As the race for the Republican nomination heats up, I see the field narrowing very quickly. Let’s start with who’s in and who’s not. Haley Barbour said he isn’t running. Rep. Mike Pence, whose named was tossed about, would rather be governor of Indiana. Personally, I think Pence is making the strategic calculation that Obama’s going to win and the election in 2016 will be much easier with some executive experience under his belt. From what I’ve heard and read, I don’t think Sarah Palin will really get in race. I don’t think Mike Huckabee will either. Donald Trump is obviously making waves, but even if he gets in the race he won’t last long. He’s just playing on the right’s dislike of the President. He hasn’t put forth any real ideas. Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman seems to be in the field, but I don’t see him winning. The “he worked for Obama” argument will kill his campaign. Rick Santorum isn’t an unlikely choice, but his appeal to social conservatives isn’t going to separate him from the pack. I think Santorum could prove to be a valuable running mate for some of the other candidates. While any of these folks might get in the race I don’t think they really have a chance.
This brings me to the four that I think are most interesting Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain. I don’t think Bachmann has a real shot at the nomination, but if she runs she could influence who does. She’s very popular with the Tea Party. Appealing to the Tea Party is going to be important to get both votes and money. I think you’re likely to see the support of American’s For Prosperity and similar groups going toward the most Tea Partyish candidates. This is why gaining her endorsement (and Sarah Palin’s) could be important. It might also make her a choice as a running mate, but she comes with baggage. Her Sarah Palinesque style and “slightly off-camera” speech delivery along with the fact that she was a Democrat who volunteered for Jimmy Carter, might make her not worth it.
Mitt Romney is often called the front-runner these days. Romney is charismatic and presidential looking. He’s a decent public speaker. He does have issues though. He is the former governor of not only a blue state, but perhaps the bluest of them all. Massachusetts has only fallen to Republicans four times since 1928. “Romneycare” will be a stumbling block. I believe 2012 will feel a lot like 2008 for Mitt Romney.
Tim Pawlenty is the quintessential Republican candidate. He’s a former Governor which is important. Only three sitting senators (Warren Harding, John Kennedy, and Barack Obama) have been elected president. James Garfield is the only member of the House to be elected president. The others were primarily governors. Americans seem to like the idea that governing a state is much like governing the country. He’s a devout Christian, has a record of fiscal conservatism, and is one of the few Republicans that will appear on the Daily Show. The fact that he will go into an environment that obviously disagrees with him will help him gain some independents. If Republicans want to defeat President Obama, Pawlenty is their best chance. However, there is one candidate that brings something different to the table.
Herman Cain is an unusual candidate, and I think he may actually put up a fight. He has no political experience. That could work to his advantage as he faces an electorate largely disillusioned with politics. He is a successful businessman, and many people feel that an experienced CEO would make an experienced Executive. On top of that he’s an African-American who has a better chance of connecting to that community. The President enjoyed what would appear to many as an exotic childhood. He was raised in Hawaii and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. Herman Cain, however, is a black, Christian man from Georgia. He attended Morehouse College, and was the first person in his family to earn a degree. Herman Cain has more in common with many black people than the President. He provides the Republican party with an opportunity to show that they are diverse and represent the interests of all Americans. That paired with the fact that drawing the votes of disillusioned, working class African-Americans who are begging for a reason to believe in the American Dream could spell doom for Democrats.
It is very early to be speculating about the next election. Polls from this far out are almost always wrong, but Republicans are at a crossroads. They can choose to remain the establishment that they have been, or follow a new more conservative path. The best part of this choice is that it will lie with the people who support the party. Establishment Republicans could not be happier if the status quo is maintained. Their constituents may have a different opinion. Interestingly, I hope the status quo is maintained. If I have to choose between the Republican I know, and one who may be far more conservative, my choice is clear.
Posted in Politics
Tagged 2012 election, American's For Prosperity, Democrats, Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Jimmy Carter, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachman, Mike Pence, Mitt Romney, postaday2011, Republicans, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, Tea Party, The Daily Show, Tim Pawlenty
So the House decided to repeal the healthcare law. Great use of the people’s time and money, but it happened so let’s talk about it for a minute. My humorous side is real unhappy about this. Mostly because they called it “The Repealing the Job-Killing Healthcare Law Act.” That’s just a ridiculous name. First of all, it’s a little early to call it “Job-Killing.” Second, the Law Act part seems redundant. Third, what do Republican’s hope to possibly gain from this stunt.
As soon as John Boehner said this was going to happen, Democrats got real excited. The get a second chance to record all the sound bites about wildly popular parts of the bill. Democrats came down with healthcare Tourette’s. Everybody was talking about “no more preexisting conditions, no more dropped coverage.” They even brought out people who are excited because they can keep their kids covered to age 26.
