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Hucka-bridge to Nowhere June 3, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in 2012, Christian Right, National Politics, New York Politics, Obama Administration, Presidential Politics, Republicans.
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mikehuckabeeOn today’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough discussed a recent network poll about potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates.  Leading the pack was former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee at 23% with Alaska governor Sarah Palin close behind at 21%.  Former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney scored in at 13% – an earlier CNN poll showed Romney leading the field at 21%.  Lastly, former Florida governor and presidential sibling Jeb Bush received 6%.

The MSNBC poll was taken among self-identified Republicans (apparently they found some); the CNN poll was conducted on the general voting populace.  What is striking about these results is that among Republicans, the religious ultra-conservatives win.  When polling all Americans, however, a more moderate Republican – Romney – comes out on top.  As Scarborough pointed out, 44% of Republicans prefer a candidate so outside the mainstream of America that he or she can not win. 

These are bad days for Republican moderates.  Not only is the party expelling and expunging them, the the Obama administration is picking them off for cabinet posts and party-switching.  In a brilliant stroke, the administration tapped NY Republican congressman John McHugh as Secretary of the Army.  This follows the selection of Utah governor (and potential 2012 rival) John Huntsman as Ambassador to China, the defection of Arlen Spector, and the choice of former Republican congressman Ray LaHood of Illinois as Transportation Secretary.  The selection of McHugh leaves New York’s 29 Congressional districts with only two Republicans — one of whom, Christopher Lee of Amherst, is sure to see his district eliminated after the 2010 census (due to a falling population, New York will probably lose 2 congressional seats). 

Lest you think that New York doesn’t matter because we’re all a bunch of screaming liberals here, think again.  Those on the right that may sniff at New York losing Republicans should realize that as recently as 5 years ago, New York had 10 Republican congressional seats; in the early 1990’s there were as many as 17.  Outside of the cities, New York tends to be very fiscally conservative while being socially moderate.   Since the Republican party went full-on socially conservative, however, even moderate New York Republicans can not win.  Indeed, there are no Republican House members in all of New England – and only two Senators.

The Republican party is self-immolating.  By allowing their non-elected spokespersons (Cheney, Limbaugh, and the entire Fox News network) to define them and keep their base whipped up, they are alienating moderates and Independents from their camp.  Since base voters are the ones that vote in primaries and essentially pick the candidates, they are dooming themselves to becoming a Southern regional party with little national significance.

I think Americans have had it with the anti-intellectual that you’d feel comfortable having a beer with as President.  We don’t need a former Baptist minister that eats squirrels and eschews evolution as President.  We don’t need an ethically-challenged former beauty queen as president.  We don’t need people that believe in God – but believe in torture – leading us.

Truthfully, Romney is the guy that – as a Liberal – scares me.  If he can figure out a position on issues and stick with it, he would be a formidable opponent.  Americans have a near-reverence for businessmen and Romney has a successful history in business.  As Joe Scarborough pointed out this morning, had Romney been the 2008 candidate for President when the economy melted down in October, he very well could be sitting in the White House today.  That gives me the shivers – like a bad dream.   But, fortunately for Liberals and Progressives, the Republican base will never accept Romney.

I’ll continue to sleep easy.

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Socialism – The New Right-Wing Bogeyman April 11, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Economy, National Politics, Politics, Socialism.
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marxAlabama (need I say more) Republican Representative Spencer Bachus announced this week that “at least” 17 of his House colleagues are Socialists.  Of course, when he was asked to name names, Rep. Bachus would not reveal the evildoers, he just wanted to make sure we know that he has “a list”.  This follows on the heels of lunatic-fringe Minnesota Republican Michelle Bachman cautioning over national-service programs such as Americorps because they will led to indoctrination of young people in “re-education camps”. 

“It’s under the guise of — quote — volunteerism,” Bachman said.  ” But it’s not volunteers at all. It’s paying people to do work on behalf of government. … I believe that there is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concerns is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums.”   

Bachman, of course, is the Congressman who famously told Chris Matthews on “Hardball” in October that several of her congressional brethren harbor anti-American views and that the media needed to do a “penetrating expose” to ferret them out. 

What has apparently started all these right-wing heads spinning is news that a recent Rasmussen poll found that only 53% of Americans believe that capitalism is the best economic system.  About 47% said that they believed socialism was better (20%) or were unsure (27%).  The real telling statistic in this poll is age.  By large numbers, people over 40 prefer capitalism; only 13% thought that socialism was the most superior system.  Those under the age of 30, however, prefer capitalism by a slim margin of 4%; 37% favor capitalism, 33% favor socialism, and 30% are undecided.  By and large, these are the same folks that are leading the direction that this country is moving in.  This is the Facebook generation and their votes go overwhelmingly Democratic.  Numbers like this are bound to cause distress to Republicans.

Why this fact surprises anyone is beyond me.  I am a big fan of Marxist socialism and social democracy and I’m also a realist.  I doubt many of these young Americans have ever read “Das Kapital”, Karl Marx’ treatise on the pitfalls of unfettered capitalism and industrialization. In it, socialism is classically defined as state ownership of industry and the means of production.  Though there are many different iterations to the extent of what the state controls, the end result is the more equal distribution of the wealth created by industry based upon the amount of work expended in production. 

Young people are attracted to socialism because we raised them to be.  This is the “self-esteem” generation; the kids who played in little leagues where everyone got a trophy at the end of the year and participated in spelling bees where everybody was praised profusely for “trying hard”.   This is the generation that truly sees no race or ethnic differences between people and don’t really care who anybody sleeps with.  This is the generation who, as we their parents taught them, learned that effort was worth reward.  Is it really any wonder that they would seek a society where there was a more equal distribution of wealth as long as everyone participated within their abilities to create it?

Don’t get me wrong, though the non-competition of my daughter’s basketball league left me cold, I think these kids are on to something.  It is my hope that they will embrace Socialism and in turn, create a more equal world for my grandchildren to share in. 

And the Republicans will just have to get used to it.