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What is the word among Rand fans on Mitt Romney?

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For what it's worth, I thought I would post my reaction to seeing a couple of the candidates speak today at my county's Republican convention and straw poll. Romney, Giuliani, Duncan Hunter, Huckabee, and Brownback appeared in person. McCain and Ron Paul were not present, and there was no "draft Fred Thompson" presence either. My county is the largest GOP stronghold in our state, and there were probably 1,000 or convention delegates, composed primarily of religious conservatives of various stripes, but with a large streak of Rush Limbaugh influence. The party heirarchy, however, is primarily conventional GW Bush types.

The following is admittedly superficial, and I need to emphasize that none of the candidates were anywhere close to where a fan of Ayn Rand would want to see them on many issues:

Giuliani - gave a nice speech but it was entirely generic "vote for me because I was a great mayor after 9-11" and "I'm the kind of guy who can get things done." Very short on specifics or substance of any kind. Pleasant but not particularly exciting or impressive. I cast my straw vote for him based on comments I've read here, the endorsement of Steve Forbes who I've liked in the past, and the (lack of) merit of the competition.

Romney - I now have a word to answer the question posed in this topic - my word for Romney now is "robotic". I'd like to think he could improve and maybe he will, as he does have some presence about him, but his speech did not lead me to think he was going to run a particularly intellectual campaign.

Duncan Hunter - Gave a serviceable speech on national security, decently received, but unexciting. Might be one of the better candidates on some issues but for better or worse I can't see him going anywhere.

Brownback - This was the one speech I missed, but I saw him visit a precinct a couple of weeks ago and I wasn't impressed. Seems to be playing straight to the religious conservatives.

To me, the surprise of the day was Mike Huckabee, the former governor from Hope Arkansas." He gave by far the most forceful speech, which was very well received from a crowd who barely knew who he was. I had understood before the speeches that most of the "stop-Romney" conservatives were going to go for Brownback, but after Huckabee spoke that plan apparently dissolved and they all coalesced around Huckabee.

The straw poll had Romney winning with 31 some percent, but Huckabee came from nowhere to place a strong second with 26, beating Hunter (21) and far ahead of Guliani (8) and McCain (4). As was reported in our local paper, had Huckabee made any kind of pre-convention effort, he would probably have won the straw poll based on the strength of his speech.

It was all very depressing and I came away more convinced than ever of the need to focus on philosophy rather than electoral politics. I probably wouldn't have taken the time to post this but for the surprising showing by Huckabee which I thought might be of minor academic interest to those following the race.

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It was all very depressing and I came away more convinced than ever of the need to focus on philosophy rather than electoral politics.

I would like to see a single explicit Objectivist try to run for Congress. No deception about his ideas, no hiding the atheism, but a focus on proper action in countless areas. The conventional view is that this is ridiculously impossible. I don't agree. An honest man with a consistent position, able to philosophically counter any criticism, might go far. He sure wouldn't lack for publicity.

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I would like to see a single explicit Objectivist try to run for Congress. No deception about his ideas, no hiding the atheism, but a focus on proper action in countless areas. The conventional view is that this is ridiculously impossible. I don't agree. An honest man with a consistent position, able to philosophically counter any criticism, might go far. He sure wouldn't lack for publicity.

William Westmiller made a run for Congress in 1998; he tried for the Republican nomination to run against Brad Sherman (D-CA). He got 18% of the vote in the primary, and that was that. I gather he was an Objectivist; ISTR Betsy Speicher supported his campaign.

On a somewhat different tack, I've also heard that Republican party officials once approached John Allison (the Objectivist CEO of BB&T) about running for Governor of North Carolina. He turned them down because he has no interest in running for public office.

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William Westmiller made a run for Congress in 1998; he tried for the Republican nomination to run against Brad Sherman (D-CA). He got 18% of the vote in the primary, and that was that. I gather he was an Objectivist.

