by Joe Shea
July 15, 2014
RICK PERRY OR RAND PAUL? NO DIFFERENCE TO ME
BRADENTON, Fla., July 15, 2014 (update) -- If I were a Republican asked to choose between Rand Paul and Rick Perry in a GOP primary, I'd have to think hard about it.
What I like about Rand Paul is his somewhat hard-nosed libertarianism. What I like about Rick Perry is the occasional gleam of compassion I see in him.
Is Rand Paul for gay marriage, abortion on demand and legal marijuana? Those are among the issues that most impact individual freedom, embraced by libertarians within the limits of non-violent and non-destructive behavior.
Paul should be for all three if he is a true libertarian. I'm not clear on what his positions are on any of those issues, but I sorely doubt he stands with real libertarians on all of them. I think he's probably a bit of a hypocrite who uses the language of the libertarian to cloak the rough fur of a Republican.
What impresses me most about Rick Perry, despite the nagging suspicion that he's dumb as a post, as that famous debate persuaded me when he forgot which three Cabinet-level agencies he'd shut down, is his belief that we are imprisoning far too many people, ruining too many young lives with police records, and pursuing too many victimless crimes.
Update, July 25 But a new development has dramatically changed the trajectory of Rick Perry's bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. That is a result of his calling up 1,000 National Guard troops to do border control duty with the US Border Patrol - or in spite of it. By calling up the troops himself, as opposed to having the White House call them up,
Perry can order arrests and apprehensions of suspected illegals at the border - at least until the U.S. Supreme Court stepos in to tell him to stop usurping the federal government's role in contriolling immigration. Given the massive support for tougher enforcement among conservative Republicans, he could translate a tough-on-immigration profile into a huge boost in his popularity among conservatives, so maybe he isn't so dumb, after all.
To counter the governor's move, the White House has called for screening Honduran adolescents and children for those who can enter the United States "as refugees or on humanitarian grounds," the New York Times reports, while they are still at home in Central America - sparing them the dangerous trip to the United States via Mexico.
That response will probably win a lot of Hispanic support, while Perry's move will undoubtedly and completely turn them off. It is also an interesting variation on the solution proposed in this story (below) just eight days ago.End Update
I'm attracted, as I think many Democrats are, to the ideas of the Libertarian Party inasmuch as they want to give me the freedom to do unto myself whatever I please, stopping at suicide, which I believe we have a legal and moral duty to stop when possible.
I have to recognize, though, that giving me some freedoms - to shoot up heroin, for instance - empowers other people to smuggle and sell heroin, not a result I want. So, for me, the philosophy has its limits, even though it is an outgrowth of some of the thinking that is enshrined in those stirring words of the Declaration of Independence - the right to "llfe, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The Founding Fathers were not social liberals by modern standards. Even Jefferson, the author of those words, owned slaves, and his slave mistress, Sally Hemmings, bore him children he did not have the courtesy to claim.
But you had to be a pretty hard-nosed radical to tell the British Empire to shove it, and by that standard he would have been a Weather Underground kind of radical now. Although he was the author of those imperishable words, he would not endorse them if confronted with the socio-sexual smorgasbord of today. None of the Founding Fathers would.
But how does Rick Perry (by the way, do either of these guys have a middle name like Ian, Ivan or Ike?) lead folks over there in Texas to believe that if it were all up to him, he'd ship all those little kids from Central America back home the day they arrive? There's not much compassion in that stance, but his personal feelings about them are probably a little different than his political position. Maybe he's a little bit of a hypocrite, too.
I'm not really clear what President Obama's position is, either, although lately he seems to be reacting to criticism of his handling of the issue by getting harder-nosed than he used to be.
What is the right moral position, and how would it take political shape?
Well, we allow rich would-be immigrants to get permanent resident visas if they invest $500,000 here (or, as Newt Gingrich allowed Rupert Murdoch to do, give the Speaker of the House a $5 million advance for his book).
Why not allow these poor immigrants from Central America to pay our embassies the same $7,000 they now hand over to drug cartel smugglers to bring them to America?
For that money, they'd get a 10-year agricultural worker visa allowing them one season of work at a time, renewable for free upon return home. They'd also get a free train ride to El Centro, Calif., Laredo, Tex., or San Luis, Ariz., and when their visa is up, a safe ride home - it's 2,000 miles from Phoenix to Tegulcigapa, the capital of Honduras, much of it through lawless regions of Mexico.
That approach ought to square with both Republican and libertarian principles, has a caring moral foundation and would give those workers a chance to transform their own lives and their own countries with the cash and ideas they bring back home.
President George W. Bush was the fellow who signed the law that lets Central Americans stay here, if apprehended, a lot longer than Mexicans can.
His interest in doing so was putatively to address the problem of sex trafficking of Central American women and children; however, the Great Dissembler might actually have had an ear cocked to his fellow Texans, whose ranches and fields rely on illegal migrant labor, and to the US Chamber of Commerce, which knows only too well that the profits of many businessmen greatly depend on illegals.
Rand Paul admits that the border issue amounts to a "humanitarian crisis."
"Right now," he told one Murdoch minion recently, "we have a humanitarian nightmare down there, with every child from Central America wanting to come across the border. You can't have a beacon to the whole world to come unless you have a secure border. So that's why many of us conservatives have been saying we have to secure the border first."
You'd think he would argue that to solve the problem of being a "beacon" to the world they could just tear down the Statue of Liberty and chisel out Emma Lazarus' poem from its base. That is the "beacon" they deny, after all. And her timeless lines, "Send them, the homeless, tempest-tos't to me" are language the Third World loves about our country, and the part of our national spirit that right-wingers want to extinguish.
Our national compassion is embodied in the man and President, Abraham Lincoln, whose desire to unify and save our nation triumphed over the political apathy toward slavery that had preceded his presidency throughout much of the country. He did not fight the South over slavery but over the integrity of the nation our forefathers built from the original 13 colonies.
The end of slavery was a battle taken on to justify the North in its war against the South, when in fact many Americans even in the North were indifferent to the plight of the slaves. While there was an abundance of noisy, persistent and violent abolitionists helping to drive the issue into the national consciousness of 1861. Lincoln's adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation came later, in 1863, when its increment of outrage against the South could be seized to help propel the Union successfully through two more years of war.
I say that his desire to unify "triumphed" because it fought off so many other possible motives to justify the huge losses then being suffered by both sides - 10 times as many lives as we lost in Vietnam.
If I were a Republican today - and I used to be one, even after Watergate - I would try to look into the souls of both men to search for the spirit that seeks to unify our country, rather than for an ideological or a political strategy that divides the GOP from the rest of us.
The damage done to American unity by Fox News, with its ability to galvanize the right and divide our country through Australian- and British-style tabloid journalism, is incalculable.
So I would seek the man or woman best qualified to heal the deep divisions Rupert Murdoch and his minions have amplified and now celebrate every day.
That wouldn't be a Republican, for sure, even if Chris Christie comes close. Rand Paul or Rick Perry? A pox upon them both!