Super-PACs gave this voter the gift of democracy
THE DAILY BLADE: The Stiletto did something on Tuesday that she never had a chance to do before: she voted for her preferred candidate, Rick Santorum, in the NY primary. Not for the “prohibitive favorite,” the “presumptive nominee” or for the last man left standing – all three of whom are, for all intents and purposes, Mitt Romney.
OK, it was a protest vote as Santorum had suspended his campaign two weeks earlier, but still. There are those who would – and did – castigate The Stiletto for throwing her vote away (AKA voting her conscience) instead of voting for Romney. As Democrats outnumber Republicans by something like 8:1 in NYC, her vote never counts anyway. And besides, unlike other Empire State Republicans, at least she voted.
By the time the NY primary rolls around, people who gathered weeks earlier in caucuses held in towns that have smaller populations than a single NYC housing project have largely winnowed the field and rendered the outcome irrelevant. With all due respect to the heartland and the decent, patriotic people who live there, their issues are not likely to be The Stiletto's issues and their idea of a conservative is not likely to be The Stiletto's idea of a conservative. And this year there were peculiar irregularities – if not fraud – in the caucus process that cost Santorum momentum coming out of the gate in IA, which had a ripple effect on the rate and amount of donations his campaign received early on, media coverage of his campaign and the amount of time he was given by moderators of first dozen Republican debates to introduce himself to voters and state his case.
Nonetheless, during this primary election cycle The Stiletto came closer to feeling that she was participating in a democracy than in the past thanks to:
† The 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that enabled the creation of super-PACs;
† The super-PACs Red White and Blue Fund and Leaders for Families;
† The deep pockets of Harold Simmons, Foster Friess and William Dore (Santorum’s political sugar daddies, as New York magazine’s Frank Rich calls them); and
† Former RNC chairman Michael Steele, who changed the rules governing the party's presidential nomination process so that that states holding their primaries or caucuses in March would have to allocate their delegates according to a proportional formula.
In campaign seasons past, Santorum wouldn’t have made it past January. But this time, he had the wherewithal to hang in there and win enough states that pundits began seriously debating whether Santorum could win in November – which assumed he would be able to stay in the race long enough to get past Romney. Suddenly, the discussion wasn’t about Santorum’s campaign coffers but his about his campaign.
Like many other conservatives, The Stiletto would have preferred that the race between Santorum and Romney went to the convention floor to allow voters in all the states to have had a say in who our eventual nominee woud be, as well as to send a message to the Republican establishment that they can’t take conservatives or Tea Partiers for granted. A brokered convention would also have better ensured that the party platform and the campaign rhetoric the GOP nominee takes on the stump reflect our concerns.
In a recent editorial, The New York Times complains that the Citizens United ruling “allowed wealthy organizations and individuals to drown out other voices in the campaign.” Not from where The Stiletto stands. Santorum’s voice – and the voices of his supporters – were heard loud and clear despite the vagaries of the primary and caucus schedule, and the obvious advantages of Romney’s huge war chest and superior organization on the ground.
Typically, early-state voters get to choose from the full menu while The Stiletto is stuck with the leftovers. But this year she at least got to look at the menu rather than just hold out her bowl to get a steaming pile of whatever the Republican establishment plops into it.