There have been a lot of comparisons between the election that gave us Barack Obama and 1976. In 1976 the nation was still recovering from the Watergate scandal. Almost all of which was related to one political party. The nominee from that party, Gerald Ford, also made the unpopular decision to put the scandal behind us and grant a pardon to President Nixon. To many voters in 1976, Ford looked too much like Nixon. And the last thing people wanted was four more years of Nixon. Thus in that election, a relative unknown governor, Jimmy Carter was swept into office with a renewed hope for the future. Sound familiar?
In 2008, the second term of an increasingly unpopular president was drawing to a close. And the nation was ready for someone, anyone different from the guy who was in office. When the Republican Party chose a replacement, they chose someone who opposed him in 2000, someone who, within the party, seemed like a natural choice for a new direction. Outside the party, however, McCain looked almost like a clone of G. W. Bush. Thus, Barack Obama was elected in a landslide.
During Carter’s term, the nation faced a crisis. Militant students overran the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran. There was a slipshod attempt at a rescue. It failed miserably. in 1980, the people were done. They nominated a conservative, Ronald Reagan, in the Republican primary. He was easily elected.
So if the parallel holds, there should be a true conservative waiting in the wings for 2012. But who would it be? Could Fred Thompson put together a better run in 2012? Can Sarah Palin get back the outsider mantle that helped her win so much support? Huckabee came in second in 2008 and won a recent straw poll in Iowa, but aside from social issues he is hardly a true conservative. Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, is clearly a conservative and has proven his ability to build a coalition and overcome almost insurmountable odds. Then there is a dark horse candidate. Herman Cain is many things, including an African-American Republican, a former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, a cancer survivor — and the host of a popular radio show in Georgia. There are many voices who speak to Cain’s lack of having held office as a detriment. However, in this climate of anti incumbent sentiment, he could be the answer the GOP needs to take back the White House.