Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Campaign 2012 -- Let The Games Begin! Part 2

As mentioned in Part 1 of this particular posting, last week’s Republican debate signaled that our country is about to enter another long presidential campaign season (or is that seasons?). And as a dyed-in-the-wool cynic when it comes to political observation, it would be nice to see a change of pace from the usual big money influence, series of spoken half-truths, lies, political pandering, sanctimony, and the implication that my ideology is better than yours when it comes to running the country. As I’ve always said, America should be governed based on the principles of need, not by ideology. To that effect, government has the potential as well as the resources to help in some quarters, but can be a hindrance in others. Despite this reality, the politicians we elect either adopt or reject this reality—extremely in some cases—due to their inability to think beyond the narrow ideological interpretations they hold, self-interests, the interests of whatever socioeconomic, political, or organization they belong to, and/or a combination of these reasons. Additionally, with most elected officials at the federal level seemingly betrothed to Special Interests and the dollars they flood into the coffers of these politicians, we Americans are left with the non-choice of candidates that know will inevitably work against the collective interests. So all we can do is watch debates like the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire last week and make a best guess which candidate will make a half-way decent president based on their performance and the stances they take on various issues.

Ron Paul
Polling at only 7% likely Republican voters (NBC/Wall Street Journal Pool, week of 06/11/11), Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s libertarian-tinged message has some support among elements of conservative voters as well as some independents tired of [the] more traditional choices when it comes to presidential contenders. Perhaps his overall message is best summed up as libertarian with hints of pragmatic conservatism; the “legalization of freedom.” His low polling among conservatives overall, but popularity among segments (exemplified by his win of the straw poll of likely Republican candidates at last week’s Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans) gives him a half-hearted appeal among likely voters. Admittedly, much of his message makes a great deal of sense, so its understood why of the individuals his message resonates with adopt a “I-like-this-about-him-but-not-that” attitude.

For example, on the subject of marriage—both gay and straight—he refuses to support legislation which bans or legalizes gay marriage because he believes that marriage should be sanctioned through a church. In fact, he believes that anything having to do with relationships should definitely not be dealt with on the federal level, and that states should decide what they want. Ultimately, he is of the opinion that a license for any marriage through government should not be necessary because marriage is a religious matter. However, not only does this position put him at odds with Christian Conservatives, a main constituent base for Republicans, but is not practical (at least for heterosexual couples) given that government recognizes the partnership of marriage for legalities involving consideration of financial benefits, inheritance, asset division/recognition, etc. As I stated in part 1, common sense dictates that the Founding Fathers could not have remotely considered that two adults of the same sex would want to marry one another, so in that respect, Paul is correct. There should not be any federal legislation in regards to the recognition that a marriage is between a man and a woman…it just goes without saying. He believes that government has no business in economic or social relationships.
While on the subject of homosexuality, Paul is on record as being against laws at the federal level restricting rights to individuals thus he voted to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in the military (he believes that homosexuals shouldn't be discharged if they are not causing a disruption. His “legalization of freedom” approach towards homosexuality carries over to other libertarian beliefs he holds, and he has called for the legalization of drugs and prostitution.

On abortion, he believes that aborting a child is an act of violence and should not be funded on a federal level. But unlike most political conservatives, he believes that states should decide whether or not abortion should be legal. I become nervous whenever a politician passes the buck to states to determine laws which have such far reaching social impact as abortion; handing states a disproportionate amount of power to make such laws is why the Articles of Confederation didn’t work, as such an extreme practice of federalism renders the central government impotent. This would have to be the inevitable result of Paul’s view of America, as he proposes to eliminate many federal agencies, including the Departments of Education, Energy, and Homeland Security. States, many of them already financially strapped, cannot handle so much implied delegation of traditionally federal responsibilities.
On the economy, Paul said that he would cut military spending and foreign involvement in order to trim the deficit. In addition, he believes that we could eliminate the income tax (I’m loving this) if we drastically cut spending, which would cut the influence of special interests in government.
On health care, he has stated that he would repeal the new health care law signed under President Obama, as he thinks it represents more unnecessary “big government.”
Paul, for all the sense he makes on some of the issues, would probably best be served if he were running on a third party. It would detract from his legitimacy as a serious candidate for the presidency, but it would also add to elements of his appeal, such as the perception that he is not the typical Washington insider.

Herman Cain
For all intents and purposes, Herman Cain is what I consider to be the “Anti-Obama.” He’s African-American. But he’s not as politically astute, polished, nor does he project a noticeable amount of the President’s Charisma. He’s pretty much self-made, having worked in business most of his post-Navy life (compared to Obama, who cut his chops working as an activist among Chicago’s politically disenfranchised before being elected to the U.S Senate). He also, like Palin, is adored by many within the Tea party movement as well as many within the Republican Party as a whole. To be totally honest, its hard to consider him a serious contender without the name recognition of other Republican challengers, or having held any political office (his most notable forays into organized politics was his failed 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate seat representing Georgia, and as an advisor on the 1996 presidential campaign of former Senator Bob Dole during his failed run). On some issues, he is quite the conservative, but seems to take a moderate cautious tone on others, especially on foreign affairs.

On abortion, he is steadfastly against the practice, even in cases or rape or incest (although I feel its not my place in such a situation to tell a woman what to do, abortions due to rape and/or incest account for only 1% of the total number of abortions in a given year, so using such a justification to defend the other 99% of women who undergo abortions as a form of retroactive birth control doesn’t seem to hold water. In this respect, Herman’s view may be valid). Furthermore, he believes that Planned Parenthood should not be funded, and has called it a “racist” organization since “75% of their organizations are located in black communities.”
On same-sex marriage, Cain opposes legal recognition of same-sex unions (he believes that marriage is a union between a man and woman only), and believes that homosexuality is a “sin,” as well as a choice. He is on record as opposing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
On the economy, he embraces the long-held and long-ago debunked myth of trickle down economics; cutting taxes for all businesses will stimulate growth and create jobs. He also thinks that economy stimulus involves eliminating entire programs rather than just trimming budgets.
On health care, he has been opposed to any form of “nationalized” health care since then president Bill Clinton proposed it back in the early 1990s. Like most, he holds the private market sacrosanct when it comes to resolving the dilemma of the millions of uninsured Americans who simply cannot afford protection against the prohibitively expensive health costs.
On foreign policy, Cain has been supportive the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, while opposing withdrawal timetables.
He favors a “diplomatic approach” toward Iran with regards to nuclear disarmament. But he opposes any negotiation with North Korea and opposed the New START treaty with Russia, stating that the US reserves the right to maintain freedom to develop nuclear weapons while maintaining peace through a show of strength.
Finally on energy, Cain favors offshore drilling, while allowing the consumer to choose alternative forms of energy through the private market. This is not an easy position to support, as continual drilling maintains a stagnant technological status quo where America would still be dependent on “black gold” as a primary energy source, and in which we would have to inevitably continue to have to rely on politically unstable regimes in equally unstable regions to supply us.
Cain seems to be an individualistic thinker, but seems to be too driven by his religious convictions (he is an active minister and active member of the National Baptist Convention). Caution should be had here. The last time religious fervor impacted secular government policy, we got Prohibition…and we see how well that worked…
Cain seems to need more experience in affairs of the state before he can be considered a competent contender as a representative of the people. And for goodness sake, leave the religious out of affairs of the state!

To Be Concluded...



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