Conservative Kookiness in Iowa

OK. I should know better. When you pay attention to what conservatives are saying at the Iowa Freedom Forum, attended as it is by religious activists, you’re going to hear kookiness and craziness. But what’s sad is how the “red meat” issues raised by the likes of Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Rick Santorum are so devoid of nutritional value. Empty calories, all of it.

You hear the usual talk about lower taxes and less governmental regulation, even though Republicans under Reagan and the Bushes (along with the Democrats as well) oversaw expansions in government. George H.W. Bush famously said, “Read my lips — no new taxes,” before proceeding to raise taxes once he became president. Along with lower taxes and smaller government, Republicans also claim to support “family values,” a vapid phrase that basically means whatever you want to read into it. I’m not a fan of Obama’s priorities and policies, but one thing I can say for the man is that his life, his wife, and his teenage girls have exuded family values, Thanksgiving controversy or no.

So we know Republicans are supposedly for lower taxes, smaller government, and family values. What else are they for? Abortion, of course, as in restricting it further or even eliminating it. Voter ID laws, because we all know how the “wrong” kind of people are being bussed in en masse to skew voting results in favor of socialism (talk about an urban myth!). And more gun rights, like open carry laws and easier approval for concealed permits to carry.

Egads! These are the issues that sway the activist base of the Republican Party? Fetuses, the specter of more disadvantaged people of color voting, and guns.

Wow. Our country faces serious issues. A crumbling infrastructure. An unsustainable prison system. Perpetual wars. Climate change (even Republicans admit it’s real, though they won’t blame humans for it). Ever widening gaps between rich and poor. Student loan and credit card debt that threaten a fragile economic recovery. Mediocre education. Ever rising health care costs (still the number one cause for personal bankruptcies in America). But forget all that: let’s talk about fetuses, non-existent voter fraud, and guns.

And Republicans like Santorum wonder why “too many people don’t think we care about them.” Gee… I wonder why, Rick.

(A personal note: In 1976, though too young to vote, I supported Gerald Ford rather than Jimmy Carter. In 1984, I voted for Ronald Reagan because I believed Walter Mondale lacked the gravitas to be president at a crucial moment in US-Soviet affairs. Ever since then, the Republican Party has lost me with its cynical culture wars and active suppression of democracy, among other reasons.)