The Relative Comment

soothing waves of relativity

Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ Category

GOP debates, MN loses; and, Presidents and Policy

with 2 comments

My beloved home state is represented by two presidential candidates at this early stage in the 2012 Campaign. In last night’s debate in Iowa, they sniped and pinched, and tried to win their way into a new role in the campaign. Bachmann as a front-runner, and Pawlenty as a still-running.

I don’t know if those goals were accomplished. That’s for Republicans to decide. What did happen was this: Minnesota came out looking nasty. And that is not acceptable. Come on.

Another thought brought up by this debate, but going far beyond just last night reminded me of a comment left by a reader on a previous post, marking an important distinction about “politicians” like Michele Bachmann. It has been ringing in my ears of late. He said:

She is not a politician, nor is she interested in politics, at least not as a proper end but rather as an expediency or as a merely intermediate end. In other words, she doesn’t want to be a politician or achieve political goals. Her legislative record in the MN Senate or the US Congress is, well, almost non-existent. Sure, she holds opinions that are related to politics and she talks about them in front of media outlets, (most of her opinions seem to be about debt and marriage), but she hasn’t made an effort to treat these issues as political ones, ie, she hasn’t taken part in efforts to author, co-author, or pass legislation. If a politician is as a politician does, then is Bachmann a politician?

This is a real issue that needs to be answered for the GOP, and the Tea Party. Most of the candidates are “politicians” and the rest are business savvy/job creators, which is okay at the end of the day. But neither group seems interested in government and politics–if you want to be President you should have an interest in policy and government and a basic awareness of how the government operates.

At least half of these candidates don’t, and most of the one’s that do (Paul, Pawlenty, Huntsman) seem destined not to be the nominee. The rest seem interested in “politics” as means to something else. This is why you can have Michele Bachmann defending her record in the legislature as purely one of obstruction rather than anything related to policy–she has no policy interests.  Liberty, unfortunately, is not policy–and light bulbs legislation is not an issue of liberty. Likewise, Francis Schaeffer is not a government role model. You can admire him all you want, but if he is a foundational building block of one’s world view, why do you want be President? Schaeffer, one’s opinion of him aside, is not interested in a government of laws, but a government of God’s law. He is not interested in civics.

Instead of questions about how to create a better government through the government, we have a national debate where Bachmann fields questions about being a submissive wife (the moderator’s fault for asking it) but it just allows Bachmann to field non-political, non-government related issues. This is not just a Bachmann problem either. Herman Cain still finds himself on stage, talking not about politics and policy, but religion. After having (maybe) learned his lesson when he announced he did not like and was afraid of Muslims, he just passed off a question about Mormons. If the conversation does turn to government, it is too often about the favorite cure of the Right–the Constitutional Amendment. Amendments apparently cure everything, even issues that are not real issues, like the debt ceiling. The Balanced Budget Amendment isn’t passing, folks, just like the past 10 years of trying to pass a national gay marriage ban has been a waste of time. Are these amendments anything but non-issues designed to draw public attention away from the fact that too many of our political leaders do not actually care about policy? Policy changes take compromise, and move the state slowly. That sentence seems totally at odds with the Republican Party of 2011.

I know this is not a GOP problem, or a new problem. Its an election cycle, and its very early at that. Eventually someone will be forced to discuss the actual reality of a thing called US government and what one will do when in the Executive Office. And it is of course important to go through the ‘getting to know you’ stage of a presidential race. But something seems to be in the air around this flock of presidential candidates–and the folks waiting in the wings, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Rudy Guilianni–I fear aren’t going to bring enough to balance out this problem.


Written by Christopher ZF

August 12, 2011 at 10:30

It might be fun to pretend, but maybe you shouldn’t run for political office

leave a comment »

Continuing to prove themselves eminently reasonable in the realm of politics, religion, and the right to hold varying beliefs about the world, the Tea Party continues to back candidates that hope to remake law in the image of their personal faith and nothing else.

This time it is Kim Simac, horse-riding instructor and Tea-Party candidate in the Wisconsin recall elections. She is running against incumbent Democrat Jim Holperin. How does she want her government run?

Simac, vice chair of the Vilas County Republican Party and a tea party activist, wants to go beyond those political goals [cutting spending and reducing government] and promises to bring her personal principles to Madison if she replaces Holperin next month.
One of those issues is restoring local control of schools so that a school district could decide whether to teach religion in public schools. “If you teach evolution, then why not creationism?” Simac asked in a recent interview. “Why not put a cross in a school? Why not talk about Easter in our schools?”

Well, for starters, these activities are illegal. And they violate the United States Constitution, no matter how much one may wish it weren’t so.

Still think she might be a reasonable individual worthy of being a leader in politics, and tired of TRC tearing down Christians who want to teach evolution in public schools? Then I recommend reading this blog-post she wrote, and TRC copped from Huffingtonpost, in which Simac compares American Public Education to the Nazi Regime, and wonders how parents can hand their children over to such “questionable people” as public school teachers.

One might argue that Simac is just some crazy horse-instructor. But she is also an 11-year veteran of electoral politics, serving on her County Board. Still, the Kim Simacs of the world might be outliers among the national Tea Party movement. But it really is getting harder to argue that case. Even the former lawyer/current congresswoman Tea-Party candidate for President of the United States doesn’t seem to care about the Constitutionality of her social values. Only spreading the faith.

Written by Christopher ZF

August 1, 2011 at 14:34

The odd circumstance of Debt Ceiling negotiations

leave a comment »

It seems to TRC that the debt ceiling talks are taking a very unusual pattern of negotiating. A normal negotiation would start with two parties staking out claims that are far apart from one another. Each side has a list of negotiating tools, and those things are slowly whittled away until a couple of the things that each side can live with remain, and a compromise is reached. This could be visualized like this:

This does not seem to reflect the debt ceiling negotiations. Here, both sides staked out their positions and made their list of priorities. Then President Obama moved directly to the middle and offered what by many accounts was a very good deal for the Republicans. This was rejected by the Republicans, and ever since things got very strange. Because negotiating ceased. What resulted was the Democrats giving up more and more of their priorities, while the Republicans moved further and further away from their original position.  This looks more like this:

So, what’s going on here? Since when can anything that looks like the bottom be considered negotiations? Turns out it is not negotiating. Because the GOP must work with the Tea Party, and the Tea Party does not want to negotiate with the President. Compromising with the Enemy is a sign of weakness. And yes, President Obama is the capital-E Enemy. Glenn Thrush at Politico gets at the problem: “There’s no guarantee Boehner can get anything through his conference, so skeptical are rank-and-file members of anything Obama could possibly approve.”

Is that where we are now? Where any kind of agreement is a sign of not good enough. If the GOP makes an offer, and Obama takes that offer, well then, it must not have been asking for enough cuts, enough sacred cows, enough hardship for the President. Whatever he will agree to, the Tea Party must have more.

Written by Christopher ZF

July 25, 2011 at 14:43