So, I figured I would annoy a few people when I wrote about the GOP candidates the other day. For some reason I forgot how mad people get about politics, especially this late in the game. I was a little taken aback!
I’m not a political blogger, and I haven’t had the stomach to follow the race in detail this time around (and I may be the only American who hasn’t seen one single political ad this election), so don’t expect my thoughts to be especially consistent or admirable, or even very edited. I’m not trying to convert anyone, or even argue. But several people did ask (with varying degrees of outrage) why I feel the way I do about the candidates, so I’m ‘splaining myself. You can take this little rant as a sample of what your typical semi-informed conservative Catholic voter thinks, and why I’m so mad about our choices this election.
HUNTSMAN: He’s one of the only Republicans who is anti-torture. Opposition to torture is a fundamentally pro-life issue — so am I morally required to vote for Huntsman? No. I believe that there are many ways a Catholic can interpret their obligation not to cooperate with evil. People need to work out on their own how practical or canny or idealistic they need to be with their vote. I really don’t see the point of voting for Huntsman.
PERRY: What is there to say? He’s just a useful idiot for the kind of conservative who puts the death penalty right after apple pie. The only good thing about him is that, when people stopped liking him, it made me like people a little bit more.
GINGRICH: Was his religious conversion genuine? Probably. Who knows? Who cares? I have a personal problem with Gingrich the man, but that wouldn’t keep me from voting for Gingrich for president, if I had a good reason. But I don’t. His very long political record is abysmal. What has he done for us, as pro-lifers, and as social conservatives? He is what’s wrong with the Republican party, so why would I count on him to bring it back to life? I blame Newt Gingrich and everyone who admires him for creating the America that wanted Barack Obama for president. Conservatives beclown themselves by putting any kind of faith in this man. He is a pig, personally and politically.
PAUL: I don’t blame people who find him appealing. Some of his ideas make perfect sense, and he says things that nobody else is saying. Very refreshing, when the United States has gone so bonkers so fast in the last few years (or, if you’re feeling cynical, in the last fifty years).
But there is so much wrong with him, I just can’t even deal with the thought of voting for him. Every good idea he has brings a brain damaged twin along with it. For instance, he thinks the Iraq War was a horrible idea — okay, good (and good for him for saying so when no one else was). But he also thinks we had no business getting into World War II. If you adhere to a Just War Doctrine, there is a lot to like about Paul’s distaste and mistrust of war — but he’s not basing his ideas on a Catholic understanding of the responsibilities of power. He’s basing them on an unwillingness to get involved, period. He’s consistent, yes, but in a Cain (as in Cain and Abel, not Herman!) way. This is no good. This is terrifying. Scratch a libertarian and you get a cold hearted SOB.
Not only are his foreign policy ideas anti-Christian, they’re incredibly naive. All politics is global politics now — that genie’s out of the bottle. You can’t just opt out anymore. Many of us hate how the US pokes its nose into every other country’s business — it stretches us too thin, fiscally and with the lives of soldiers; and most of the time we’re not being altruistic at all, we’re just trying to put the squeeze on other nations. BUT. Can you even imagine how President Ron Paul would comport himself in diplomatic meetings with other countries? Whatever shred of dignity we have left as a nation after four years of Obama, that would be g-o-n-e after Ron Paul does his Rumplestiltskin “it’s not fair, leave me alone, mine mine mine” routine.
As someone who has needed help many and many a time, I do not trust a man who apparently prides himself on not wanting to help — whether it’s through foreign policy, or domestically, in the form of welfare or even taxes used for the public good. I remember when he spoke out in favor of a couple of local tax evaders who stockpiled weapons in their home, expecting a gun battle with police (over no issue other than non-payment of taxes). He called them heroes, and said it was civil disobedience. That was when I first started to mistrust him.
Plus, YES, I think he should give back the money the neo-Nazis gave him. Even non-Catholics should be able to understand that giving scandal is bad news. And yes, I think he should ask himself why it is he appeals to neo-Nazis in the first place.
Moreover, he has absolutely no facility for getting things done, as far as I can see. Blame his fellow congressmen if you like, but his record shows that he has lots and lots of bad ideas, and is such an a-hole in general that nobody wants to work with his good ideas. After a certain point, it’s all his fault. How would he be different as president?
These are just a few things off the top of my head that give me serious pause when I consider giving Ron Paul any sort of real power. He’s said enough things that jar and disturb me to make me realize that he’s not just a quirky, honest-to-a-fault, down home guy — there’s something really wrong with him.
SANTORUM: I don’t hold it against him that he had to do business with Arlen Specter. Santorum is enough of a political adult to realize that you have to return political favors. The other 99% of the time, the guy is decent and dependable (and I guess that’s why people got so extremely upset when I made fun of him in what I thought was a mostly harmless way). But I just don’t see him beating Obama, at all, at all. He is prissy and querelous and always speaks like a man with a grievance, which is tiresome and uninspiring. Gotta bring in the guy who has a chance of beating Obama.
Which brings us to ROMNEY. Yes, I resent the political machine which drags up these ridiculous stooges and waits for us to take responsibility for voting for them. The guy is an empty suit. I see this. I used to be so angry at the Republicans, and say that they were just as bad as the Democrats — that there was no real difference, just a different flavor of corruption.
Well, after life with Obama, I think differently. I would be immensely grateful to have a president who only does a little bit of harm, instead of striding around the globe with a meat cleaver, the way Obama has done. All right?
So that’s why I’m voting for Romney. I don’t really think he’s terribly pro-life . . . but he’s not avidly pro-abortion, like Obama. I don’t really think he gets what’s so bad about Romneycare . . . but he’s not going to use heathcare as a Catholic-persecuting machine, like Obama did. I’ll be voting against Obama, and I think I have a serious responsibility to do that. I’m not thinking about four years down the road, or what “message” I’m sending to the GOP by appearing to support a joke like Romney. I’m just trying to stop the bleeding.
The beginning of this election season was like moving into a new house. Oh boy, a chance for a fresh start! You look around and make all these wonderful plans: going to paint all of this part, take this wall out, maybe put in a little Japanese garden outside the kitchen window. The possibilities! So you start to make inquiries, and realize that everything costs more than you expected, and the only workmen in the area are druggies and ex-cons. Okay, so you lower your sights. Maybe just a few, really simple changes — even that could make a big difference.
Then the furnace blows up. At first you think, “Okay, we’ll use the renovation money to upgrade the furnace instead.” But then you discover that the previous owners, apparently just out of sheer awfulness, had jerry rigged the furnace in such a way that the vibrations it caused were steadily wearing away the foundations of the house. So never mind getting even a very basic new furnace: what you need to do is put up some emergency beams to keep the house from collapsing, and
— oh, you’re still cold? Pick up a $30 space heater at Walmart on the way home, just to get you through until the spring.
Mitt Romney is that space heater. Nobody’s pretending he’s a long-term solution. He’s certainly not what you wanted, or even what you need, and when you think about your original dreams for your country, just less than a year ago, you laugh bitterly, and curse the former owners. But you have to do something, just to get by. At least it’s better than leaving things the way they are. Meanwhile, you have some major repairs to do.