The dividing line for 2012, in my opinion, is whether the candidates truly represent the ideals of the Tea Parties or if their overall objective is little more than regaining power for their political party. In 2012, it is not about party power - it cannot be... what it must be about is returning this country to it's constitutional roles, where The People and States are sovereign and self empowered, and the national government regulates common defense and commerce.
The road that political parties has lead us down, too, is a line of division. To be a Republican means more to be pro-life & anti-gay marriage than it does small government & fiscal responsibility. The two do not go hand in hand, and so we have isolated, say, homosexuals who also want to fight for liberty from oppressive government, high taxation, etc. Instead, the GOP acts as the oppressive entity, laying a heavy hand on Social Policy rather than leading the cause of liberty. It is one thing to believe in a certain way of life - it is another to use the power of government to force a way of life upon another... be it religious, sexual, or other... The GOP needs to embrace Social Conservatives, but not let Social Conservative morals be dictated to others.
For instance - I am a straight male, married, and growing a family. I am a firm believer that marriage is a religious event, not a social contract, and that it is up to the faith to determine how they bond two spirits. I believe that it is not the responsibility of the government to approve or license religious events. In fact the individual may be free to grant "power of attorney" to whomever one so chooses, same sex or otherwise. The states have turned the religious act of marriage into an act of drawing up a civil contract between two parties. Simply relying on my own spiritual or personal belief as a just cause to deny another individual an ability to grant legal authority to act on their behalf or jointly with them is the antithesis of liberty.
So I again suggest that the dividing line in the selection of a Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential elections is in whether or not the candidate has shown an ability to distinguish between personal values and government's role in dictating morality.
Applying the rule above, as in the case against government involvement in marriage, to future candidates in all their policies has led me to create my watch list - as detailed in my previous post. Which candidate has shown a history of liberty and a true understanding of sovereignty, and which is simply "next in line"? Which has the ability to drastically change the face of the GOP, returning it to a party of limited government, TRUE limited government? Which candidate has the necessary experience and fortitude to take on not only the radical left, but the Social Political machine driving both parties? It is this litmus that has led me to place a candidate like Luis Fortuno, Governor of Puerto Rico, as a front runner and exclude individuals like Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty.
Pawlenty and Daniels would make fine run-of-the-mill candidates, both having gone on the record in order to have a trail of saying the right thing, however, their actions lead me to believe that at best they would be Bush Light - where government would continue to grow, debt would continue to grow, and liberty would continue to shrink.
Fortuno, on the other hand, has something different. He comes from a different political climate, where the government of Puerto Rico is sovereign, the debates and issues the island territory faces are noticeably different than the rest of America. In the face of mounting government debt, Fortuno slashed $2 Billion from government spending by eliminating thousands of unnecessary government jobs. Two billion from an island territory with a GDP of $77 Billion is no small task, and is a sure sign of a strong liberty minded individual.
When looking for a 2012 candidate this far in advance, I am interested in what stands out... what is so unique that it cannot be ignored? I am also looking for effective leadership in the face of hardship... trial by fire. Run-of-the-mill candidates are a dime a dozen in this new century... I want to continue a discussion about what the dividing line is for YOU. What is it that YOU want out of a candidate... What is it that would make a Romney or Pawlenty appealing to you? Or do you know of someone else worthy of mention?
What are the non-negotiables as we turn a liberty movement into momentum for a candidate?