Stephen Harper apes Republican nuttiness

TheStar.com – opinion
Published On Wed Jan 11 2012.    By Haroon Siddiqui, Editorial Page

I am disappointed at the emergence of Mitt Romney as the most likely Republican presidential nominee. I was rooting, by turn, for Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich.

Any one of them as the nominee would have suffered the same fate as Barry Goldwater in 1964 — wiped out by Lyndon Johnson, who also won the House for the Democrats. That landslide jolted moderate Republicans into reclaiming their party from the racist rump that had taken control of it.

A similar cleansing is in order, given the nuttiness of the party’s current rank and file. An electoral drubbing would also be beneficial for Canada, discrediting the Stephen Harper policies that have been drawn from extremist Republican theology. These include:

Opposing gun controls and curbing global warming.

Cutting taxes for corporations and the rich on the discredited theory that they would create jobs.

Decrying big government while merrily milking it for pork barrelling in targeted constituencies, funding friendly groups and splurging on big-ticket military procurement — thereby racking up deficits.

Spending billions on jails when crime rates are at a 25-year low.

Ignoring expert opinion, be it on climate change, taxation, incarceration or a scientific national census.

Destroying political opponents with negative ads and being vindictive with critical NGOs, charities and think-tanks by cutting off their funding or questioning their patriotism (as in the current attacks on opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline).

Legislating private financing of elections so that the public interest is surrendered to those who can buy politicians and political parties.

Giving blind support to Israel, demonizing Palestinians and declaring Iran to be the biggest threat to world peace making it a suitable target of war.

It is true that racially — and religiously — charged hysteria has always characterized Republican primaries. Still, the crankiness of the party’s working class, white and evangelical base is unprecedented.

Their underlying anger, even their sense of persecution, may be excused, given the economic crisis at home and the decline of America abroad. But their irrationality and hypocrisy are something to behold.

Unfettered capitalism sank the economy but it should not be reined in. Indeed, corporate fat cats like Romney and candidates like Gingrich and Rick Santorum who fed off corporate contracts can be counted on to save America from corporate greed.

America needs smaller government but the Pentagon, social security and medicare should not be touched. What needs axing instead is the comparatively minuscule program of food stamps (ostensibly accessed disproportionately by African-Americans).

The long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq waged on borrowed money helped bankrupt the nation but Barack Obama is wrong to resist those braying for a war on Iran.

If 46 million Americans lack health care and 45 million are poor and six million kids are homeless, it’s their own fault.

Romney cannot be trusted because Mormonism is a cult.

Obama should be denied a second term because — well, because he’s black.

Rather than confronting the Republican and Tea Party crackpots, the candidates have been pandering to them.

Gingrich calls Obama “the food stamp president” who exhibits “Kenyan, anti-colonial behaviour.” Romney says the president has created “an entitlement society.”

Gingrich says “the African-American community should demand paycheques and not be satisfied with food stamps.” Santorum says he does not want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

Perry says Obama is waging war on Christianity.

Santorum glorifies the “Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam” in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.

Sex seems to preoccupy the presidential contenders (as it does the mullahs in Iran). Perry and Santorum oppose abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Ron Paul is endorsed by a preacher who advocates the death penalty for homosexuality. Gingrich sees “a gay and secular fascism imposing its will” on America. Santorum rails against “the dangers of contraception.”

In this “parade of pygmies,” as the race has been dubbed, Romney looks decidedly moderate — in comparison. He will still likely lose to Obama in November, but not as decisively as the Republican Party deserves to.

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