Conservative, values based America has a new face; the cut spending, working class down to earth people have a new rallying point, the tea party. Fed up with Obama-care, bank bailouts, auto bailouts, mortgage bail outs, nationwide people are looking for alternatives; equally unimpressed with the Republican Party’s lack of direction and lackluster candidates, there seems to be a public referendum of politics of any kind. Previously unknown first timers getting their feet wet in politics, across all parties, are toppling veterans in the political arena in surprising upsets. Mainstream party members with previously unpopular views are the other faction making its way to the forefront, but is that a good thing, what does it all mean for the voting choices of the public, the future of America both after the mid-term elections, heading into 2012 and beyond? Are we headed for the kind of revolution the original tea party began or are we scraping the bottom of the political deluge no matter the name of the party?
While political novice is by no means anything new and neither are unlikely segues to public office from other careers, such as former governor Jessie Ventura or, the most famous case, “The Governator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, there has to be some concern as to how much is too much, how far is too far? The media points to former pro wrestling executive Linda McMahon vying for a republican seat in Connecticut and what she can offer the state as a U.S. senate representative. Yet the bigger issue is we have a problem in America when someone can get elected for a position that is completely unknown to the voter, without ever having given a speech, done a public address or rally, with no campaign funds and with no campaign staff whatsoever; we have a larger problem when you consider that the people still voted without any of the above information. Speculation was that voters chose based on who was listed first alphabetically. So that’s how South Carolina ended up with Alvin Greene, democrat, first heard from as he stumbled through his acceptance speech, faltered on his key points of what set him apart from others and what he planned to do moving forward. We have a problem when Sarah Palin is seen as politically viable, when “Joe plumber’s” simplicity implied intelligence level is acceptable to the American people.
Looking at the tea party it’s even worse; one candidate made his dog chief of staff. Carl Paladino, running for governor of New York, says welfare recipients should be housed in unused prisons in order to teach them hygiene they did not learn in dysfunctional homes and to teach them how to earn their check rather than be given it. Christine O’Donnell, senate hopeful in Delaware, is now making headlines for comments about dabbling in witchcraft as a teen; it is not her first controversial revelation. Her other eye popping statements include a ’90’s TV spot calling masturbation selfish and a Phil Donahue quote saying that condoms do not prevent AIDS or HIV. Some Americans see it as a smear campaign of good women; others don’t see what the big deal is that O’Donnell had the right to express her opinion and Palin has managed to prove critics wrong in terms of winning the support of the people; however they are missing the larger point. These are the people winning nominations, the candidates being voted for these are the choices put forth to the American people. The sentiment being the lesser of outrageous, on the fringe thinkers is all the voters are going to get like Sharon Angle who wants to privatize Medicare, phase out social security minus a replacement, who believes the department of education is unconstitutional instead advocating local control.
Making your dog chief of staff sends the message, at the very least, you don’t take the job seriously; at most, it raises questions about mental stability and/or your fitness to perform the job you wish to be elected to. Mr. Paladino’s comments are in particular poor taste considering the recession and the number of people who suddenly find themselves on food stamps, taking food from the local food bank, people who have no issues with hygiene and no qualms about earning a living, save that their e-mail and regular mailboxes are filled with hundreds of rejection letters. Further those who do have issues with hygiene are likely homeless. People don’t need to be rounded up, institutionalized because they are on welfare; they need jobs, job training and job skill not hygiene lessons. Whether or not people like what is done in the department of education or think it should be abolished because it doesn’t function is one thing; it’s an entirely different matter to say remove it- it’s unconstitutional or to push for local control when educators, college admissions staff and employers all agree education needs fixing and national standards are a starting point must.
It’s not about whether Christine O’Donnell’s comments about masturbation are 10-15 years old and an MTV spot promoting abstinence, nor is it about the fact that her comments about condoms and HIV were in reference to how they would not help the people of Africa stop the AIDS epidemic there; it is about what she will do once she takes office, what her views say about the direction she intends to take her state in. Is Delaware about to become the next abstinence only sex education state, because she believes in being chaste above all else; will there be an attempt at laws banning masturbation the same way some states still hold statutes against even consensual sodomy, because she wants to enforce a new standard of sexual morality? Then there is the pure, unadulterated fact that condoms do protect against HIV/AIDS; of course they are not fool proof or 100% effective, but they are better than nothing and can even be of help in Africa as part of a larger program including education and medication distribution. Again we come back around to the intelligence factor and do we want people in office apparently lacking such basic intelligence about the world and the problems in it?
