Rick Perry: Out The Gate Gaffing
He may be much-toted as a potential frontrunner but his first week on the presidential campaign trail has been all but uncontroversial. A discussion of three issues that give the Texas governor a dose of perhaps unwelcome attention.
Confederate Flag License Plates
This topic is especially sensitive in a year that just happens to be the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. For many, the Confederate States of America stands for disunion, four years of bloodshed, and slavery; selling license plates with as tantalizing a symbol of this regime as the Confederate flag can seem to be an ill-conceived and insensitive attempt to raise money. Commemorations of such civil rights milestones as the issuing of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in 2012 will bring such painful historical issues as slavery to the forefront of the public eye, and a strong association with symbols of institutionalized racism and rebellion may not sit well with the public during the crucial presidential nomination process. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and many others may see such symbols on license plates as a mere method for honoring a proud heritage but there are plenty of descendants of the heritage of the oppressed who beg to differ and they may voice their opinions at the ballot box. Perry needs to tread carefully when dealing with this issue. He might risk giving his opponents some mud to sling at him or at worst gaining a negative association in the minds of voters.
A Constitutional Overhaul
While several of the amendments Perry has proposed be made to the Constitution are the darling of many a conservative (e.g. defining marriage, requiring balanced budgets), there are several that are just strange . Repeal the amendment that allows for the direct election of U.S. senators? Are we trying to strengthen democracy or weaken it in this case? What is so wrong with a little “populist rage” (what Perry terms the major and unwelcome factor behind the drive to adopt this amendment) being the catalyst for a change to occur in this country? What are the true feelings of this supposed Tea Party stalwart regarding the “populist rage” that lends impetus to that movement?
How about repealing the 16th amendment and nipping the collection of federal income taxes in the bud? Having more of my paycheck to myself appeals to me as much as the next person but this begs the question of how the average citizen reacts when virtually all government services cease functioning. That is exactly what would happen without taxpayer dollars to fund such programs. Before a regular income tax was implemented the government relied primarily on tariffs as a source of funding, and in this great age of free trade and huge trade deficits this source of federal income doesn’t look all that promising.
We Have ObamaCare and RomneyCare, Why Not PerryCare?
President Obama and former governor Romney have received a great deal of scrutiny for healthcare systems they have helped implement, and it may soon be Perry’s turn to join the club. Despite concentrating on the tried and true formula of attacking the 2010 healthcare overhaul and promising to repeal it, Perry finds himself under scrutiny for his own ideas for healthcare. More specifically, some have questioned the viability of a regional-based scheme he has pitched as an alternative to the federal program and his efforts to block implementation of federal insurance exchanges in the state come across more as political machinations than solutions to the very real problem of a state where one-quarter of the population is uninsured.
In just about any political race in this day and age, every facet of a candidate’s life is under the microscope and every misstep is noticed. Rick Perry’s first week has given us ample demonstration of this fact and one can only hope such things pass from the public view and do not come and bite back with a vengeance later on.
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