This article is a preview of what is going to happen with Ron Paul in 2008. Broun is setting the precedence. This gives me incredible hope for what's to come!
Slapping Down "The Entire GOP Establishment"
Wed Jul 18, 11:45 AM ET
The Nation -- There is no question that Americans are frustrated with the current Congress. Polls suggest that approval ratings for the U.S. House and Senate are even more dismal than those for President Bush -- although not quite so bad as for Vice President Cheney.
But are Americans merely frustrated with the current Democratic leadership of the House and Senate, or are they disenchanted, as well, with the leaders of the Republican caucuses?
An indication of the indignation with Republican leaders came from a unique Georgia special election Tuesday, in which two Republicans ran against one another. Under Georgia law, candidates of all parties run together in primaries to fill open House seats. Then the top two finishers -- no matter what their partisan affiliation -- face each other in a runoff.
In the overwhelmingly Republican district of the late Congressman Charlie Norwood, primary voting last month produced a run-off featuring two conservative Republicans.
That's where things got interesting -- and instructive. The frontrunner in the primary voting in north Georgia's 10th district, former state Sen. Jim Whitehead, was the consensus choice of the Republican establishment. Whitehead essentially promised to be a rubberstamp for the Bush White House and Republican leaders in Congress.
His opponent, Paul Broun, was a quirky physician who claims to be "the only doctor in Georgia whose practice is almost exclusively house calls." A frequent candidate who was very much on the outs with party insiders, Broun barely squeaked into the run-off and most pundits stopped paying attention to a race it was assumed Whitehead would win with ease.
After all, Whitehead had represented much of the district in the legislature, he had a huge money advantage, and he enjoyed strong support from sitting Republican members of Congress and groups closely associated with the D.C. leadership of the party, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Broun had little going for him, except his outsider status. His campaign appealed to disenchanted Republican, Democratic and independent voters with the message: "Dr. Broun is their only hope for an independent-thinking candidate."
As Broun put it, he was "fighting the entire GOP establishment."
That proved to be an appealing message. On Tuesday, Broun came from far behind to lead Whitehead by 394 after Tuesday night's count. The win came thanks to a remarkable coalition of very conservative voters in the rural counties of north Georgia, more liberal voters in Athens -- the home of the University of Georgia -- and African Americans.
With such a close result, a recount is likely. But Broun's come-from-behind win is likely to hold, and it is already being described by Georgia media as a "stunning upset."
What message can be taken away from this result?
Given a choice between two conservative candidates, Georgia voters were asked: Do you want a candidate of the GOP establishment who promises to work with Republican leaders in Congress, or do you want an outsider who promises to go to Washington without strings attached?
As evidence of his independence, Broun emphasized a Ron Paul-like committed to "work to restore government according to the Constitution as our Founders intended." While the Georgia appears to be a more cautious constitutionalist than the maverick Texas congressman who is making a longshot bid for the party's presidential nomination in 2008, Broun borrowed one of the most popular of Paul's principles, promising that if elected he would assess any new legislation by first asking: "Is it constitutional and a proper function of government?"
No one was going to confuse Broun with a liberal, but he did display a Paul-like libertarian streak, suggesting that the federal government ought to stay away away from issues gay marriage and legalizing marijuana -- matters that the candidate suggested are best handled at the state level.
"I believe in the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which clearly says that all powers not specifically given to the federal government, or prohibited by the Constitution to the states, are reserved to the states and the people," Broun said. "I am not a person who believes that our lives should be controlled by politicians in Washington. I do not believe that the states are merely administrative units of the federal government, to do its bidding."
Whitehead responded by attacking Broun, using the standard anti-gay, anti-crime rhetoric of the party's congressional leadership.
It didn't work. And there is a lesson here for those who suggest that the dip in the popularity of Congress is merely a problem for Democrats. The disdain for Washington's way of doing things appears to be bipartisan.