I wouldn't describe Bill Westmiller as an Objectivist because he is not knowledgeable about the entire philosophy, but he is in agreement with what he knows about it and particularly the political ideas, and doesn't support any anti-Objectivist ideas that I know of.

The main reason Bill lost was that he had only a grand total of $5,000 of his own money to spend on the primary (thanks to campaign finance restrictions) while his empty-suit multi-millionaire primary opponent, also self-financed, spend over $500,000. All things considered, 18% wasn't a bad showing.

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I have heard this argument many times in different forms and every time I disagree with it. Every time. Good, positive political change is possible here, now and today, even given the sorry politicians we have.

Where all of these arguments fail is that they assume that politicians have a lot more power than they do. At least in the US where we are still free to speak, politicians are the very tip of the tail of the dog, wishing they knew which way they are going to be wagged next.

You dropped the context that this is about an upcoming presidential race. Nothing you do to speak out or anything else is going to affect the small number of candidates now running or about to run, thereby establishing the only and very narrow choice the voters will have on who will be running the government. All of them already have agendas and political allies who will be in key government positions if they win; they are not a "very tip of the tail of the dog, wishing they knew which way they are going to be wagged next". The serious ones are all running very sophisticated campaigns. No one puts that kind of money into waiting to be "wagged". No presidential candidate in this election is going to endorse, let alone try to implement, what he should be doing. Your vote, or more substantial election activity if you engage in it, will only go towards determining which of a very small number of candidates determined in advance by political means will assume power.

In any race where there is no clear choice between the candidates--as it seems in most races--because they are both spouting "me too" so fast no one knows what they stand for, who gets elected is unimportant. It could be either one; you are safe voting for whomever strikes your fancy. It is only in cases where one of the candidates is clearly evil--such as anyone running for the Green Party--that you have to vote against them.

As was thoroughly discussed here before the last mid-term election, it certainly does make a difference who is elected, even by party alone. The non-committal "me-too" aspects of the campaigns are designed primarily to appeal to the 'swing voters' in the middle who normally determine the election. Such campaigning is rarely what the election is actually about. They do in fact have agendas and political baggage that is generally known in advance and whose general impact is predictable. But you have to know something about how Washington works to be able to assess that. You are not "safe voting for whomever strikes your fancy".

If you are interested in political change--such as reducing spending in order to see the tax rate come down--the way to do it is not by carefully scouring the websites of candidates for promises that are easily forgotten tomorrow,...

No one said that.

... the way to do it is to call your representatives on issues that are important to you. What you will find is that the assistants you talk to are--without exception--polite, good listeners, they take notes and they ask good questions.

They respond in action on some issues if they get enough calls. The "polite good listeners" are either someone who is already sympathetic with you, or more often, acting like they are trained to act on the telephone so as to appear sympathetic and/or not to unnecessarily annoy a potential voter, knowing that someone who takes the effort to call is someone who votes and talks to others. The same goes for the form letters they send out designed to appear sympathetic while rarely being anything but non-committal unless it is an issue they have already taken a position on -- and even then is usually designed to appease opponents by being the least offensive possible.

Calls such as yours are the lifeblood of representative, who really does not know what to support unless he knows what an important segment of his voters support. Every time you call your representative assumes that your call represents thousands of people who believe the same but have not bothered to call. I do this all the time on issues that matter to me and I get a lot of satisfaction in talking to the people who not only will pass my words on, but who are also themselves the next generation of political candidates.

Have you ever tested your satisfication by going to their office, getting to know the aides and following up on what is actually done?

You may well be having a one-on-one discussion about issues that are vital to you with the future president of the United States. It doesn't get any better than that.

It gets a lot better than such long-shot assumptions if you know something about how Washington works and how to have an impact. If an organization is already working on the issue, which you may or may not know about when you call, then numbers of calls to Congress can help. It will not, however, change the direction of the country in a fundamental way, which can only be addressed by influence on ideas in the culture, which precedes politics. Speaking out during an election while people are paying attention to certain issues can be part of that, but that process should not be confused with the actual purpose of a presidential election as decided by votes.

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