Have you seen the latest reality TV show? It’s called “The Lunatic Factor” and it features several men, clad in suits, competing to become the Republican presidential candidate in the Fall 2012 election. Apparently the Republican Party has been hijacked by the lunatic fringe of right-wing politics, also known by names such as The Tea Party, the Christian Right, the Koch brothers, Neo-Nazis, KKK, & other such. The contestants travel from state to state, from debate to debate trying desperately to one-up each other in lunacy in hopes of gaining enough delegates to take to the convention this summer and get the Holy Grail, the Republican nomination.
The cast is quite entertaining. There is one candidate who, as Governor of Massachusetts, was pro-choice and signed into law a public healthcare bill that is very nearly the same thing on a state level as President Obama’s National Healthcare Law (Obamacare). Said candidate, however, now espouses a pro-life, anti-abortion viewpoint and finds government guarantees of healthcare for all to be despicable. When this gentleman worked in private industry, he specialized in hostile takeovers of companies, selling off everything that could turn a profit, and leaving them to die. A great many people lost their livelihoods due to his efforts. He became incredibly wealthy in the process. Yet he now claims to have the ability to be a job creator. For the record, a great deal of his massive wealth is stashed in offshore accounts that do not report income to the U.S. government and he avoids taxes this way. A lot of his other income comes from stock dividends and such that are taxed at a much lower rate than income that comes from the 40 hour weeks most Americans put in. But does any of this put him in the lunatic category? No, just corporate. However, there is the story about him putting the family dog in one of those doggie carriers and strapping it to the roof of the car, and driving to Canada for a vacation with the dog on the roof. Lunatic? You be the judge.
Another contestant in this show is a man who constantly touts family values while residing with his third wife. This man led a movement to impeach a President of the U.S. for lying to the public about his affair with an intern, while himself carrying on an affair while his second wife was deathly ill. Apparently the serious illness of his first wife led to the affair resulting in his second wife and the serious illness of his second wife led to the affair that resulted in his third wife. There are no current signs of illness in the third wife so far. Lucky for her. She’d be toast if past experience is any guidepost. Lunatic? You be the judge.
Of course, one of my favorite contestants in this free for all is the gentleman from Texas, who seems to be against government,….period. Yet he seeks the highest office in the land, with the ostensible purpose of dismantling said government as best as he can. This is a gentleman who has gone on record as opposing income tax, just about every government function, with the sole exception of a big-assed military to be used to dictate to the rest of the world, and who wants to return to the gold standard. Really? Why not just go back to the old trustworthy barter system? Lunatic? Oh I believe this is a no-brainer. Absolutely yes.
In the very best reality TV tradition, several contestants have already been eliminated, forced to drop out of the race. There was the pizza mogul, turned political candidate who thought that a big business model is the answer to all problems, forgetting that a big business model with a lack of regulation is what got the economy in its current mess. He too had some extra-marital pecadilloes, but denied them. Then there was the lady whose husband runs a faith-based clinic that seeks to cure homosexuality by getting gays to accept Jesus. She sought to infuse every element of society and government with religious direction, forgetting that we live in a country where the constitution guarantees separation of church and state. She won’t be President, but apparently the religious right in Minnesota still see fit to send her to Congress.
I’ve saved the best for last, the current front-runner, none other than Rick Santorum, the ultra-conservative former Senator from the State of Pennsylvania. Mr. Santorum certainly deserves his well-earned credentials as a lunatic aka “Bat Shit Crazy.” Recent statements from Mr. Santorum have endeared him to the lunatic fringe that is in current control of the Republican Party. Regarding environmental activists, Santorum said, “We’re not here to serve the earth….man is the objective.” Apparently he is not in touch with the fact that man cannot continue to survive on planet Earth if we continue to pollute the piss out of it. Mr. Santorum shares the view, promoted by various corporate interests, that polluting the air and water and continuing to melt off the polar ice caps and destroying our sensitive ecology is a small price to pay for big-assed profits. Now there’s a real Republican for you.
Let’s not stop there, though. It goes without saying that Santorum is opposed to universal healthcare or any government interference at all in the healthcare market for that matter. A recent quote from Mr. Santorum regarding health insurance goes thus, ” Health insurance plans shouldn’t be required to cover prenatal testing, because that results in more abortions.” Oh yes. Mr. Santorum is a dyed in the wool religious right anti-abortion fighting machine. He went on to explain that amniocentesis is primarily for the purpose of finding birth defects and in most cases when a doctor detects a problem, abortion is recommended. So apparently Mr. Santorum feels that parents should be subjected to caring for a child that will have extensive physical issues and will never be able to care for itself rather than avoid the problem altogether. Mr. Santorum seems to feel that God wants children with physical and mental disabilities. Oh my. Mr. Santorum has also gone on record as opposing the President’s order that church operated schools and social services provide health insurance that covers birth control for female employees. Perhaps he feels that those disabled children are God’s punishment on the 98% of all women who use birth control at some point in their lives.
This isn’t all. Last, but not least, Santorum weighed in on public education (while insinuating that the President was not a good Christian). Regarding public education, he had this to say, “Education is anachronistic….local communities and parents should be the ones in control over education, not the federal government….state governments have not done a good job either…..federally or state-run education is not designed to meet the needs of the customer.” OMG! Where to start.
First of all, Mr. Santorum needs to take a basic course in government to understand how public schools are run. Public schools in America are now and have always been, run locally, not by states or by the federal government. Part of the problem in funding results from the fact that most public school funding comes from local property taxes. State Boards of Education do occasionally get involved in directing curriculum, as in the case of some Southern states that mandate the teaching of Creationism alongside evolution in science classes. That is not the norm. Local school districts decide what is taught in public schools. The federal government gives aid to schools in high poverty areas, based on the numbers of students who come from families living below the poverty line, but they do not dictate what is taught. Under the Republican administration of G.W. Bush, the No Child Left Behind Act came into being and the federal government pushed forward the idea that all kids should go to college and all kids regardless of social status, ability, or whatever could be successful in school, and if they’re not let’s blame the teachers and gut teachers’ unions and go back to paying them all 1950’s wages without benefits. But I digress. Rick Santorum is out of touch with reality. There is no federal or state running of public schools.
As for Mr. Santorum’s assertion that local communities and parents should be running public schools, well Duh! They do. What he seems to have issue with here is the separation of church and state and the fact that public schools have always existed to educate, not indoctrinate. They have existed to see to it that kids of all income levels, ethnicities, and belief systems are given an appropriate and free education that will enable them to be functioning citizens in the largest and wealthiest economy on the face of the earth. So far they’ve done remarkably well.
Anyway, The Lunatic Factor goes on. Front runners come and front runners go. It remains to be seen who the Lunatic in Chief will be when the actual election kicks into gear this fall. Frankly, from this viewpoint, the fact that so many lunatics are vying for the Republican nomination is not what is so scary. What is scary is that there are millions of American citizens out there who actually believe that one of these lunatics should be ensconced in the most powerful political position on the planet. Stay tuned for an episode near you.