So, who would you vote for in the Republican nomination contest? Fair enough, if you aren't American it might not seem important but, just for fun, how would we decide?
I am not a Republican by any means although I would have been in the days of Abraham Lincoln, but I could imagine a situation where, in the less structurally obvious ideological world of American party politics (left-wing Republicans/conservative Democrats), I could vote for a candidate in Republican attire.
So, Gingrich, Romney, Paul or Santorum?
Well, Newt Gingrich is without question the most ideologically conservative of the candidates and, given the complete hypocricy of his attempt to unseat Bill Clinton for his extra-marital dealings with Monica Lewinsky (at the time, Speaker Gingrich was conducting an affair behind the back of his wife), the most odious. Also, his anti-healthcare rhetoric and not too veiled use of 'dog whistle' slogans such as 'foodstamp president' in reference to Obama is the cheap politics of the past. Of course, it is also completely dishonest, as more people were on foodstamps under George W. Bush. On the plus side, he is admirable in being the only candidate pointing out the inhumanity of forcibly removing longstanding residents of the USA who initially arrived as illegal immigrants from (mainly) Mexico. He claims to be a reformed character (he left both of his former wives whilst they were facing major health problems) and, as a Christian, l am all in favour of forgiveness. Still, not the man I would vote for.
Ron Paul? I am opposed to the utilitarianism that lies behind his libertarian views. Whilst I admire his bravery concerning opposing some of the more restrictive legislation that has been brought in since September 11th and his (apparent) opposition to the death penalty, his intention of sweeping away large amounts of government support for the weakest in society puts me firmly against him.
Mitt Romney? Here we have the most liberal of the choices - or is he? His struggles to deny his past are painful to watch and completely dishonest. His attempt to explain away his 'pro-choice' position whilst Governor of Massachusetts are disingenuous at best. It seems he changed his views when he changed his electorate. Also, thinking it is fair to only pay 15% tax on your massive salary when others have to pay over 30% speaks to the character of the man. So, not Mitt.
Finally, we have Rick Santorum. He is an admirable enough man in terms of the care he has for his family, particularly his poorly daughter (she lives with the genetic condition Trisomy 18), but he is inconsistent in his refusal to see that poorer families need an affordable healthcare system for families with similar health challenges. He has also made the ludicrous claim that in places with government funded health systems (Canada, UK, etc), his daughter would have been left to die as she would offer nothing to the economy. This is the worst sort of scaremongering and is completely without evidence. He is 'pro-life' but in favour of the death penalty - what of the consistent thread of life?
He is different in the sense that he is not as opposed to labour unions as the other candidates but that is, shall we say, a rather nuanced 'pro'. Most Pennsylvania union people express incredulity at this but the perception pushed by other candidates might help him with the old Reagan Democrat blue collar vote in some Mid West states.
So, where does this leave me? If I had to vote for one of them it would probably be Rick Santorum, but it would be with one arm up my back and a peg on my nose. As it is, I am British so it is academic.
What would you do? No abstentions allowed.