion of Americans are now demanding, is a President with the ability to unite them: someone who’s economically responsible but socially tolerant. To put it simply: a moderate. Rick Perry will have a hard job appealing to moderates after he called Darwin’s theory on evolution, something “that’s out there” and Michelle Bachmann has made more enemies than friends having repeatedly said that she would support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage or its equivalent.
While these positions play well with the Christian Right, moderates and independents won’t side with a candidate so quick to dismiss established scientific theory in favour of evangelical extremism. Nor are they likely to accept someone who so clearly fails to accept others.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like Michelle Bachmann’s style. I disagree with much of what she says but I like the way she says it. Similarly Rick Perry makes all the right noises when discussing the national debt and unemployment, and there’s definitely something appealing about that Texan swagger and laid-back charm after three years of Obama’s overblown rhetoric. But all the evidence so far suggests that neither has what it takes to win the centre-ground next November. What Republicans need, what moderates are crying out for, is a big personality to enter the race and offer a real alternative to President Obama; an alternative in tune with mainstream opinion on issues such as climate change, homosexuality and evolution.
Personally I’d like to see Rudy Giuliani throw his hat into the ring; possibly with Paul Ryan, Congressman for Wisconsin, on the ticket as well. What’s changed since Giuliani’s failed 2008 run? Well for starters, no-one expected Obama to be this liberal, or for the economy to remain so stagnant. Four more years of Obama would mean four more years of staring into the economic abyss. It would mean the entrenchment of unpopular healthcare reforms, it would probably mean tax rises for the middle classes and it would almost certainly mean further stalemate in Congress. Those on the Right, including the Tea Party, must recognise that a candidate like Bachmann or Perry would be unlikely to garner enough support to defeat Obama at a general election. It’s not impossible certainly, but its too big a gamble to take. Better to select a moderate Republican like Giuliani, and therefore stand a better chance of winning back the White House next year.
Giuliani, as New York Mayor, won praise from all angles for his leadership after the 9/11 attacks ten years ago. He’s a brash big-hitter with enough experience to take the fight to President Obama. And better still, Giuliani’s record as a moderate makes him more likely to unite Americans rather than divide them. With the economically astute Paul Ryan at his side, America would have a real choice next year: more aimless liberalism under Obama, or fresh economic leadership from the Republicans. Lets hope Americans are given that choice.