Monday, April 13, 2015

And Then There Were Four (the Nominees so Far)

Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton have added their names to the Presidential slate alongside Ted Cruz in the past week and now another crazy has added his name to the fray in Florida’s Marco Rubio. More will follow, including almost certainly Jeb Bush, but let’s take a brief look at those who have declared so far.

I have already discussed the crazy that is Ted Cruz, but Rand Paul is not far behind, even as many in the mainstream media attempt to paint him as a GOP outsider who offers sensible solutions to our problems. What does he propose along that path? Well first is the tired mantra of “taking our country back,” though it is unclear from who other than non-whites, non-Christians, non-conservatives, anyone crazy enough to support the policies of our sitting President and those that are not terribly sanguine about returning to the values of the Middle Ages. Paul is also among those who attacks Obama relentlessly and is essentially a Tea Party supporter of small government with radical ideas unsupported by data or reason. Alongside many libertarians, he believes the Federal Reserve should be closed forever, that we should shrink the government, cut taxes and balance the budget. He doesn’t want government regulation, even over the environment or drugs, but does think abortion should be illegal (though he is okay with birth control and the day after pill) and that gays should be allowed to form civil unions (though not marriage at the moment). He has troubling perspectives on race and any form of affirmative action, to some extent like his father, though he does support civil liberties and repeal of the Patriot Act and other attempts to spy on Americans. He also has a troubling stand on the “anti-vaccine” movement, opposes gun control of any kind and wants stronger border control.

Hillary Clinton is a more reasonable option, I suppose, and one who could finally add a women’s name to the most coveted office in the world. But I worry about her age, the vitriol she elicits in some circles and her more conservative political platform of the past. I might take some hope from the more populist stance she has taken to launch her latest campaign, but I’m not sure I really believe it, worry that the lack of competition for the nomination will leave her too comfortable heading into the post-convention political cauldron and fear that the GOP and its Fox News conduit will pound her endlessly with the latest email scandal and probably even drudge up the old baseless scandals from the 90s.

And now the fourth, Marco Rubio, who does offer a compelling narrative as the son of a bartender and maid, both Cuban immigrants, who rose for those humble beginnings through the Florida GOP to become a Senator at a relatively young age (he is only 43 now). Rubio, for his part, has already attacked Clinton backhand with one of the concerns many of us have, as “a leader from yesterday.” Yet what does he stand for? Early indications include the following hints from his website: 1. Rubio has worked hard to burnish his national-security credentials, so it's no surprise he apparently has a slew of pages dedicated to topics like Cuba, support for veterans, standing with Israel (presumably opposing Iran), stopping the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), and having a "strong military." Additionally, there is another website URL— "worst negotiator" — that suggests Rubio will release a video going after President Barack Obama's nuclear negotiations with Iran. 2. Rubio appears set to go big on his controversial tax plan, as another video URL is dedicated to it. According to Politico, Rubio "would use the tax code to reward families with children while slashing levies on business and investment income but keeping a top rate personal income rate of 35 percent, far higher than many Republicans would like." 3. Additionally, Rubio's site seems to indicate he will focus on net neutrality, the Obama administration's push to regulate the Internet as a utility. One URL states, "Government is crashing the internet party" while another declares, "No net neutrality." So the early signs are tax policies that hurt too many Americans, allowing the terrorists in Iran to get closer to a nuclear weapon and ensuring that business interests trump those of an open, democratic Internet. Maybe not at the same level of blustering insanity as either Cruz or Paul, but not my idea of a great future for the country.

Thus at the moment, it appears to be a battle between a scary firebrand reactionary band of GOP upstarts or a return to the past (either yet another Bush or yet another Clinton). Ugh!

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