Anti-Establishment Dream Election: Huckabee v. Edwards v. Paul

[ Posted Thursday, December 20th, 2007 – 12:57 UTC ]

Like Christmas poinsettias popping up all over, articles are starting to appear in not only the blogosphere but also the mainstream news with a common theme: what if we've been wrong all along? What if the "inevitable" candidates don't win the nomination of the Democratic and/or Republican parties? What if they're not even the "second-place" candidates we picked? What if (gasp!) the people of Iowa and the rest of the early primary states don't give us Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, or Romney?

There are a number of factors which are contributing to this rather belated look at some of the other candidates in the race. John Edwards and Mike Huckabee's strength in Iowa are two of the main reasons for this sheepish reassessment from the punditocracy. Ron Paul's amazing online fundraising is another.

So what would happen if the presidential race next year turns out to be Edwards versus Huckabee? To stretch this scenario a little further, what if Ron Paul decides to run as a Libertarian? [I realize that this is getting into "fantasy league" politics here, but I'm doing it to make a point, so bear with me.]

Perhaps... just perhaps... the mainstream media would start actually covering the issues these candidates are campaigning on. Which would truly be extraordinary, because up until now they have spectacularly failed to do so. Which is a shame, because I would be willing to bet that a lot of people out there would be interested in hearing what these people's campaigns are all about.

Because each of them, in their own way, do not exactly fit in to the mold the media is used to using when providing the pap that laughably passes as campaign coverage. Edwards, for instance, is harking back to an earlier age in American politics, and is running what could be described as a straight Populist campaign. Or maybe "left-leaning Populist."

Huckabee is different in two regards, since he's not just campaigning for the religious right's vote, he actually comes out of the religious right. You'd think that would be just dandy with the Republican party, but it really isn't (they're used to counting on the religious vote and then paying them lip service when elected, rather than actually electing ministers to office). Huckabee is no friend of the established GOP power structure more for his other difference, though -- he actually cares more than the normal Republican candidate about average people. And he's not afraid to raise taxes when it seems like the right thing to do. So I guess you could call him a "moderate religious Republican with Populist leanings." Or something.

Then there's Ron Paul, who sails under the "Republican" flag-of-convenience, but is in reality an unabashed Libertarian. What's more, he seems to truly believe in Libertarianism instead of just giving it lip service (to gain votes in the American West) as many Republicans are wont to do. Which is why seeing him as the Libertarian Party's nominee is not really a stretch of the imagination (especially since he's been their Presidential candidate previously).

Maybe... just maybe... then we'd see a real debate on some issues that are largely ignored throughout the media during a normal campaign. Middle-class issues, for the most part. Bread and butter issues. Kitchen table issues. Call them whatever you will, but I am always astounded that campaign coverage normally gives these such short shrift. But if the nominees themselves had these issues at the core of their campaign, maybe the media would be forced to talk about them.

It's not just health care, either (the one middle class issue the media does reluctantly cover). It would be a fundamental debate about the role of government in people's lives. Should the government try to help average families? How should this happen? What could government do to make it easier to achieve the American dream? What policies could actually ease the average American family's lives?

It would be a robust debate. John Edwards would stake his claim to be a reincarnation of Teddy Roosevelt, ready to start trust-busting on Wall Street. He would argue he's the best to wrench the government out of the hands of big corporations and give little people a voice once again. Huckabee would argue that government should get out of people's lives, but at the same time not ignore the middle class in doing so. And Ron Paul, of course, would argue that the federal government shouldn't be doing an enormous part of what it does currently, and get back to the duties outlined for it in the Constitution.

Now, I know that none of these candidates is perfect (each for their own various reasons), and that there would be plenty of the usual media garbage masquerading as "reporting" on the candidates (Katie Couric for some reason springs to mind... I couldn't guess why...), but each of these three candidates has a solid claim to being "anti-establishment" in one way or another. And I think that would make the most interesting race of all next year. It wouldn't just be the fun of watching the establishment (and their corporate mouthpiece, the mainstream media) squirm while covering such anti-establishment rhetoric, it would also be the fun of watching the political elite of this country -- from both sides of the aisle -- have a collective coronary as they realize that all those people in "flyover country" actually care about things that the inside-the-Beltway crowd regularly dismisses out of hand.

The odds are long that Edwards, Huckabee, and Paul will meet as nominees next year. The odds on any one of them actually winning a party's nomination are almost as long at this point, although they're getting better. But I maintain that it would be the most interesting matchup of any of the possibilities that currently exist.

Maybe it's just my disgust at how minor candidates are treated in general. For all three of these candidates, how many stories have you read in the mainstream media about them that actually address the issues that they're running on? How many haircut stories, or weight loss stories, or other dismissive "Oh, look at the funny candidate who thinks he can be President!" articles have you read about them? Wouldn't it be nice to see that change?


[Note: This is an analysis article -- a "what if" question, and nothing more. Nothing in it should be read as an endorsement or support for any of these three candidates. Officially, I'm still neutral, and will remain so at least until the nominees are announced.]


-- Chris Weigant


5 Comments on “Anti-Establishment Dream Election: Huckabee v. Edwards v. Paul”

  1. [1] 
    CDub wrote:

    over at IndependentPrimary they claim to have received 110,000 votes where Dodd was the only Democrat to have been beaten by "None of the above". Ron Paul was the only Republican to have beaten "none of the above". And the winner ...
    Dennis Kucinich

    Not really a shock, since I heard about this vote from an e-mail campaign that's been trying to raise money for Kucinich.

    I wonder if they were diligent enough to prevent the stuffing of the ballot box???

  2. [2] 
    CDub wrote:

    I seem to have screwed up the link to Independent Primary ... so

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Can we get their servers used as election machines in Ohio?

    Heh heh.


  4. [4] 
    CDub wrote:

    I don't think you need servers, just "vote counters"???

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Sorry, I should have said "computer servers" -- the machines that counted their votes, in other words.


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