Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rick Perry, Texan Villain

Rick Perry has announced that he now considers nearly all forms of abortion wrong. According to the Texan governor, a woman who has been raped by her own brother should be prohibited from having an abortion. Of course, Rick Perry was never going to win the award for being liberal of the year. He has overseen too many executions and released too many anti-gay adverts for that. 

This is a man who said he had no worries about the fact he had permitted over 234 executions in Texas. One of those who was executed, Todd Willingham, is now considered by experts to have actually been innocent. For a man who apparently respects life so much that a raped teenager cannot abort an unwanted foetus, it is surprising that he has such a penchant for punishment of the capital variety.

If Perry isn’t done with curtailing women’s rights and killing people he can move onto gay bashing. In his infamous television advert ‘Strong’, Perry swaggers through woodland sporting a cheeky smile and what looks suspiciously like Heath Ledger’s outfit from Brokeback Mountain. He then intones, ‘I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian’.

It’s good to know that in a country like the United States of America Perry is not ashamed to admit he is a Christian. We must all consider how it’s a really hard thing for a governor of Texas running to be the Republican Presidential nominee to announce that he is a Christian. I wonder if, through this perpetual struggle to be recognised and respected for who he truly is, Rick Perry finds some empathy for other people who aren’t ashamed to tell others about themselves?

As he strolls through the beautiful woodland to the sounds of some ridiculous music Perry gets to the heart of his message:

‘…you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.’

The dreadful image of a Christian country crumbling at the hands of hordes of immoral gays is one which haunts so many Republican minds. For only this can explain the sheer amount of political energy spent beating back a tiny minority they have probably never met who only want the same rights as everyone else. Perry realises this and ‘Strong’ conjures this recurring nightmare. How can gays serve in the military when children can’t celebrate Christmas? President Obama has such an inversion of values. He must be an atheist or a Muslim or something!

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Republican Party

Written before Newt Gingrich's surge in the polls.

Rick Perry has again added to the long list of faux pas committed by Texas governors. Perry and Republican Party front-runner for President, Mitt Romney, both demonstrate how far to the right the Grand Old Party has moved.

In a debate on the 9th November, Perry forgot the third government agency he was planning to abolish if elected President. In describing his plan to remove three federal departments Perry said, “It’s three agencies of government, that when I get there, are gone. Commerce, Education, and the uh uh what’s the third one there?” Try as he might the name of this third, apparently worthless department, eluded him until ten minutes later he finally remembered it was the Department of Energy. The Texan’s slip up is perhaps the final straw for his campaign.

We can all be thankful that Rick Perry is one step less close to the Presidency. This is a man who said that he had no worries about the fact he had overseen over 234 executions in Texas. Considering one of the executed, Todd Willingham, is now considered by experts to have actually been innocent, Perry’s statement that he has never worried about executing an innocent man is worrying. Stunningly the reason he is unpopular with Republicans are because of his slip-ups in debates and not his penchant for capital punishment. This tells us something about the Republican Party of today.

Alongside Perry, other candidates that have slipped behind in the polls include Michelle Bachman, who described active homosexuality as ‘personal enslavement’ and Rick Santorum, who wants to teach intelligent design in schools. For a liberal who believed that Sarah Palin was beyond the pale, it seems that Bachman and Santorum are so extreme that they may be considered beyond the Palin.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is only slightly ahead in the polls and is considered on the moderate wing of the Party. Indeed this explains why it has been difficult for him to gain enough momentum to become the unchallenged front-runner. The powerful Tea Party contingent within the Republican Party has found it difficult to forgive Romney’s gubernatorial forays into moderate politics. Romney has been moderate on abortion and gay rights, and the healthcare system he introduced in Massachusetts is considered very similar to President Obama’s. In a national election Romney’s centrism would be an advantage because it would attract swing voters. However in a Republican party that has moved so far to the right these moderate policies are anathema.

Also, significantly Romney himself is not especially moderate in key areas. He has signed the Tea Party’s pledge to not raise any new taxes. Since Romney is similarly obsessed about the USA’s debt levels, this means his only option for eliminating government debt is to reduce public spending.

When Romney is meant to be the reasonable face of the Republican Party, and Governor Perry’s extreme actions are accepted, it makes one worry about the state of the Republican Party.