There’s a party in the USA, and it’s in need of a leader

Seán McGandy

When Barack Obama stepped down from his plinth on Washington D.Cs National Mall on the 20th January 2009, he held the world in the palm of his hands. He had just delivered his inauguration speech to a record-breaking crowd of 1.8 million and global media. For the first time in 16 years, his party held both houses of congress and had a man in office. No one will ever know what went through his mind that moment. However, it is highly doubtful they concerned the distant yet inevitable election he would have to face in three and a half years’ time.

This time he wouldn’t be a smartly-dressed outsider, but an office worn incumbent. As 2011 approaches its end, The Democrats have lost the House of Representatives to their Republican rivals, are clinging on to a dwindling majority of seven seats in the nations Senate and at present appear in serious danger of losing the White House. Far from the heroic figure of January 2009, Obama is in serious danger of joining George Bush snr and Richard Nixon in that undesirable club of one-term presidents. But with only a few months left until the election, they are far from having chosen a candidate to compete against him. They do have a few ideas though…

Former Massachusetts governor, and failed 2008 presidential competitor, Mitt Romney is being hailed by the media as the strongest runner in the race for the Republicans. Romney brings desirable financial expertise and fiscal astuteness to a contest in which voters major concerns will be economic. From his days in the private industry, Romney boasts an impressive record of improving the fortunes of failing businesses.

Yet despite his consistent success in the polls, he appears to be amassing a sizeable army of enemies. Critics claim that his health care reforms, in the generally liberal Massachusetts, are almost identical to the principles of Obamacare, which, earlier this presidential term, united the Republican Party in disgust. He has assured his detractors that if elected, he would repeal Obama’s healthcare reforms on a national basis. His devout Mormon faith has also proved a significant roadblock on his path to appearing as a serious contender in the 2012 presidential contest.

Texan Congressman Ron Paul’s campaign has recently gained momentum among the more libertarian-minded members of his party. Despite some unconventionally republican principles, such as his staunch opposition to the Iraq war and support for the legalisation of heroin, the 75 year old has drummed support through his pledges to return to the gold standard. If he successfully assumes office, he intends to abolish both the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Service, two lynchpins of the US’s fiscal make up which encounter unrelenting criticism from vocal sections of the republican movement.

Four-term governor of Texas, Rick Perry until not so long ago appeared to be Romney’s biggest challenge. His tax plan, energy initiatives and jobs record in his native land have attracted a huge amount of praise. He boasts of having balanced the books in the union’s second biggest state and now insists he deserves a shot at the nation’s deficit. If elected, he plans to offer taxpayers the choice between tax rates under existing law or a flat 20% rate.

His diabolical performances in the televised debates haven’t gone unpunished. When asked which three government agencies he intended to eliminate when in office, he assured viewers that the Department of Energy (DoE) would be one of the first to face the chop. The DoE is a cabinet level department responsible for the nation’s policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material. The Guardian described these TV. appearances as “one of the most humiliating debate performances in recent US political history”.

Like Romney, Perry doesn’t come without some questionable religious links. He is claimed to be involved in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and in particular, the movement’s founder C. Peter Wagner. These links have recently undergone a great deal of media scrutiny.

Despite his many shortcomings, Perry continues to enjoy a great deal of support from high profile sections of the party. The BBCs North American Editor Mark Mardell claims that regardless of his religious ties, if he can manage to unite the Social Conservatives and Fiscal Hawks, two strong powerbases of the republican movement, there is every chance he can stand as a considerable challenge to Perry.

In a contest teeming with testosterone, Michelle Bachmann has assumed the female voice. Shrewdly launched early this summer in her native Iowa, her presidential campaign has attracted a great deal of media exposure, both flattering and unflattering. Her overall manifesto vague, she is unfaltering on one issue: if America is to stand any chance of overcoming its economic troubles, Obama must go.

Since Sarah Palin’s announcement that she would not stand in the republican primaries, Bachmann has received widespread support from the formidable Tea Party movement. The New Republic magazine has labelled her “a serious contender for 2012”, Newsweek magazine has depicted her as, “The Queen of Rage” and Tom Petty has assured her campaign team that he will litigate if she uses his song American Girl on her campaign trail again. She continues to divide popular opinion.

The dark horse in this year’s race has proven to be Herman Cain, the businessman, radio host and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has claimed his status as a Washington outsider and lack of experience in any political office are strengths rather than weaknesses. He asserts that he is the kind of self-man the nation needs in the days where partisanship and tribal politics are setting and grid locking the Washington agenda.

His campaign was strengthened through high profile campaigning throughout the early primary states. The centrepiece of his mammoth campaign is his 9-9-9 plan. If implemented, these measures would replace most current federal taxes with a 9% tax on business transactions, sales and personal income. He proposes to limit foreign aid though insists Israel will be exempt from such cuts. In the CNN debates he warning foreign nations that, “if you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the USA.” He has recently angered conservationist groups such as Greenpeace by citing anthropogenic global warming as “poppycock”.

In September he topped the republican presidential straw poll in Florida, October saw him win the Tea Con Midwest Straw poll with a landslide 77% of the vote, whichwas followed up with his taking of the National Federation of Republican Women’s support. At the end of October, his campaign trail was riding the crest of a wave. The campaign suffered its first wound when questions of the legality of his funding were raised. It was suggested that Mark Block’s Prosperity USA had contributed a large amount of the overall funds. As a tax exempt charity, Prosperity USA is forbidden from donating to any political movement.

Cain suffered his second sting when website Politico reported two female’s complaints of inappropriate sexual behaviour by Cain during his tenure at the National Restaurant Association. Since the announcement of these allegations, two more women have complained of sexual harassment from their former employer. Cain’s campaign team have been quick to denounce these allegations as farcical and “completely false.”

In March, Newt Gingrich made history by becoming the first ever presidential candidate to announce his running on Twitter and YouTube. Gingrich is a hugely popular member of the party and has been tipped to run in previous campaigns. Included in the contract are plans for a Balanced Budget amendment, the introduction of individual learning programmes for American students and 50-100 executive orders that would be implemented on the first day of his presidency. He has attracted the praise of many Texan republicans with his plan to erect a fence along the Mexican/US border by 2014. He has recently angered judges by announcing plans to tackle the “increasingly arrogant judiciary”.

Gingrich has attracted criticism from Christian factions of the Republican Party. His three previously failed marriages have tarnished his image with his first wife recently reporting that he started divorce proceedings when she was recovering from cancer.

Following another appalling performance in the CNN debate on national security last Tuesday night, Rick Perry was described as a spent force. US Historian Tim Stanley suggests that “whenever Perry is being asked a question he doesn’t know the answer to, he does what a meerkat does: he stands up very tall and tries to pretend he’s the tallest thing on the landscape in the hope that his predator will get the frights and run away.”

Unfortunately, for Perry, Romney and Gingrich seem to have shrugged off his possibility of being a serious challenger. At present, the two predators seem to be shaping up for a fight to the death. America is taking her seat as the two heavyweights enter the ring, and with his approval rating at an all-time low, it is doubtful anyone will be keeping a closer eye on the ensuing fight than a certain Barack Hussein Obama.

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