Friday, January 13, 2012

Who Should I Endorse?



A few days ago I asked my Father a very interesting question. I said "Dad, If you were an American would you vote Democrat or Republican". He answered "Democrat". The thing is, my Father is a right wing pro business conservative, so why would he vote Democrat. He went on to say that he could identify more with the Democratic party because he is an Irish Catholic and that traditionally, Irish Americans voted Democrat. Incidentally identity politics in Ireland is something we know all about as the two main parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are ideologically indistinguishable. The reason I asked my father this question in the first place is because I have realised recently that sooner or later Gubu World is going to have to shake the political world to its core and endorse a candidate for President. I have never supported a Republican for President before although I have acknowledged that I was much too hard on George W Bush and think he was a better President than John Kerry would have been. But in 2012 surely the time has come for me to openly support a Republican candidate. And I must say I like Mitt Romney and do believe that a successful business man is the best type of person to address a massive debt problem. But damn it there is something about the Republicans that just irk me and I can't really explain it. Well let me try. Recently I saw an add by Cuban American Congressman Marco Rubio in which he criticises Obama for turning America into a European style welfare state. He opened the advert by saying "My parents fled a country that was pretty much like every other country in the world". Now wait a minute, my country is nothing like Cuba. This genuinely offended me. You can imagine the satisfaction I felt when I heard that Marco Rubio was coming under fire because it emerged that his parents actually fled Cuba a few years before Castro came to power so his sob story was a fib. However Rubio's rant also made me realise something else. Conservative Republicans despise Europe. I mean it really disgusts them. They see us at repulsive welfare states that won't stand up for anything. This does not make me bitter, after all it is very obvious to me that most liberal Europeans despise the United States. But I got to thinking, particularly after watching one of the Republican debates where the candidates were all trying to outdo each other in explaining how un European they are, why should I support a candidate from a party whose dislike for my country is so intense. I know this is not a particularly sophisticated point but we are not dealing with sophisticated things here. Identity politics is tribal by nature. I should be a clear Republican supporter, particularly since my main concern, the Irish economy, would benefit enormously if the US economy were to come roaring back in 2013 with a dynamic fiscal conservative at the helm. That said, I really wish the Republican candidates could just work a bit on being more likable. Some clearly think that being disliked is actually a good thing. I would like to remind them than Ronald Reagan was not only a visionary who liberated half of Europe, he was also adorable.

25 comments:

builder man said...

Can't agree about the 'adorable'
Reagan.He used the cold war as a
pretext for interventions.Massacres
of tens of thousands of Guatemalans
and Salverdoreans his legacy. Iran-Contra: more dirty dealings and
deaths of innocents. The bottom 40%
of US paid out more of their income
in taxes in 1988 than in 1980. The
budget deficit doubled.Deregulation
of financial trading controls led to the global mess we are all suffering from now.The rich of
course got richer.Of the aids
epidemic in 1981 he said: 'Maybe
the Lord brought down the plague
because illicet sex is against the
ten commandments.' Barbara Streisand in 1992:'I will never
forgive Reagan for his genocidal
denial, for blocking funding that
could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.'It was 'glasnost' and 'perestroika'
that ended the cold war. In a USA
today poll 4 days after the fall of
the Berlin wall, Americans gave
Reagan 14% of the credit and
Gorbachev 43%. He turned down
Gorbachev's offer to counter Islamic Fundamentalism together,
and look how that gigantic mistake
turned out. But he had a folksy
charm and that it seems is enough
today to craete the myths.

GW said...

A conundrum to be sure. As to who to support, that of course is your option. I would like to correct what I think is a misconception. There is, I think, a clear difference in the nature of the antipathy between Europeans and conservative Americans.

To the extent their is antipathy on the American right, it is to the welfare state model perfected by Bismark. The right has been fighting the wholesale adoption of that model for almost a century now. The antipathy does not descend down beyond that generality. We don't "hate" Britain or Ireland, etc. Indeed, I have never heard a single criticism of European countries that goes beyond criticism of the "welfare state."

Some of what I see come out of Europe is on a completely different level. Some of the anti-American screed coming out of Europe's newspapers, such as Der Spiegel and the Guardian, reflect an antipathy towards America on almost a personal level. Indeed, I often sit in amazement reading it.

