Friday, September 18, 2009

The Republican Value Voters Straw Poll and the Ted Nugent Republicans

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 9/18/09

I received lots of comments and mail about an entry here yesterday relating Ron Paul to Sarah Palin in a political atmosphere where 43% consider themselves independents. Many were from Paul supporters who didn’t like the connection. Others did. Glen, who says he has supported Paul for 20 years and Palin for one possibly got closest to the current reality: “I think Palin and Paul have a lot in common,” he wrote. “They are both libertarians, but they come to it from different approaches. Paul is an erudite scholar on both economics and foreign policy. Palin comes at it from the heart and from the gut. She is a natural libertarian who believes in limited government, free markets and individual liberty just because it’s right.”

I found it interesting that one commentator claimed that Paul and Palin did not belong together because Palin was just another RINO, a Republican in Name Only. It’s a good phrase and one I have always associated with Ted Nugent, the mad cap Michigan rocker with a conservative political bent. But Uncle Ted is totally in love with Palin. I heard him call to comment on a radio show a month or so ago when Palin was being interviewed about gun laws in Alaska. “God Bless You Sarah Palin,” was his comment.

The Republican Value Voters conference in Washington this week will hold a straw poll on the still long away 2012 Presidential election. It should be useful in cutting through the ambiguity and denial about the various grass roots movements around the country. In a poll six months ago Palin and Paul came in tied for second, behind Mitt Romney. Romney will come back as we get closer to 2012 but he should sink some this week end because of his association with health care insurance as Governor of Massachusetts.

The brooding ambiguity in the heartland has both Jeffersonian aspects (Ron Paul) and Jacksonian aspects (Sarah Palin). Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry registers in on both of these. All three might be categorized as Ted Nugent Republicans to varying degree and manifestation.

The straw poll at the Value Voters conference should give some indication about the Nuge Factor that is rattling some traditional Republicans. Nugent was the star of the show in some of the Texas “tea party” rallies on April 15. Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator from South Carolina, was sent almost to seizures when a purely conservative crowd started chanting “Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul . . .” to the tune of “USA, USA, USA . . .” during one of his speeches. Paul is not a Republican, Graham shouted back at the group.

This could actually be a creative cauldron for Republicans if they can get past the fear factor and it could be a winning new direction. They are playing with a bunch of brand new ideas; tax reform, Austrian economics, state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment, opposition to “one size fits all federalism.” If this got out of hand it could be bad, but if these ideas were properly modified, unified and organized it could indeed make – as Rick Perry phrased it not long ago – for a more perfect Union.

In the end, that might be a job for Mitt Romney. That is what he does. As President and CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics, he turned the legendary Robbie (The Band) Robertson’s free-form but delightful hippie fest into a masterwork of sports and entertainment.