Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, might have said the n-word. He might have hunted on a leased plot of land described with the same disgusting relic of slave-language. Heck, I would bet cash money that Rick Perry used that word in a joke last year about the President. I believe the language is crass and debasing; I know its use lowers my perception of the user’s IQ (regardless of the ancestry of that user). I find it only too easy to use the most powerful and important expression of my opinion, my vote, to sanction anybody I hear who thinks the word appropriate (again regardless of ancestry).
But to tell you the truth friends, I am dead tired of the race card. Chasing a given human’s ingrained perceptions of the people around them, labeling those perceptions, and then using them for public abuse is a process that has lost its charm and relevance. It is a nuclear option, dividing friend from friend and painting diverse peoples with the same course brush. It is also, in the context of American politics in general and the presidential election cycle in particular, thoroughly unnecessary. I won’t spend the next year hunting down the character flaws of various candidates, because their various policy flaws are more than enough for disqualification.
When it comes to the coyote-shooting Governor of Texas, I am far more concerned that he, at a minimum, thinks that the notion of secession is at all funny. The American Civil War, which was the real, unqualified, and direct result of secession, cost 700,000 lives. That human cost is the first and most damning problem with “joking” about secession. My biggest gripe is that a man who could “joke” about secession has no business trying to lead the nation he thinks it is funny to threaten leaving. There are many who believe that Perry wasn’t joking either. In any case, the idea that secession could be used in any sense, humorous or as some kind of logical end-product, is a fatal idea. Democracy, beyond the notion of “one person, one vote”, is truly founded on the idea of give and take. There are over 300 million folks with the same rights as you, either threatening or “joking” about taking your toys and going elsewhere when you don’t get what you want represents a virus in the body politic.
Another concern relates to Perry’s belief, shared with predecessor George W. Bush, that the United States ought to adhere to his concept of Christianity. The United States is a free democracy; if you are Baptist, then it is a Baptist nation; if you are Jewish, it is a Jewish nation; if you are Agnostic, it is an Agnostic nation. The simple notion of religious freedom stands on every American’s ability to practice, display, live, and proselytize their particular belief system without interference from a government. In our nation, we can teach our children what we ourselves believe. In our nation, we can knock on doors, at least once, and preach to others about what we believe. Rick Perry is a staunch defender of the idea that religious freedom exists to give fundamentalist Christians the rights to practice and preach; fundamentalist Christians and no others. If you believe my statement extreme, ask Mr. Perry, or Pat Robertson, or Jank Van Impe, or John Hagee if they would accept Biblical law interpreted by the Catholics or Mormons.
Finally, I question Mr. Perry’s competence as an administrator. I question his fiscal responsibility. I question his budget accountability. Rick Perry has yet to explain how he could spend so much waste gas bloviating about Texas’ fiscal responsibility, so much time laughing about the “reckless spending” that led California to budget ruin, and so little time explaining his own $27 billion budget deficit. This deficit, of course, appeared after his reelection to Governor. Texas, a state with a “booming” economy based on little or no regulation and no state income tax, has a massive deficit. Texas, a state with far lower obligations to social programs than either union-made Illinois or California, has a massive deficit. Calculators and spreadsheets Rick, they are a bitch.
In 2010, 17.5% of California workers were members of a union, 15.5% of Illinois workers fit the same profile. Texas featured just 5.5% of its workforce in unions. All those extra unions and all those extra regulations should have translated into bigger problems for those big blue states, right Rick? Education and health care are the two leading drivers of state spending. Of the two, education is easily the more budget-driven. Health care costs on state and federal budget sheets accelerate rapidly during recession and decline during periods of growth. California is spending close to 20% more per capita on public schools than Texas…and yet, there is that Texas-sized Texas deficit hanging out.
Clearly, none of the above facts means that Republican budget philosophy is in any way flawed or ill-conceived. Just because Rick Perry, like George Bush before him, ran the supply side playbook right into massive budget shortfalls doesn’t mean the playbook is wrong…right? It must therefore mean that Mr. Perry, just like Bush before him, failed as a fiscal responsibility advocate. That is after all what all those Tea Party advocates said after Obama took office…it wasn’t Republican philosophy that was the problem, it was Bush. And so it goes for Rick; once the darling of party politics, now a flailing also-ran. Politics will get you, if you don’t respect it. Rick Perry hunted at a place called n-head, and now he trails an African-American in the GOP polls. I think some would find that funny in West Texas, but I don’t need the joke. Rick Perry’s record is a bigger trump on every level than the race card.
The Rational Middle is listening…