Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Republicans, just help me understand...

 "I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending." 
 What is it about the Republican presidential candidates this election season?  I'm used to nut jobs like Pat Robertson blaming natural disasters on "God's wrath", but I expect a certain level of rationality and, I don't know... intelligence maybe, from politicians running for president.  Even though Bachmann's people are backtracking like crazy on this statement and saying it was "in jest" - because what could be funnier than making jokes about an earthquake and a hurricane that was responsible for at least 3 dozen deaths, am I right? - it's not as if this is the first extremist religious statement Bachmann has made on the campaign trail.

“My husband said, ‘Now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law,’” Bachmann said. “Tax law! I hate taxes. Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord says, ‘Be submissive, wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.’”

This was another statement Bachmann later tried to clarify with a rather silly "explanation".  This time, it was during the Fox News Republican primary debate.  When asked a rather pointed and sensible question about her beliefs in being "submissive" to her husband and would she continue to be "submissive" to him as president, Bachmann explained that "submission" actually means respect.  

“What submission means to us, it means respect. I respect my husband. He’s a wonderful godly man and great father.”
There's an awful lot of difference between "respecting" your husband and pursuing a post-doctorate degree and career that you hate simply because he told you to do it.  I can tell my wife to do a lot of things, but if she doesn't want to do it, it's not going to be done, and you know what, that's fine.  I don't own my wife, I don't control my wife, she's not submissive to me, she's my partner, my equal and my friend.  I wouldn't ask her to do anything I thought she didn't want to do and she wouldn't ask it of me, either.  That's respect.  Respect is saying "If you don't want to do that, I won't force you to."  That's the exact opposite of what Bachmann did for her husband.  That weak attempt at a backpedal might work on the Christian base Bachmann is pandering to, but it doesn't hold water with rational-thinking people.

See, I expect to hear nutty, "prophetic" rhetoric from Pat Robertson.  He's a televangelist, he's a religious extremist, he's bat-shit crazy.  I don't expect to hear it from people who are trying to win the most powerful position in the country and become the leader of the free world.  

However, I'm hearing this kind of crazy talk from more than one Republican presidential hopeful.

“ I think in America from time to time we have to go through some difficult times — and I think we’re going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don’t spend all the money. You work hard for those six years and you put up that seventh year in the warehouse to take you through the hard times. And not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it’s slavery. We become slaves to government.”

Rick Perry is another one of these guys who is deeply entrenched in religious ideology and makes wild and arrogant comments about world events through his narrow-cast Christian viewpoint.  Another one who blames our tough economic times as a country on some great sin that the masses are perpetrating against God.  First of all, this is the worst kind of irresponsible speech - pandering to the basic fear of God in people by claiming that we are all being punished by God for some imagined transgression and only by electing Rick Perry president can we begin to make amends.  Secondly, it's just a stupid thing to say.  God doesn't control the stock market, God doesn't control corporations and employment rates, God doesn't control the economy.  So now, not only can Perry blame everything that's wrong with our country on Obama, he can use God himself as his proof!  "Because the American people are allowing Obama to mess up our country, God is punishing us!"  It's insanity.  But, apparently, it's resonating with the conservative base.  Rick Perry called the BP oil spill "An act of God."  God didn't build that offshore oil rig, you idiot!  He's also another one, like Bachmann, who says that they only decided to run for president because "God told me to".  Apparently, God is a trickster, because he told both Perry and Bachmann to run for president.

When a guy like Jon Huntsman is marginalized for making the radical statement:

"To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."
What has the Republican party come to?  I mean, honestly?  This is a statement that wouldn't even make a blip on the radar if it was made by a Democratic candidate, but because a Republican said it, it's a radical statement of defiance against the party platform.  I mean, you would think the guy just came out and said he was pro-choice and believed in gay marriage and that raising taxes on the rich would be a good thing!  But no, he didn't say anything wild and controversial like that, he simply affirmed his belief in the massive amount of research and data that has been collected, parsed and presented on the subjects of both evolution and global warming by the scientific community over generations of civilized society.

And that's crazy?

I just don't understand why, when all the average conservative voters I know constantly tell me that it's all about "jobs, the economy and taxes", why is it that Bachmann and Perry are still getting the lion's share of the attention and popular support?  Not only that, but Mitt Romney is still in it too.  Why are the Republicans saying one thing and doing another, both the politicians and the voters?

The Republicans in Washington say that they're against "anything that remotely resembles a tax increase", yet they're pushing to repeal Obama's payroll tax holiday - a move that will raise taxes directly on the middle class, by increasing taxes only for people making less than $250,000 a year by anywhere from around $50 to $200+ per month.  Not only is that exactly a tax increase, it's a tax increase aimed specifically at the middle-class!  Yet, these guys are still the anti-tax heroes of the very middle-class conservatives who are going to be negatively impacted by this tax hike.  Help me understand this...

Likewise, the conservative voters say that their agenda is "creating jobs, fixing the economy and lowering taxes", yet the front runners are evangelical social conservatives who either don't know the first thing about economics and job creation (Bachmann), or only know how to create shitty minimum wage jobs and take bailout money to balance the state budget and then pretend they did it on their own (Perry).

Also, they're both wishy-washy, flip-flopping bitches.  Bachmann let her husband tell her what to do with her education and career and then, apparently, let "God" tell her what to do with her political ambitions.  Perry let GW Bush and Karl Rove talk him into switching from Democrat to a Republican and then also let "God" tell him where to take his political aspirations.  They've both made dozens of statements that they later had to back-track on and try to spin their way out of, only to look even more foolish in the process, and yet their numbers continue to rise.