Everyone makes a gaff in front of a microphone, especially being new to politics, especially when in politics there is always one on and usually on you. But no matter the political party, you can’t put forth a candidate who has a minimum 10 secon “brain freeze” then the next thing anyone hears is them talking about wanting to prevent beheadings on U.S. soil caused by a combination of illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels only to turn around and not be able to say what beheadings later releasing a statement they miss spoke. Still Jan Brewer, republican governor of Arizona, is poised to be reelected despite the much contested immigration law blocked there, despite displaying the distorted, unfounded beliefs behind her fervent support of said law, seeming to only fuel misconceptions and bigotry. There is something to be said for nervousness when a camera and audience are trained on you; the question then becomes does it preclude a person from responding to something as uncomplicated as what magazines they read, exactly what happened to Sarah Palin. Regardless of how much she was bashed for inexperience, ill-preparedness, neither of those explains her comment stating she could see Russia from a window of her Alaska home, nor does it explain how she has any political career whatsoever, no matter how far out there, after saying so.
You can’t be the “taxed enough already” party endorsing a candidate smelling all too much like every other politician who for some reason can’t figure out how to pay their taxes like everyone else. You can’t project yourself as the new face of values and conservatism while the voters find out, from former comments made, you dabbled in witchcraft, teenage rebellion or no; especially when they find out on the news not from the candidate themselves, both problems plaguing Christine O’Donnell. You can’t be a party railing against the corruption of government and have someone on the voting ballet that made their dog chief of staff. None of this is what you do if you’re a new party intent on making yourself a viable political force. Likewise you can’t be any kind of contribution to a struggling established party, taking into account the current political climate among the public, when there are questions about how you ran your business how you treated your workers, coupled with the fact that you are wealthy enough to put forth your own campaign funds, all of which an absolute turn off to voters. Someone should inform the staff of Linda McMahon.
At the same time the American people need to wake up; just because they are inexperienced in politics, unfamiliar with the status quo, business as usual so many find distasteful, doesn’t mean they will be a better candidate. We don’t need potential political officers based on their being a hokey mom who likes the same things average American’s like; we don’t need them because they are willing to grasp at any desperate idea to do something about social ills like the number of people on welfare or because they pander to popularly held beliefs on hot button issues like immigration. Neither do we need them because of their strict views on sexual morality, even in a culture deemed sex obsessed; we don’t need them for their heightened sense of fiscal responsibility, promising reduction of the national debt and controlled government spending when we are still fighting 2 wars to insure extremists do not attack us again, when other regions surrounding that area of the world could destabilize creating the need for more military force, when here at home we have more people needing help just to get by. Now is the wrong time for this type of discussion; the right time being when the economy is healthy, American’s are back to work, people can provide for their families.
What we do need are people with the intelligence, acumen, insight to see the bigger political landscape, the bigger social implications landscape; we need people who understand you can be against abortion and still see the danger in overturning, trying to overture, Roe V. Wade. In other words, without wanting to return to back alley doctors, unsafe clinics endangering the health of women, who can fathom the consequences of forcing rape and incest victims to give birth to a child coming from such circumstances. We need people who comprehend that you can be pro sexual morality, responsibility without giving off the idea that, if elected, people can expect a minimum of PSA’s against masturbation and at maximum, laws attempting to outlaw something done to oneself by oneself in bathrooms and other private spaces across America. At the same time we have a responsibility as citizens to make the best effort to put people in political appointments who both know, and can articulate, that the use of condoms is a part of said sexual responsibility.
We must require that the people elected or allowed to continue to hold an office demonstrate a knowledge of the facts surrounding important issues, people unwilling to throw the most vulnerable Americans under the bus in the name of balanced budgets, less taxes and a fend for yourself later in life mentality even after seeing what happened to peoples investments and retirement funds at the height of the recession. People elected to office should be able to see the possible problems with making older Americans work longer because we privatized a system meant to protect; then due to the fact that they had low paying, get by jobs all their life they have to work right up to senility. Or perhaps Sharon Angle hasn’t run into supermarket workers struggling with the PA system, confused delivery drivers hovering on retirement age or job placement and social workers with the same problem. Give these people their social security, let them retire instead of causing them to have to work and create messes and tragedies someone has to clean up. We need to stop catering to the lowest common denominator because they “understand” us; we need to stop thinking that simplistic can get the job done. We need the best and the brightest working for us; we need “Joe plumber’s value system governing states, present in Washington not “Joe plumber’s” I.Q.