Special Report: Silver Monthly at the Iowa Caucuses

Mitt Romney’s eight-vote victory was perhaps the least newsworthy item from last night’s Iowa Caucuses. Romney, the well-funded liberal establishment’s candidate, was supposed to win – it wasn’t supposed to be this close. Indeed, bigger news was made by the five candidates who finished directly behind him.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum came out of nowhere to finish second, losing to Romney by only eight votes. Santorum had very little organization in Iowa, not much money, and not a lot of support. How did he almost win the whole thing, then?

Well, as it became clear that former frontrunner Newt Gingrich had no real chance of winning, many of his supporters defected to Santorum. The same can be said for the supporters of Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman. In fact, entrance polls had Ron Paul winning the caucuses, but supporters of second-tier candidates defected to Santorum and Romney to help prevent a Paul victory.

We have not reviewed Mr. Santorum’s candidacy yet here at Silver Monthly. We will if he is still a contender by the time we get around to it. However, suffice it to say, he is no friend of economic or personal liberty. His own nephew has endorsed Ron Paul, saying, “My uncle Rick cannot fathom a society wherein people cooperate and work with each other freely.” Santorum is a neoconservative, and with several other neocons out of the way, he could become the favorite of that voting bloc. Beware.

Ron Paul

As stated above, CNN’s entrance polls had Ron Paul winning the Iowa Caucuses. While it’s true that exit polls are normally stunningly accurate, I would hesitate to suggest foul play in this case. That’s because the nature of caucuses allows participants to change their votes on the fly, and this is undoubtedly what people did once they realized “their candidate” was not going to win – or worse yet, that Ron Paul was!

Supporters of Gingrich, Perry, and Bachman did not defect to Ron Paul – they went to Santorum (mostly) and Romney, but this doesn’t mean that all was lost. The purpose of the caucuses and primaries is to win delegates, and they are allotted proportionally. Despite Dr. Paul’s third-place finish, he will still collect seven delegates – the same number as Romney and Santorum. Better yet, analysts predict that Paul could actually end up with more than his share.

Newt Gingrich

We profiled Newt Gingrich earlier. Of all the candidates running for the Republican nomination, he is probably the least liberty-minded – and that’s saying a lot. Earlier this month, Gingrich looked to be a front-runner, but his campaign has faltered under attacks from opponents. He would appear to be a long-shot now, which is probably for the best. Recently, the arch-drug warrior Gingrich told spectators that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – both of whom grew hemp – would be “tough on pot.”

Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman

Distant finishes put both of these candidates on the ropes: Perry is “reassessing” his candidacy; Bachman is out. Are these departures to be cheered? Well, neither Perry nor Bachman are truly liberty-minded, but in losing them, we will be losing the only candidates to even discuss the Federal Reserve other than Ron Paul. Perry has thanked Paul for teaching him about the Fed; Bachman has said she reads Ludwig von Mises on the beach. Both candidates received A ratings from Gun Owners of America, too.

The Sad State of American Politics

Finishing below Bachman was Jon Hunstman. A look at his campaign Web site reveals a rather sensible platform, easily positioning him as the most liberty-minded candidate other than Ron Paul. Why does Huntsman have such little support? I think I’ve already answered that question.

Herman Cain (profiled here by Silver Monthly) was a former Fed governor and certainly no friend of liberty, but he was a breath of fresh air, nonetheless, and not entirely establishmentarian despite his Fed credentials. The liberal media disposed of him. Now Bachman is gone and Perry is headed that way, too. Gary Johnson, now pursuing the Libertarian Party nomination, couldn’t drum up any Republican support. Discounting the hapless Huntsman, Republicans are now faced with three candidates – Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich – who are not appreciably different from one another, or from Barack Obama! Ron Paul has always been the only real choice, but now even the “lesser evils” of Cain, Perry, and Bachman are gone.

What have American politics degenerated to when we have a liberal president who signs a bill authorizing the indefinite detention of Americans, and supposedly conservative Republicans who support ObamaCare by any other name? Romney, of course, was the architect of the prototype for ObamaCare, and Gingrich supports the crucial “individual mandate.” Santorum provided the key vote for ObamaCare’s passage via his endorsement of the liberal Arlen Specter. There is one clear choice, and 79% of Iowa Republicans chose wrong. It is looking more and more like the only real choice for Americans come November will be to stay home.