Since last we met, a lot has changed in the GOP presidential race. For one, the very left-leaning Jon Huntsman has "suspended" his campaign, thus thinning the herd even more. Two more debates have taken place, bringing the total to 4,291 or so, I've lost count. And the coolest man alive, President Barack Obama, is suddenly taking a "small government" stance, calling for more power to help minimize the effect bloated government has.
Just a reminder: That cool fella in charge happened to be one of the foremost expanders of big-government spending and bureaucracy up until a second ago, when he realized it was no longer sexy to admit it. In an election year where so many no longer drink the hopey, changey Kool-Aid, jumping from one extreme to another is, as I see it, a desperate attempt to attract support.
But another thing happened. Three of the four candidates have now won the support of a state.
If I seemed a little underwhelmed at the idea of talking about the GOP candidates last time, it's because I was. I think I speak for a lot of concerned Americans when I say that we're tired of settling — settling for someone who sorta gets what the problems are, who we can sorta relate to or who can sorta be trusted.
After decades of self-destructive government and progressive agendas, another establishment politician will not do. I think that's why Texas Congressman Ron Paul is so exciting to young people. He is not part of the Republican establishment; on the contrary, Paul is a hardcore libertarian who speaks like a Founding Father in many instances.
He wants to secure the border, remove restrictions on drilling for oil domestically, eliminate the gasoline tax, end the federal role in education, defund more than half of the federal government (including the IRS) and turn more power over to states. But most importantly, he would disband the Federal Reserve.
Someone like a Ron Paul is desperately needed to knock Washington on its rear (back where it belongs) and take a machete to the red tape and Constitution-violating excess that currently exists. That much is true.
And while Paul is incredibly appealing in terms of freedom, liberty and slashing government, he scares the dickens out of an otherwise appreciative voter base with his stances on foreign policy and drugs. If he would change his views on those two concepts, we might see Paul in the lead by a substantial margin. But knowing his level of consistency on preaching these ideas doesn't make anyone comfortable.
Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, has been quite the soundbite pleaser at the debates, but his sketchy past and his flip-flopping positions over time makes one wonder where his loyalty lies. He has made it clear that President Obama is enemy No. 1, but Newt himself called for Obama to use troops to intervene in Libya, then when he did, condemned him and the very action.
Newt supports legalizing illegal immigrants who've planted themselves in America and lived lawfully. He supports extending and reinforcing the Patriot Act as well as the Obama administration's $4 billion Race to the Top education grant program for states.
Do you think he really wants the White House? I get the underlying feeling that this is really about him and less about the country. Regardless, I'd still love to see him in a debate against Obama.
Sen. Rick Santorum: How about them sweater vests? Only kidding. Rick has risen from obscurity on the campaign trail and made his own waves. He calls himself the only real conservative in the group. Santorum opposed the financial industry bailout under both Bush and Obama, and he has called for a zero corporate tax to help jumpstart the economic and initiative engine in this country. He also opposes any national sales tax. Open up more land for drilling, he says, reducing what he calls "oppressive regulation" restraining domestic oil production. He wants to secure America's borders and ensure that illegal immigrants never receive education benefits just for being here.
And yes, his stance on gay marriage is extremely controversial — except that every other candidate running besides Ron Paul (who wants to defer the ruling to the state level) has the exact same stance Santorum does, banning gay marriage by route of a constitutional amendment.
But his petty, whiny attitude is immensely unappealing, and he has had trouble holding his own around the others lately.
Clearly, I haven't glossed over Mitt Romney in this listing. Don't worry, he's worth a whole lot more space than I have today since he is clearly the hotness with that perfect hairdo and strapping young family. More on Romney — next column.
Columnist Wade Heath was born and raised in Lodi. Contact him at wade.lodi@gmail. com.