October 15, 2007

Rudy is Elephant’s Best Bet

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Earlier this week there was a Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan. Of course, we were all watching it so there is no need to revisit it (note the sarcasm). It featured the usual 30-second sound bytes with every candidate sticking to their talking points. It has become clear that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner, but the Republican Party is still trying to decide who it will back and it may not matter. Nonetheless, if the Republicans really want a chance at defeating Hillary Clinton and winning the presidency, they should support Rudy Giuliani.

Due to the primary system, each year candidates play the game of moving to the extremes to win the party nomination, and then trying to reverse that trend and move towards the center for the general elections. The argument can be made that the country is moving left politically, but the truth is, most of the nation is still moderate or even conservative. Ronald Reagan, who has now become Zeus, Jesus, and everything in between to the Republican Party, was from California, a historically liberal state. He was conservative in the sense that he supported supply-side economics and increased military spending, but it would be hard to imagine Reagan supporting a ban on gay marriage or a wall separating the U.S. and Mexico. The power of the socially conservative in the Republican Party should not be underestimated, but when it comes time for the general election, the Republicans will need a moderate candidate to compete with Hillary who is moving more towards the center every day.

Many are discounting Giuliani because they believe that his social platform is not conservative enough to get him support from primary voters. This may be true, but it is this social platform that can win him the general election. He is pro-choice and supports gun control and civil unions. All of this is in moderation of course, and is in addition to a fiscally conservative platform. Giuliani’s moderate social positions are in line with what much of the U.S. believes. Most of the undecided voters that are needed to win a general election are not on board with the staunchly conservative social positions of Republican primary voters. This makes Giuliani the most viable Republican candidate for president.

It may end up that the Bush administration and neoconservatives have alienated too many people and that the presidential election will go to the Democrats no matter what. If the Republicans want to have a shot though, they should nominate Giuliani. If Republicans nominate a more conservative Romney or Thompson, undecided voters have the easy decision of choosing Hillary simply because she is not a Republican. However, because Giuliani is socially moderate, he may be able to neutralize any advantage the Democrats have on social issues. Voters will be forced to really think about each candidate’s fiscal platform and foreign policy. This makes the decision more difficult and gives Republicans a fighting chance.