As to the candidates, I doubt we will see a Reaganesque clone on either side in our lifetimes. As to the current batch of candidates, Santorum and Bachman (no longer in) struck me as utterly humorlous - and on that basis alone I dismissed them. As to the others, none seems unlikable beyond the pale, at least to me.

Rob Harris said...

Hi Ted, interesting post again - hope to deal with broader Western issues myself after wasting time over H. Crimbo. Two points I guess.

One of the one striking things I found on US politics is how polarised it is. Many centre-leftists seem to constantly demonise the right, and I am sure it is at least somewhat vice-versa too. Whilst the right projects too much onto the left by describing Obama as a socialist for example, many on the left seem to do the same by conflating most on the right with the religious fundies. Its an odd situation, especially since both dems and republicans share a reasonable bit in common.

I think Fein Gael is ideologically different to Fianna Fail. Sure they are both centre to centre right but Fein Gael differ because they truly seem driven by an ethical and moderately ideological imperative to some degree whilst Fianna Fail are merely the most disgusting opportunists other than a tiny few like Brian O'Lenihan II.

The System Works said...

GW: Bachmann had her charms. I thought her to be Sophia Loren and, erm, Hilary Clinton all rolled into one. If Marcus ever does give up on heterosexuality I wanna be first up to the plate.

The System Works said...

Ted: I agree that calling Obamacare 'European' rather than what it really is (a monstrosity that is bound to fail and take much of the economy with it) is a bad policy. But politicians need to appeal to the dumbest in the crowd.

Jenny said...

Up early. Sunday here. Good morning.
1. I continue to believe Reagan was a phony and made some terrible decisions. See builder man's comments.
2. Kerry did nothing for me but GW was a disaster.
3. To this liberal American, and many allkindsofAmericans I know, Santorum is was too inclined to impose religion, Perry is another cowboy, Huntsman is too esoteric for the Right, Gingrich is nasty, Paul's ideas run the gamut from good to bad, and Romney just does not seem genuine.
4. It's not as though Mr. Obama has received much cooperation on his ideas, including health care. I, personally, do not believe in health insurance but in health care. Mr. Obama did not, could not, go far enough.
5. And I'll vote for him with confidence and hope. His shirt is walking the LA Marathon with me. His signs are in my yard and on my car and bike.

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks for all your excellent comments. I'm having a little lap top problems so I wont be responding to these comments until lunch time tomorrow. Thats at about 9AM Monday for all of you yankee doodles.

Ted Leddy said...

Builder Man

When I say he was adorable I am mainly referring to his persona. It is interesting that one of Americas most conservative Presidents was also one of the most popular. I would put much of this down to his simple likability.

I have defended US Cold War policy in Latin America before but my patience does run out with El Salvador and Guatameala which were not mere right wing regimes that locked up all the leftists. They were despotic regimes that massacared whole villages.

However as I have pointed out before, when you are in a global struggle against tyranny very difficult decisions have to be made. You yourself have defended alliances with Mao and Stalin. You may think the cold war was a pretext for intervention, I think it was a legitimate struggle against global tyranny.

I believe that Glasnost, Perestroika and the USSR's inability to compete with the West (thanks to reagans policies) ended the Cold War.

builder man said...

To Jenny. I was very interested in your post. Like many others her in the UK, we were immensely heartened
by the election of Barak Obama and
what a compliment it was to the
maturity of the American people. Then, as someone who belongs to a group that works for peace and justice in the Middle East, his speech in Cairo opened up such hope
and possibilities for the future. We
thought at last a President who
understands. But now his statements
have become a eulogy to AIPAC. So
what has happened? Can you enlighten me please?

builder man said...

To Ted Leddy. But Gorbachev was not
like any other leader of the USSR,
even endorsed by Margaret Thatcher.
An intelligent President would have
grasped that opportunity. Reagan was
an extremist in his attitude towards
communism; could not see that it
could be moderated towards freedom.
To outspend it militarily paid no
heed to the sufferings that would
result to the ordinary people there.
I am married to a Ukrainian and
there is still a fondness by large
numbers for the Soviet past? Why?
Stability. Everyone had a job and
the dignity which goes with that.
In a globalised economy of course
it was unsustainable but the transition was too quick and too
violent, resulting in dire poverty,
rise in the mega rich, crime and
not much improvement in freedom. The exceptions were those lucky
enough to be incorporated into the
EU. Putin is now putting in a
Roosevelt style New Deal which
should improve the lives of the
poorest but press freedom is still
marginal. Practically everyone who
met Adolf Hitler personally remarked what a warm and charming
person he was.

builder man said...

