A recent poll showed President Obama running neck and neck with an opponent labeled “Generic Republican.” However, when he was matched up against specific Republican candidates, he led in every poll, often by a large margin.

At this point in time, we’re mired in a very bad economic downturn. Whether you believe it stems from Obama’s predecessor, or from the Republicans in Congress being uncooperative, we have very high unemployment, large deficits, two wars and a total lack of confidence in our government. It should be a slam dunk in any election taking place in times like these to knock out the incumbent. So why can’t the Republicans come up with any specific candidate that will beat a beleaguered President?

It’s because at a time when the Republicans should be circling the wagons and putting forth a candidate who will win over mainstream America, much like Ronald Reagan did, they seem hell-bent on destroying any chance they have by kowtowing to the ultra-right wing of the party.

Instead of developing an economic plan that would create jobs and spur growth (remember when Clinton beat the first President Bush with a campaign based on the premise of “It’s the economy, stupid”), they stick to the pledges of no new taxes, and in fact massive tax cuts, in spite of all the evidence that shows the Bush tax cuts played a major role in creating our deficit problems, and that even the aforementioned Reagan insisted on closing tax loopholes that today’s Republicans are willing to go to the mat to protect.

Tax cuts seem to be the prime platform the candidates are running on. They keep telling everyone over and over that they are the answer to fixing the economy. But the American people seem to be smarter than that, and have figured out that fair taxation just might mean some increases for the wealthiest among us. Tax rates are already the lowest they’ve been in decades, and we are in dire economic straits, so they realize lowering them even more isn’t the answer.

The other overriding issue that the Republicans insist is a litmus test for their candidate is the repeal of the “Obamacare” healthcare legislation. They all say that will be one of the first things they do when they get elected. The public is not overly happy with the healthcare bill, but knows that something needs to be done, since health insurance costs are spiraling out of control and playing a major role in bankrupting state governments, as well as putting it out of reach for millions of Americans. Yet none of the candidates has put forth a solution; repeal is the only policy they seem to be advocating. The public wants to hear what will be done; simply reverting to the previous system is not going to solve the problem.

The most mainstream of the Republican candidates, Mitt Romney, has the best chance of giving Obama a battle, according to the polls. But his problem seems to be that he has changed positions on some key elements of his platform. In the past he has supported abortion rights, as well as gay rights, both absolute no-nos to the right wing of the party. He also developed an Obama-like healthcare system while Governor of Massachusetts that many believe has been somewhat successful.

His flip-flop on those issues seems tailor-made to get the nomination. And that’s what makes people get turned off by politicians; changing positions to say whatever needs to be said to get elected is not the way you develop trust, and not the way to show that you have convictions and beliefs you will stand up for.

Then there’s the upstart Herman Cain. His credibility has been strained by allegations of sexual harassment. These could have been frivolous suits, however, the National Restaurant Association, which he headed, admitted to paying out settlements to two of the women, reportedly in the amount of $75,000. Cain states he knew nothing of the suits, or of the settlements. Let’s assume he is telling the truth. That means the organization he headed got hit with the lawsuits, and without even bringing it to Cain’s attention to see if they held water, paid out large sums of money to settle them, again without the knowledge or approval of the head of the organization. If that’s the case, do we really want someone running the country that didn’t even have enough control over the small organization he ran to be in the loop over that type of activity?

Newt Gingrich, who spearheaded the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, has been taking money from the federally backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage programs to the tune of millions of dollars. He was working as a “historian” for the groups, since he is not registered as a lobbyist and it would be illegal for him to have partaken in any lobbying activity on their behalf. How he was able to get that kind of position, when he has no experience in the mortgage industry just reeks of political crony bullshit—another reason people don’t trust the government anymore.

Rick Perry passed legislation as Governor of Texas calling for inoculations for girls that just so happened to be provided by a drug company that contributed to his campaign. He also condemned Obama for providing federally guaranteed loans to companies, while he was doing the same thing in Texas. Michele Bachmann has made enough misstatements for all the candidates together, let alone her own campaign.

It’s plain to see why only a “generic candidate” has a shot at beating Obama. The Republicans are taking a golden opportunity, and by limiting their candidates to narrowly defined, predetermined positions, throwing it away.

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