Mar 072012
Authors: Jesse Benn

With Super Tuesday bringing Willard “Flip-flop” Romney a small step closer to the nomination, the regressive GOP’s chances at taking over the executive branch are looking increasingly slim. So, because I’m such a fair sport, I’ve decided to throw the elephants a bone.

There are two major things the Republicans could do to increase their odds at painting 1600 Penn red this November –– neither of them likely.

First, in the case that Romney becomes the nominee, his best hope, outside of external influences like the collapse of the Euro, is to put Ron Paul on the ticket with him.

Ron Paul, love him or hate him, has much of what Willard lacks. With a long, consistently conservative and principled history, Paul is far from a flip-flopper –– Romney’s middle name. But more importantly than his voting record, Paul has genuine personality and character.

Watching one of the recent debates with my very liberal partner, who on principle agrees with almost nothing Ron Paul has to say, she looked at me and said, “I love Ron Paul.”

I knew what she meant. Hell, I love Ron Paul. Not his policies or his politics (most of them anyway), but his character, his personality. Paul is what most people and almost all politicians are not: genuine. And as misguided as his phony Gilded Age point-of-view is, it’s personality, not policy, that wins elections.

In 2000, Bush (kind of) won over the robotically boring Al Gore.

In 2004, Bush won over the utterly dull and eminently boring John Kerry.

In 2008, Obama won over the very old and boring John McCain…

You’re starting to see a pattern here.

Now there are a lot of factors that go into who wins a presidential election and why, but in a country that settles its presidential elections by consistently close margins and votes based on who we’d rather drink a beer with, personality goes a long way.

(For anyone thinking, “But Palin was on the ticket in 2008, she had personality and she didn’t help McCain,” just stop right there. I don’t care how much you don’t like Ron Paul, comparing him to Sarah Palin is messed up.)

But Paul doesn’t just bring personality to a Romney/Paul ticket –– he also brings the most energized group of supporters that 2012 will see. In a year that is likely to see a resurgence of the traditionally politically disengaged Occupy movement, energy will be particularly important.

And unlike the riled up Democratic base, energized by eight years of a George Bush administration that Obama found in 2008, the president and the left face an energy deficiency this year.

There is little doubt that many, particularly first-time voters in 2008, feel disenfranchised by the process and the lack of real change brought about by the Obama administration. This is going to hurt the turn-out among youth voters for Obama in 2012 –– one of his key demographics in 2008.

Paul is the only candidate capable of picking this vote up.

Beyond this, Paul seems to be the most likely candidate to pick up the vote of the majority of Occupiers who do end up engaging in the process. Simply consider the candidates’ visits to Colorado –– Romney, Santorum and even Obama faced Occupy protesters at or outside their events. Paul saw no such display of disapproval.

The other thing Republicans could do to increase their odds against Obama is to hope, pray and do everything possible to force a brokered convention that introduces a new player.

This is admittedly unlikely, even if Romney doesn’t secure the 1,144 delegates needed to guarantee him the nomination. But it may be the GOP’s last best hope.

If the right took this route, they would have the chance to introduce and define a candidate quickly –– leaving the left little time to build up a negative image on someone like a Jeb Bush, Michael Bloomberg or even a Joe Scarborough.

Without a brokered convention that introduces a candidate with personality, or Romney somehow harnessing the energy of Ron Paul, the Republicans stand little chance against Obama this fall. His personality is too big, his character too likeable and at the end of the day, his policies have been too moderate –– particularly when contrasted by the almost equally moderate Mitt Romney.

Jesse Benn is a senior political science major who thinks Rush Limbaugh is a slut. He column appears Thursday in Collegian. He can be reached at

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