To Ted Leddy. I forgot to mention that we never had an alliance with
Mao who did not achieve power in
China until 1949. We did fight his
armies in Korea who came to help
the communists there. Amazingly
N.Korea prevails. Must be the atomic
bomb! No wonder Iran wants one!

Ted Leddy said...

GW

The welfare state has its plus and negative aspects. But I do believe the European model is misunderstood in the US. A nation can have a social protection net and still have a vibrant private sector. This is true of Germany and others.

I agree, I find anti Americanism in Europe to be ditastful, lazy and boring.

Ted Leddy said...

Rob

I agree. US politics is about identity for a large portion of the electorate. I am convinced that half of the US hated George W Bush because he was a white Republican from Texas and that the other half hate Obama because he is a black liberal from Chicago.

When I said that FF and FG were "ideologically indistinguisable" I meant that they are both centrist parties. I am a Fine Gael supporter because I believe they have a different ethos to Fianna Fail, the main aspect of which is that they always put the national interest first, unlike FF who govern through populism for electoral purposes.

Ted Leddy said...

TSW

I believe in small efficient government too. But when it comes to health care I think it is a bad reflection on any country that many of its hard working law abiding citizens go bankrupt in the event of an illness. I don't know if Obamacare is the solution but I do believe the state should provide a health care option. Some people will abuse it but so what, it's not about them.

Ted Leddy said...

Hi Jenny

Thanks for your comment and glad to have you back. I find the Reagan worshipping a bit cringy. I liked the way at one of the recent debates Ron Paul dispelled the myth of Reagan, while praising his messages he noted that Reagan was as much of a big spender as most other presidents.

However I must admit, as a European who loves travelling throughout Eastern Europe that we owe Reagan one. He didn't believe in coexisting with the Soviet Union. He believed that the USSR should be peacefully wrestled to the ground. As a result all the countries of central and eastern Europe are now democratic and free.

I read GW's memoirs and came to the conclusion I was a bit hard on him. I was very surprised at the amount of flak he got from the religious right who saw him as a sell out. However his biggest legacy will I believe be a bad economy and bad Foreign Policy decisions.

I like Obama. I find him personally likable. I also think he has been good on Afghanistan, Libya and Al Quaeda. It's his economic record that troubles me. I am torn between believing that he likes to spend money wildly for populist reasons and that he has cleverly pursued the correct mix of cuts and spending designed to ease America through the crisis. I don't know which is true.

But in Ireland I do know that we have made many drastic cuts and all it seems to do is remove money from circulation and contract the economy further and further. So maybe President Obama has it right.

Ted Leddy said...

Builder man

I think it is wrong to call Reagan an extremist. I don't think the USSR should have been "moderated". I think it should have been dismantled. Does that make me an extremist? I think the Russians had no more right to Eastern Europe than Hitler did. They had no right to control, dominate and brutally invade the many nations of central and Eastern Europe. This summer I will be travelling to Poland to watch Ireland play in the European soccer championship. If Ireland qualify for the second phase of the tournament I will be taking my camper van into the Ukraine. If Reagan had of moderated the USSR as you suggest then I would not be looking forward to such a great summer because eastern Europe would still be full of Russian troops, barbed wire and tanks. But now it is full of free countries. And this change happened peacefully.

Im sure some do long for the Soviet era. Many people prefer the coziness and comfort of dictatorship compared to the challenges of democracy. That is human nature. But I do agree that those Eastern nations not yet in the EU have not yet seen the full benefits of democracy.

By the way the west did support Mao during WW2 when his communist forces controlled a large part of the Chinese countryside.

Daniel said...

I'm surprised this election to be finding a republican vote worthy. Is it just me or does Ron Paul make a lot of sense?

Ted Leddy said...

Daniel

Ron Paul is in my opinion the most honest politician I have ever seen or heard. He says the same thing no matter what audience he is in front of. When you see how the global economy has turned on its head in the last few years it is difficult to disagree with his views. However he will never get the Republican nomination because his foreign policy is further to the left of Joe Higgins or Denis kucinich.

Rob Harris said...

