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November 20, 2011 - Ray Hall (Archive)
Republicans have got to be wondering if their road to the White House is worth the trip through Iowa. Ever since Pat Robertson made a strong showing among conservative Christians the journey through the state has been particularly hazardous for Republicans.

Although candidates like Pat Robertson and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Baptist Preacher, did well in Iowa both men quickly fizzled out before reaching the finals. What worries professional Republicans is how much the “Republican Brand” is damaged for a candidate emerging from Iowa.

With our economic system threading water and an unemployment rate near double digits and seventy percent of Americans believing that the Obama administration in on the wrong track Republican rainmakers ought to be feeling good. They are not.

Candidates that are riding high in Iowa are fringe candidates. Democrats would like nothing better than to run against Herman Cain, a man whose campaign insults thoughtful Republicans, disparages the process and makes a mockery of being the leader of the free world.

Former House Sparker Newt Gingrich, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and perennial libertarian Congressman Ron Paul have taken turns doing well in Iowa but all have an absolute zero chance of ever being president. Fact is, their radical candidacy is detrimental to Mitt Romney, the only Republican candidate that has a chance to defeat Barack Obama. Former Senator Rick Santorum and Governor Jon Huntsman haven’t made a showing in Iowa or anywhere else.

Iowa has become a natural attraction for lesser known politicians because candidates need more time than money to campaign statewide. The state does not have a winner take all primary instead it has adopted a caucus system and is the first presidential contest in the nation. That means a candidate must attract delegates from each of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties and persuade each one to show up at an appointed time and place to vote for their candidate.

That makes it easier for a candidate to carry the day with a tightly drawn minority and gives conservative Christians a greater voice in the selection of a Republican nominee than their numbers warrant. The longer Iowa lingers the greater the impact conservative Christians have on candidates who pander for extreme positions that are unpopular with many general election voters.

Iowa is the result of a fight inside the Republican Party that had it origins more than fifty years ago. The battle is between competing conservative ideologies; that rugged individualism once embodied by Ayn Rand and those of her persuasion and conservatives with a predilection for Christianity that was embraced by William Buckley and his adherents.

Ayn Rand was a preeminent capitalist, an atheist and the author of two best selling books that extolled rugged individualism in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Embracing a worldview call Objectivism that rejects the love of God and is equally disdainful of love for one’s neighbor was reinforced by Rand’s pro-choice views long before Roe-v-Wade.

Here is what Jennifer Rubin, the woman who wrote the definitive biography of Rand said about her subject: “....whereas traditional conservatism emphasized duties, responsibilities, and social interconnectedness, at the core of Rand’s ideology “was a rejection of moral obligations to others.” Thus, Rand could say that the world was “perishing from an orgy of self-sacrifice.”

Conservative interest in Ayn Rand and her writings have surfaced recently particularly among Conservatives that are considered part of the intellectual elite interested in her Objectiveness thinking. That explains why some prominent Republicans so easily embrace scrapping Social Security and Medicare. According to People for the American Way Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) claims Rand was “the reason he got involved in public service.” And Rep. Paul Campbell (R-CA) gives a copy of her books to his interns.

But here is where Iowa with its evangelical Christian base enters the fray, they don’t like Ayn Rand a woman who was pro-choice even before Roe-v-Wade. And a woman that told her husband and the wife of a younger man with whom she intended to have an affair of their intentions can be neither a Christian nor a Conservative according to the Religious Right. The renewed interest in Rand’s books and movies prompted Evangelical Christian Chuck Colson to warn that Rand is an “anti-Christian atheist. Not only should you stay away from the film,” Colson said, but “you should stay away from anybody who wants to see the film.”

This internecine warfare to determine which conservative group controls the Republican Party is the debate professional Republicans desperately want to avoid. Professionals know that Mitt Romney, the leading contender, is smack in the middle of this dispute. What is coming out of Iowa and the Republican debates does nothing to enhance the Republican image across the United States or around the world. In 2012 Republicans are more likely than not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


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