All Republicans did was say it was a government takeover. Obamacare is socialism. Americans like a lot of this bill though. The only thing people really seem to have a problem with in the bill is the mandate to buy insurance. Republicans are challenging that across the U.S. The real problem is that they aren’t opposed to individual mandates. They came up with them. It had broad support from Republicans in the 1993 healthcare law that President Clinton failed to pass, and in the Wyden-Bennet bill in 2008. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post argues, the problem is purely partisan.
I think that’s where Republicans lose. Sure, they will fire up the base. Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachman will go on a rampage. Sean Hannity’s head might just explode. The real issue is that House Republicans are saying we have to repeal everything. So they want insurance companies to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. They want insurance companies to discriminate against those who already have medical conditions. If Republicans were saying they wanted to repeal the mandate, it would still be hypocritical, but it wouldn’t be such blatant politics. They want the grand showmanship of total repeal, because they don’t care about healthcare. They care about winning, and they think this is the easiest way to do that. They are banking on the idea that Americans won’t do their homework. Rank and file Republicans and Democrats won’t. They will vote with their party because they always do. Those of us who choose to be independent of the parties must do ours. It’s important that people realize that these issues are much more complex than either side wants you to think about.
The individual mandate may seem wrong, but insurance is a tricky business. If they are going to cover everyone who walks through the door, someone has to pay. It takes the monthly premiums of a whole bunch of people to pay the monthly cost of cancer treatment for one person. If we want insurance coverage when we need it. We have to be willing to pay for it when we don’t. In other countries it is considered a civic duty to be insured. If Americans felt that way we would all be better off.
As Americans we tend to cling to our freedoms in the most peculiar way. Opponents of the mandate have said it suppresses their freedom. They should be able to choose to be uninsured. For virtually everyone that’s just crazy. No one who has any common sense would choose to be uninsured unless they were filthy rich. I must admit that I was uninsured for a long period of time once in my life. I was in my early twenties, and I will readily admit that I had no common sense. As a nation we have to act with some common sense. If we believe that people should be able to afford health insurance then it will take the work of the government and the insurance industry. The American people must also be willing to pitch in.
The biggest hurdle is thwarting the business lobby. The law requires companies to provide insurance or face penalties. Business doesn’t like that. You would have to be crazy to think that this week’s repeal measure doesn’t have something to do with Republicans shoring up support among Big business. There is a ton of cash in business and they want it when the next election rolls around. With all the money corporations put into our campaigns, it’s fairly amazing that any elected official was willing to vote for the healthcare bill. This is why the right has taken to opposing Obama so passionately. I’m not even sure how many people who yell about fiscal responsibility realize that Obama’s first budget brought the budget deficit down for the first time in nearly a decade. The healthcare bill is projected to reduce the deficit by another one hundred billion and change over the next ten years. The right-wing business community doesn’t want people to realize. So they have funded Tea Party rallies across the nation pointing the finger at Obama, and stirring the fear. People say the Tea Party is about fiscal responsibility, and the rank and file may be. The people running the show don’t give a damn about fiscal responsibility. They are playing on the fear of white America. They are people from Citizens for a Sound Economy, and Americans for Prosperity. Both groups with ultra right-wing agendas formed by billionaires to protect their own money. If a business friendly president gets elected the Tea Party will disappear, because those who organize them will have gotten their way. That’s why the Tea Party didn’t exist for the 8 years of record-setting deficits under Pres. Bush. That’s why they fought the stimulus but not TARP. The people may feel that they are pushing for fiscal responsibility but the ones with power are using them for their own agenda. We should be scared. They know how to win elections. Pick an issue, this time healthcare, make people afraid of it, and tell them whose to blame for it. That way the healthcare law will be repealed and they aren’t on the hook to give health insurance to their employees.
I know there are people out there who genuinely have paid attention to the issues and oppose healthcare reform. I know there are those at Tea Party rallies who are seriously concerned with the national debt. Those could be valid viewpoints, but it is a stretch to believe that the repeal this week was a genuine attempt to do what’s right. Total repeal doesn’t make sense. There are good parts to the bill. We need to keep those and tweak other things to make them better. As an example, every President takes up education reform. Since Johnson passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 60’s it has been regularly modified and reauthorized. In 2001 it was passed as No Child Left Behind. A lot of people didn’t like a large part of NCLB, but no one is talking about repealing it. It wasn’t all bad and a total repeal would be of great detriment to our nations schools. We will once again try to fix the problems and enhance the strengths of the bill with the ultimate goal of providing the best possible education to our children. We need to approach healthcare reform in the same manner. We need genuine discussion and modification to make healthcare in this country better.
We need less political grandstanding
Posted in Education, Politics, Society
Tagged Big Business, Congress, Education, education reform, George W. Bush, healthcare, healthcare reform, House, individual mandates, insurance industry, John Boehner, Michele Bachman, partisan politics, politics, postaday2011, President Clinton, President Obama, public schools, Republicans, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Tea Party, Wyden-Bennett