Perry called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme", even though it's completely self-sustaining and would remain so in perpetuity if only our politicians would keep their hands out of the damn cookie jar and stop "re-allocating" the funds to their pork-filled pet projects.  He talked about Texas seceding from the union.  He called Fed chairman Ben Bernanke "treasonous" and made a thinly-veiled threat about what "we would do to a guy like that down in Texas".  Oh, but all that secession and unconstitutional Ponzi scheme talk, that was all back in his book!  Those views aren't the views he has now!  Oh, but the book was published 9 months ago and written less than a year before Perry began testing the waters for a presidential run.  Is that the kind of flip-flopping "leadership" the Republican party wants?  A guy who will completely change his entire platform and ideology from one year to the next?  I mean, this is a minimum 4-year gig, so we can expect 4 different, completely revised political ideologies from Rick Perry as president?  That's ok with you, Republicans?

Now look, I'm not exactly pleased with the job Obama is doing right now.  I'm not a mindless sycophant who blows sunshine and smoke up the president's ass and deludes myself into thinking that everything Obama and the Democrats do is wonderful.  In fact, I'm fairly disgusted with both Obama and the Democrats in congress right now.  I think they've been incredibly weak on policy, they've backed down over and over to the sheer ridiculousness coming from the Tea Party fringe that's hijacked the GOP, they've squandered just about every last ounce of goodwill that they had following the last presidential election, even to the point that finally killing Bin Laden had only a slight and short-lived impact on Obama's approval ratings and they consistently fail to capitalize on the fact that, right now, in this economy, they are holding the position that's actually most popular with moderate, independent and undecided voters.  It pains me to still support Obama as if I'm genuinely happy with his performance over the last 3 years, because I'm not.  However, what are my alternatives?

That's why I don't understand the hypocrisy of ideology coming from the conservative right.

It's already been statistically proven that the majority of Tea Party Republicans have swung from their supposed "fiscally conservative independent" identification back in the early inception of the party to now being a movement with strong, socially conservative, evangelical dominionist views over government.  What that means, basically, is that while the Tea Party might have started out claiming to be a movement-turned-party that was focused almost entirely on the tenets of fiscal conservatism - keeping taxes low, cutting spending, reducing the size of government, etc. - they have, over the course of just a couple short years, swung wildly to the far-right and become a movement of socially conservative, religious ideologues who want Christian theology to play a bigger role in government and policy making.  Fiscal conservatism has fallen by the wayside in favor of installing a Christian version of Sharia law to the majority of the most fervent Tea Partiers, but yet they still pretend that it's about taxes and spending.  Like I said, if that's the case, then why aren't Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman killing the competition in the polls?  Why are Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney leading?

I understand that part of winning the nomination of either party is pandering to the base.  I get that the reason for all this far-right, extremist rhetoric is because that's what the hardcore Republicans apparently want to hear.

What I don't understand is two things, however.

One, how can you be a struggling, middle-class Republican right now and care more about who "God" picked as his favorite candidate than you do about whether or not you will have a job next year, or how are you going to pay all the bills as prices keep going up while your wages stay stagnant?  How can you support a candidate who says that the mild earthquake and category 1 hurricane on the east coast were signs from God about our lack of spending cuts in Washington?  How can you support a candidate who says that the BP oil spill was an "Act of God"?  How can you support candidates who invoke God as a band aid to cover their own ignorance?  How can you support candidates who either don't even know the fundamentals of economics and business, or who only know how to create conditions that exploit the middle-class for the benefit of the ultra-rich and mega-corporations?  How can you support these candidates over guys who actually have some semblance of knowledge about economics and fiscal policy, who have actually shown some common sense and demonstrated a reasonable grasp of how to seriously address the recession we're in and it's far-reaching impact on working Americans?  I'm talking about guys like Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman.  While I may not agree with them, at least they're actually talking about fixing what's really wrong with this country, rather than spewing a bunch of religious nonsense when they're not busy backpedaling from some gaff or comment from their not-so-distant past that's haunting them.  I mean, Rick Perry's solution to the drought in Texas was to pray for rain, that hasn't exactly worked out so well.  Is that the kind of leadership the majority of Republican voters want?  Would you rather have a guy who's going to "pray" that the economy gets better, or one who's got a plan to actually try and make the economy better?  Because the guys with plans are sucking hind tit in the primaries, but the guys with a bag full of prayers and empty promises are leading the pack.

The other thing I don't understand about this trend towards extremist rhetoric among the Republican front runners is, how do these candidates expect to move towards the middle from these extreme positions and statements to give themselves mass-appeal to the undecideds, the swing voters and the moderates?  How do you go from blaming natural disasters on God's wrath, from blaming our failing economy on God's wrath, from demonstrating a fundamental lack of basic business and economic knowledge and failing to produce any real plan to address the problems facing our country right now with any degree of effectiveness over the sitting president, to somehow reaching across the aisle and bridging the ideological gap between your hardcore, far-right extremism and the moderate, centrist views of the average voter?  How do you run a primary campaign on a barely-veiled dominionist, theocratic agenda, with almost no mention at all of any real economic plan of action and then expect to somehow win over the hearts and minds of moderate voters who are out of work, underemployed, struggling to make ends meet and so on?  These people honestly could give a shit about what "God's" plan for you is, they want to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  How do you convince them that you're a better choice than Obama when you don't even have as much of a plan of action as he does to address our current fiscal quagmire, and so far he's only got a mediocre plan at best?

When did it stop being about "jobs, taxes and the economy" and start being about "God, Jesus and upper-class tax breaks"?  Or, should I say, at what point did the average "Tea Party" Republicans stop becoming the self-proclaimed voices of rationality and fiscal responsibility and allow themselves to become the far-right, extremist "brown shirt" wing of the "business as usual" Grand Ol' Party?

Help me understand that, Republicans.  Help me understand how social conservatism is going to create jobs, rebuild the economy and grow businesses in America again?

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