I think Ron Paul is a very disturbing individual. The has a very strong far-right/conspiracist support base. Some suggest he isn't responsible for that fact. That would be a fair enough assertion if it weren't for the Newsletters he published http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/company-ron-paul-keeps_613474.html?nopager=1 which for some reason the Meja have ignored!

The System Works said...

Ted: Obamacare will turn every large insurance corporation into the equivalent of Fannie and Freddy, requiring permanent taxpayer bailouts to stay afloat. It compels insurers to offer the same premium to all applicants of the same age and geographical location without regard to most pre-existing conditions. Ever hear of all those mortgages banks gave to people without the ability to pay back in recent years? This is the same thing, with insurance.

On Ron Paul: I would strongly disagree with comparing him to the likes of Joe Higgins on foreign policy. Paul is a principled non-interventionist. He seeks free trade with all nations. The likes of Joe Higgins, Michael D. Higgins, Norris et al want to stick their noses into the business of other countries and use a lot of taxpayer money to do it. They often seek to promote ties with awful regimes they like and cut off trade with far better standing nations they don't like, such as Israel.

builder man said...

To Ted Leddy. I believe any help to the Chinese communists was marginal -
overwhelmingly it went to the Nationalists. Anyway that is beside
the point. When Reagan instigated the
slaughter of thousands in Latin America, the USA was not under threat
of extinction as was the UK in WW2.
The Soviet empire was already crumbling, e.g. In 1956 Poland
elected an independent gov. and in
1980 Solidarity was formed. An extremist for me is one who follows
their agenda or ideology with no
regard to the human consequences.
Al Quaida, Eretz Zionists and Reagan fit that category. He was a
blinkered anti-communist. Your
statement that the USSR should be
'dismantled' without regard to the
human consequences smacks of Western imperialism. Surely it is for them to choose what sort of
society they want provided they do
not threaten others. (I'm referring
to the Gorbachev era when freedoms
were increasing).

Ted Leddy said...

Rob

Ron Paul's base is very hard to figure out. He has support right across the spectrum. When it looked like he might do very well early on some of the far right conspiracy theories came out but they seem to have subsided since it has become clear he won't get the nomination. Is it possible he could run as an independent?

Ted Leddy said...

TSW

Interesting points on Obamacare. I don't quite agree that the reckless lending of financial institutions to those who couldn't repay is the same as compulsory health insurance. In my view a public option in healthcare should exist. Whatever about tax payers money being spent to keep bad investments "afloat" like with Freddie and Fannie, I think tax payers money should be spent to keep people alive.

Perhaps Obamacare is not the most efficient solution but no other administration in US history has ever brought in an alternative so I say, lets give it a shot.

I understand that Ron Paul's politics is 180 degrees different to that of Joe Higgins. However you and I have discussed here before the argument of, "do they (Islamic terrorists) hate us because of who we are or what we do". Ron Paul has said consistantly that he believes believes US Foreign Policy, ie foreign bases around the world is the reason that there is so much resentment toward the US. He believes that the build up of forces in the Gulf is why Iran is acting so belligerantly in its pursuit of nuclear power. In this respect his views are similar to the far left.

Ted Leddy said...

Builder Man

The US was under threat of extinction during the Cold War, it nearly happened a couple of times. This does not give the a carte blanche but it did mean that exceptionally difficult decisions did have to be made.

"Surely it is for them to choose what sort of
society they want provided they do
not threaten others". I agree, that is why I think the west should have stood up to the Soviets when they held Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechislovakia and others by brute force.

builder man said...

To Ted Leddy.I don't think the threat of extinction by the USSR in Reagan's
time is really valid. When Reagan took power he changed the policy of
'detente' to one of aggressive anti-communist and anti-Soviet measures,
including commercial attacks, massively increasing the US military budget and thereby forcing the USSR
to do the same which hugely weakened its economy. He then supported conflicts in Nicaragua,
Afghanistan, Mozambique, Angola,
Salvador, Panama, Honduras and Grenada to depose unsympathetic
regimes. These are hardly the
actions of one who fears nuclear
extinction. If you come across an
aggressive pitbull in the park, you
don't poke it with a stick, do you?
In the 1980's the US had considerable nuclear superiority
over the USSR - World Security Institute. If you are suggesting
military action should have been
taken to free the people of Eastern
Europe from the Soviets, does this
also apply to using force to free
the Palestinians from occupation?