Now that former Texas Governor Rick Perry has joined the clown car by becoming the 10th officially announced candidate for the Republican nomination it is a good time to take stock. In his announcement speech Perry promised to restore greatness to the United States, without saying how. He promised the disadvantaged a better life, without saying how his policies would accomplish that, and he promised the country a future that mirrors the State of Texas, for Perry the shining city on the hill. Unfortunately he announced his candidacy at a time when ‘the Texas economic miracle’ is over and the state’s economic growth is falling well behind the national average. And to be fair, Texas wasn’t all that great to begin with. It has a poverty rate of 17.5% (and an extreme poverty rate of 7.3%), comprised of 26% child poverty, 12% senior poverty, and 18.9% women poverty. On top of this Texas has the highest rate of residents without health insurance in the nation, thanks to its refusal to expand Medicaid. It’s a city that shines only for the happy few.
Two Dutch journalists I respect considered Perry’s veteran freak show one of the better staged events among the many announcements by Republican candidates, but I was reminded of the speeches Adolf Hitler gave early in his career, promising the Germans a national resurrection but not mentioning the death on the battlefield that awaited many of them. And all GOP candidates are like that. They provide lip service to ending inequality, but only propose austerity, coupled with cutting taxes for the rich and corporations, while they are fighting unions and a living minimal wage. They want government out of our lives, but only when it comes to taxes, guns and regulating Wall Street. In other areas of life, like people’s sexual orientation and a woman’s right to choose, they fight tooth and nail to have administrations at all levels prohibit gay marriage and outlaw abortion. Their attempts to repeal Obamacare would take health care away from tens of millions of Americans, and the latest example of this attitude is Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to threaten academic freedom by taking away faculty tenure and prescribing curricula at Wisconsin’s public universities.
A peculiar theme popping up in the Republican campaigns is that Christianity is being threatened by liberals. Marco Rubio has stated that “we’re at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech because today we have reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.” The ‘logic’ here is astounding: if you don’t have the right to restrict the choices others make, you’re under attack.
Fortunately the GOP field is moving farther and farther away from where the mainstream American voters are. Therefore it is so important that Hillary Clinton has called the Republican candidates out on their attempts at voter suppression, with financial support from George Soros. Here too Texas is in the lead: a permit to carry a concealed weapon can serve as a voter ID, but a student card issued by a state college cannot.
Two of the worst GOP crazies are still coming up in June. I expect that Donald Trump will announce on June 16th that he’ll be a contestant on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ next season, but Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal could retroactively make Rick Perry look like John F. Kennedy on June 24th.