Gaining Weight And Presidential Politics
Whether you want to know why you're gaining weight or who will win the GOP presidential nomination, this column is for you.
Throughout the past couple of years there has been some fascinating research concerning weight gain. It seems if you have numerous friends who are overweight, then you are much more likely to put on unwanted pounds than if your friends are of predominantly normal weight.
Numerous theories have been proposed to explain this phenomena, including the idea that we tend to absorb the general predisposition of our closest friends. Thus, if your friends are fat, there is less pressure to be thin and being overweight subconsciously becomes normal, so it's OK if you eat that extra slice of pie.
Another possibility being explored is people who have a tendency to gain weight will seek out friends who are overweight so as to find a place to fit in and not have to deal with the pressure of being fat.
We see these same types of things play out in our core beliefs, such as religion and politics. All of us experience change in our beliefs over time, and some of this comes from absorbing bits and pieces of the ideology of those we associate with. However, we also tend to associate with those whose beliefs are similar to our own.
Take a person who typically watches MSNBC, listens to leftwing radio, and reads the Huffington Post or Mother Jones. Have that individual strike up a conversation with someone who usually watches Fox News, listens to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, and reads the Wall Street Journal. More than just the different overall political philosophy of the two, it will actually be hard for them to even communicate at all. Their frames of reference to almost everything will be diametrically different.
As the Republican presidential contest has evolved in recent weeks, I've had numerous conversations with other conservatives about who we like and whom we think will win. Many of these persons have only become actively involved in politics over the last couple of years and quite a few align themselves with the principals of Tea Party. While I have never been a part of any Tea Party organization, much of my political ideology would line up perfectly with these folks.
It's exciting to see the energy and excitement of the political newcomers. It reminds me of how I was many years ago. Maybe I've become jaded over the years since or have just finally accepted the political realities of our national politics, including the influence of money and organizations.
Many of these newbies excitedly express to me how Herman Cain or Michelle Bachman will be the next president. Sometimes I just smile and nod, while other times I try to explain how the system actually works and that the odds of either of them even becoming the GOP nominee are extremely small.
It usually doesn't matter what I say, because my comments are outside of the echo chamber these people hear every day from their fellow Tea Party leaning friends. They believe with all their heart that Cain or Bachman can win.
The same can be said for the Paulinians, that hardcore group of Ron Paul fans. It doesn't matter that other than putting up some good numbers at straw polls attended by small numbers of people, Paul has never been able to win a single state during any of his previous presidential campaigns.
Right now the media is enjoying the game, and political season is much like college football. Occasionally, an underdog will pick up an upset win and that generates news headlines. Or maybe a favorite has a bad season and fades away.
They track endorsements just like football fans follow high school recruiting. News outlets compare numbers of supporters at political events just like sports commentators contrast the size of each team's fan base that shows up for the annual Georgia/Georgia Tech game. It's great for television news and talk radio ratings.
Just as the sports guys know Vanderbilt isn't going to be the national football champ this year, news commentators and political analysts already know that Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, John Huntsman, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are not going to be the GOP nominee. They also realize that despite the current strength being shown by Michelle Bachman, the odds of her being the Republican standard-bearer rates between slim and none.
These talking heads have been around the block many times, and know picking political winners requires analysis of who the candidate's have working on their campaign teams, who their major supporters are and how much money they are raising. They also know right now which issues will be exploited down the road to derail Bachman and the others. Sometimes the attacks work and sometimes they don't, but it's rare a political attack comes out of nowhere.
My Tea Party friends like to fight back by saying we shouldn't allow the media to tell us how the election will play out, as many who don't follow politics that closely will just assume the media is correct and vote accordingly. There is proven research showing a person will often cast his ballot for his second or third favorite candidate because he doesn't believe his top pick can win and does not want to waste his vote. I don't like it, but that is the political reality.
There's a reason Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race after finishing third in the Iowa Straw Poll this past Saturday. He knew what the talking heads know. The money and the top-tier political talent it buys are going primarily to Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. There's room for only one spoiler candidate and he didn't have the charisma or Tea Party star power to overcome his lack of campaign cash. Michelle Bachman can continue her quest for a long time on a shoestring budget. Pawlenty could not.
So my advice is if you support Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachman or other long-shot candidates, then get out there and work hard for them. Make phone calls, donate money, put up signs and do whatever you can. If you lose you have at least helped swing the political discourse in your direction. Plus, every once in a while someone pulls the upset, just as Ronald Reagan did in a crowded GOP field in 1980.
The northeastern moderate wing of the GOP and their ability to raise vast sums of campaign cash was solidly in the corner of George H. W. Bush that year. When Reagan grabbed the Republican nomination, those same puppet masters let him know in no uncertain terms that if he wanted to defeat incumbent Jimmy Carter that November then he had to name Bush as his vice-presidential pick, and had to allow them to pick a large percentage of his cabinet. If he didn't, the money would dry up and they also would use their influence with the media to undermine his campaign.
These northeasterners still have a lot of clout. They gave us Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. While Romney was their guy in 2008, they could also handle McCain and used their power to sweep Mike Huckabee out of the way when Romney stumbled. This year Romney is still their guy and the Bush team is solidly in Romney's corner, with the exception of Jeb Bush who endorsed the most liberal candidate of this year's class, John Huntsman.
The Romney camp wants Michelle Bachman in the race, as she and Texas Governor Rick Perry will draw from part of the same voter base. A strong Bachman could keep Perry from passing Romney. For this reason alone it's possible Bachman will still be hanging in there come next March.
Also in coming days you will read or hear many attacks coming against Perry, especially from Texans warning us that Perry is no conservative. Most of this will be orchestrated by the Bush family, as not only do they support Romney, they despise Perry. Lots of inside politics bad blood there.
One of the first broadsides is the fact that Perry campaigned for Al Gore when Gore ran for president way back in 1988. Back then Texas was still a strong state for Democrats and, believe it or not, Al Gore was a pro-Second Amendment, pro-life conservative. Heck even Gore's then wife Tipper was a strong crusader against violent and immoral lyrics in music. It's an empty attack.
In presidential level politics all isn't as it seems. There is just too much at stake. The backup plan this year for the northeastern boys was originally Tim Pawlenty. If Romney failed to gain traction early, resources would have shifted to Pawlenty. However, Pawlenty never got out of the gate, so these guys are left with only John Huntsman in reserve and it should be obvious by now Huntsman isn't going anywhere.
So maybe this is one of those potential upset years. However, if Romney's campaign falters and the puppet masters have to choose between Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry, I can tell you it will not be Bachman unless they make a deal with the devil to give Obama a pass.
As for me, I've been craving chocolate all day. Perhaps I should find some fat friends to hang out with. Any of you Tea Party folks overweight?