The Coffee Party: Three-Ring Primary

John Fuller

The circus is in town! Actually, the circus is in the state–10 states.

It’s Super Tuesday folks, and the spectacle that is the Republican Primary season has been nothing short of a Koch Bros. Circus.

Center-stage is the “Massachusetts Moderate”. Few circuses in town have something as special and complex as this one. Besides showering in money, this feature also helps people get health insurance and legalizes gay marriage. Wait, sorry. That was last week’s show. This week, the “Massachusetts Moderate” is performing a new set of tricks. This go-around, it’s all about lower taxes and cleaning out the White House.

To the left in the second ring is the “Libertarian”. No, this Libertarian won’t breathe fire on Iran, but he’ll partner with Barney Frank to let potheads around the nation light up legally. He’ll even bring the troops home and make the dollar golden once more. Many circus-goers may be surprised to see the “Libertarian” at this year’s show, since he doesn’t seem to pull as many tricks as the other candidates on stage.

This brings us round to the third, final, and most complex ring of all. “The Evangelical”. Give this ring two hours, and they’ll put you on the moon. He’s a historian, but don’t ask him about his personal history–he’ll be greatly offended. No, this feature has nine lives – and almost as many wives! Paired with this ring is a second candidate, who also appeals to the evangelical crowd. Don’t worry, though, this candidate won’t pressure you into attending one of those elitist colleges. If you want to see this candidate do a special trick, ask him about John F. Kennedy!

Can you guess the identities of the three-ringed circus?

Clearly, the three circus spectacles are the three most interesting GOP presidential candidates, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich/Rick Santorum, respectively.

In all seriousness, today is a big day for the Republican Party as they come to decide who will face Barack Obama on the national ballot in November. It’s a bit weird that the primaries have revolved around such divergent camps; the libertarian wing, the evangelical wing, and the establishment, but moderate, candidate. GOP voters seem to be split on who to support, as if they can’t decide themselves what ideology to adopt.

The 21st century Republican Party has been on a roller coaster following the end of the George W. Bush administration. Unpopularity for President Bush and the 2008 election of Barack Obama surely signaled a departure from the traditional Republican, war-hawk ideology that had held constant for the previous 20 years.

The 2010 elections reinforced this idea, as the Tea Party surged in congressional and state elections. Cable news networks announced the beginning of a new Republican Party that was crafted around Tea Party ideals.

Then 2011 happened.

Tea Party candidates began encroaching too closely to sacred Republican ground, like when Michelle Bachmann gave a separate, non GOP-official response to the 2011 State of the Union address. Likewise, Speaker of the House John Boehner couldn’t seem to get a hold of his freshman Tea Party representatives, as disagreement over the debt ceiling almost shut the nation down.

Now, here we stand at the crossroads of the Republican party. There are no Tea Party candidates left in the primary, yet libertarian-esque candidates like Ron Paul have gained serious ground by preaching the small-government message that the Tea Party symbolized.

Still, Ron Paul has been advocating the limited-government message for almost the entirety of his political career while Mitt Romney flip-flops over every issue. While Romney has come to epitomize the moderate, establishment candidate, it’s to the dismay of Newt Gingrich, who’s been a rank-and-file Republican on capital hill for far longer than Romney’s even been a conservative.

2012 will be a telling year, not simply to see if Barack Obama is a two-term president, but to see what the Republican party will embrace as their ideology from here on out. Let’s just hope there’s some decent cotton candy to go along with the show.