It’s months before the first primary and the rhetoric coming from declared and potential GOP candidates has already kicked into overdrive.
Despite many fact malfunctions, including her claim that the Founding Fathers had worked “tirelessly” to end slavery when, in fact, they had enshrined it in the Constitution, Michele Bachmann is supposedly one of the front runners. It doesn’t seem to matter that, repeatedly, she can’t get her facts right. Bachmann remains the darling of not just the tea party but apparently the press as well, who just can’t get enough of her.
How wrong has she got it? Although her personal financial disclosures show she holds interest in a family farm that received over $250,000 in federal payments between 1995 and 2010, Bachman declared “My husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from a family farm.” And perhaps she was using new math when she said that the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration was one, when actually the number is somewhere around 269.
It’s not just on history and economics that Mrs. Bachmann appears dazed and confused. On issues of LGBT equality she is downright scary. Even if we can somehow overlook the allegations that her husband’s Christian counseling center uses faith-based therapy in an effort to convert gay men into heterosexuals, or chalk up to sibling rivalry the fact that Bachmann’s openly gay stepsister years ago protested at one of Bachmann’s anti-gay rallies, how can we ignore the words and actions of Mrs. Bachmann herself? At the New Hampshire debate and later when questioned following New York’s historic vote for gay marriage, Bachmann commented it was fine if New York did it (that’s what states can do under the 10th amendment), but she remains in favor of the federal government trumping state law by defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman through a constitutional amendment.
Another bright shining GOP star is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, another fiscal conservative, perhaps best known for his controversial suggestion that Texas may at some point secede from the union and turn down approximately $555 million in stimulus money for unemployment insurance. Where Bachmann may seem unclear on history and facts, Perry, who just officially declared, is crystal clear on where he stands on the issues.
Perry is pro-life and opposes government funding for elective abortions. In 2005, he signed a bill that limited late-term abortions and required girls under the age of 18 who get abortions to notify their parents. In 2011, Perry signed a “mandatory ultrasound bill” which stipulates that, prior to every abortion, there must be a sonogram. The woman already under societal pressure must see the sonogram images of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat before an abortion can be administered.
And where does he weigh in on LGBT rights, including marriage? Perry opposes all legal recognition of same-sex marriages. He condemned the United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down a Texas same-sex anti-sodomy law. While contemplating his presidential run, Perry proclaimed Saturday, Aug. 6, as a Day of Prayer and fasting to seek God’s guidance and wisdom in addressing the challenges that face the nation. He invited governors across the country to participate in an event that Saturday called “The Response,” a non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer meeting hosted by the American Family Association (known for its opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion). Promoters made it very clear that members of the LGBT community would not be welcome.
Lest the far-right not be fully represented, Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator and now the President of Angry Fetuses, announced in front of an empty building his candidacy for the GOP nomination.
There are some other colorful candidates like (possibly) Sarah Palin, Michigan’s Thaddeus McCotter and Newt Gingrich as well as more “conservative” contenders like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Buddy Roemer.
Sadly, on first glance, this field of contenders does not bode well for an issue-based, civil, presidential debate and campaign next year. More than anything this atmosphere of divisiveness and intolerance has gotten this country into the mess it’s in and keeps us from digging our way out of this hole.
Everyone says they are upholding the Constitution and the beliefs of our founding fathers – of course, subject to their own interpretation. Considering that the elections of 2010 were determined by 16 percent of eligible voters, we appear to be entering an era of the “Tyranny of the Minority.” An era when these far right interpretations of OUR Constitution threatens to strip many – especially women, the poor and the LGBT community – of hard won rights.
Before presidential campaigning kicks the rhetoric into overdrive, let’s put the brakes on the madness and make choices based on the common good through a clear lens, not one clouded by hatred, religious zeal and political balderdash.
We get this one shot every four years to set a new path for our country, our society and our future. We can’t just “let it ride” and expect different outcomes. Politics as usual is BROKEN. Things won’t change with merely 16 percent participation. And I’ve got a feeling we ain’t seen nothing yet.