It isn't even 2012 yet and most people are already fed up with the whole election process. The newest candidate in the presidential race offers nothing to deter our nation's plunge down the proverbial toilet of economic ruin. Rick Perry has all the right political and corporate connections to ensure that America will get another four years of Bush/Obama spending, bailouts, fear and rescue ploys, and government expansion. The problem, however, at least for the Republican Party, is that he most likely won't even get the chance to prove it. The fact is, Rick Perry cannot beat Obama. The same is true for nearly every other presidential hopeful in the Republican camp with the possible exception of Ron Paul and it is easy to see why.
It is rather obvious from recent debates that the Republican camp has invested nearly all of its marketing strategy and appeal in the hopeful soil of the Bible Belt. In fact one half expects an offering plate to be passed around during the next debate. However, if the last few elections have taught us anything it is that religious conservatism is no longer the deciding factor it once was in a presidential election. While Carter, Reagan and the two Bushes may have ridden in on the wave of "born again" enthusiasm, this will no longer be the golden ticket it once was. The political field has morphed incredibly since the last presidential election, and that has been due in large part to Ron Paul (and possibly a little nudge from Sarah Palin.)
Much of the discussion concerning economics and adherence to the Constitution were popularized during the 2008 elections by Dr. Paul. Although Fox News and the Koch brothers may have nearly run away with the Tea Party, practically making it the religious conservative party, Ron Paul followers continue to appear in a wide variety of settings. Paul's libertarian orientation does not resonate well with neo-conservative Republicans, but it is exactly the reason he is in a better position to defeat Obama than every one of the remaining Republican presidential hopefuls. He has appeal from a broad spectrum of supporters, especially disgruntled Democrats.
One critical factor seen in the 2008 elections was the polarizing effect of religious conservatism. After John McCain had shunned the evangelical community by denouncing John Hagee and Rod Parsley because of anti-Muslim remarks, Sarah Palin was brought in as damage control. She was quickly embraced by religious conservatives because of her folksy, conservative, down-home-America style. Immediately after the primaries, however, she was promptly shredded by the liberal media. Her adherence to fundamentalist religious beliefs and lack of political substance completely derailed the McCain campaign. Michele Bachmann's religious persuasion makes Palin's look like Unitarianism in comparison. Perry and Cain have equally thrown their eggs into the same flimsy basket.
It is not so much the fact that Perry, Cain and Bachmann are playing the "born again" card, which no longer carries its previous trump status, as it is the lack of anything else substantive. Paul also adheres to Christian principles. However, his values begin with individual sovereignty and Liberty which makes all the difference when it comes to personal lifestyles, legislation and individual freedom. Someone who has no qualms against mandating Gardasil, as did Perry, to teenage students certainly has little understanding of personal liberty regardless of his professed religious beliefs. Cain's profession that homosexuality is a sin and a personal choice may be indicative of his personal beliefs, but when it comes to such matters, Dr. Paul keeps his beliefs personal.
While Dr. Paul has been blatantly ignored by the main stream media, his popularity on the internet has avalanched. He has gained support among the military and in such unlikely places as the hip-hop community. One common thread among Ron Paul supporters is their die hard adherence to principle and all or nothing approach. This crowd will not vote the lesser of two evils. If the choice comes down between Democrat big government or Republican big government they will choose to either write in their candidate or vote their conscience which may mean a third party candidate. Either way, it will translate into less votes for the traditionally conservative party. No amount of Bible-thumping will be able to bring a status-quo, presidential candidate into the oval office.