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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Local Republican Politics

This summer as the healthcare battle heated up, I decided to explore the local Republican organization. I've voted Republican and contributed to Republican candidates my entire adult life but have never participated in the party itself. (I was also exploring a congressional run this summer and was trying to understand the landscape). So, I began regularly attending county party meetings and exploring local splinter groups too. The exposure has been educational and often amusing.

The county organization is split into two factions. These factions have no discernible ideological difference; they simply hate each other. I have not yet ascertained the origins of their animosity. I am frequently caught in the crossfire and have found myself shunned by one side if I spend too much time speaking to members of the opposing group. The main goal of each monthly meeting appears to be for one faction to gain dominance over the other. Little other business is accomplished.

The local Liberty Caucus is more energetic than the county party apparatus. Unfortunately, the only meeting I have attended thus far was dominated by conspiracy theorists (apparently the government is suppressing the information that our oil reserves are actually as large as Saudi Arabia's) and recommendations for stocking up canned goods for the impending disaster. I plan to return soon to see if this meeting was an aberration.

My county is dominated by University folk, and Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 4 to 1, but I am hoping that disgust over Obamacare will lead to one of those rare elections where Republicans can capture the local Congressional seat (if only for two years). I have been very attentive to the Republican Congressional primary, especially as I had considered entering the race myself. Our two leading candidates are a nativist/racist and a Libertarian. I find the nativist's views repugnant; moreover, he triggers a visceral negative response. I listen to my viscera. (Render unto Math those things that are mathematical and unto the viscera those things that are emotional.) The Libertarian is a pleasant man and is reasonably bright, but he has done a good job of ensuring that I describe myself as a Conservative instead of a Libertarian. While Libertarians share the Conservative desire for smaller, less intrusive government, they strike me on closer inspection as being as otherworldly as the Liberals. They also have a penchant for spherical horses when analyzing foreign policy issues. I find their notions on currencies bizarre. My local candidate advocates allowing the introduction of competing currencies in the U.S. He completely ignores the gross economic inefficiencies introduced when comparisons of relative costs and returns on capital are obscured by multiple units of currency. Who wants to hedge currencies when transporting Texas gas to New York? Our Libertarian candidate also obsesses over the Federal Reserve. While I understand his objections - excessive growth of the money supply - I reveal my conservative inclinations. Rather than throw out the Fed, which has been with us through nearly a century of amazing economic growth, I would first like to remove the mandate for full employment from the list of Fed duties and see what ensues. Placing the stability of our monetary system in the hands of Russian mining interests by returning to the gold standard holds no appeal for me. In response to the Libertarian's attack on Fed generated inflation, our nativist candidate now preaches the virtue of inflation.

Forced to choose between a nativist and a Libertarian, I'll probably support the latter. There is less scope and support for Libertarian mischief in Congress than for nativist mischief. Moreover, I feel a nativist candidate would stain the entire local Republican party and retard its growth in this potentially dramatic election year.

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