Is Rick Perry the GOP’s great hope?

Published 9:48 am Friday, July 8, 2011

There is no news in noting that Republicans seem somewhat unenthusiastic about the collection of presidential hopefuls currently campaigning. And there has been a good deal of political talk about the possibility of Texas Governor Rick Perry deciding to declare his intentions to run for president.

So what does Perry bring to the Republicans that gives them hope he can defeat Barack Obama in 2012?

Perry began his political life in 1984, as a Democrat in Texas, a flaw Republicans seem unwilling to hold against him. In 1989 he converted to the Republican Party just in time to get a statewide political appointment. Perry was later at the right place and time to be appointed to replace Governor George Bush, a similar straight talking Texan, as Bush moved to the Presidency. Perry has since won three elections as Texas Governor.

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But it is not Perry’s electability that draws Republicans to him. It is his political conservatism and the jobs record of Texas that suggests to Republicans he may be their best candidate.

Perry, you may recall, mentioned that succession from the US was always a possibility for Texas, a statement loved by the far Right of American politics. But that Perry is a conservative is a given, his credentials in this regard and unchallenged.

What makes Perry attractive beyond that conservatism is the performance of Texas as a “job creator.” According to the Dallas Fed, Texas created 43 percent of the new jobs in America from June 2009 through May 2011.

How did they do that, and can that be replicated across the US?

First, Texas has a couple of unique advantages in the current economy. Energy industry profits are booming and Texas is a rich energy market. And agricultural commodities for export are thriving, benefitting the Texas cattle and cotton businesses, not to be duplicated in many states.

But Texas has other political tools that have contributed to their jobs growth, a condition noted by conservatives as “powerful evidence of the superiority of Republican ideas” according to a recent LA Times article.

So what are the economic ideas that Republicans tout from Texas that would work for the rest of the nation and could be coming to a state near you in the future if Perry is elected president?

Low wages is one of those building blocks. Texas is tied with the powerful state of Mississippi for having the highest percentage of workers at or below the minimum wage.

Is this a Republican values? Maybe. Remember, Republicans opposed auto workers “excessive” wages and teachers pay.

High poverty is a Texas condition in the Perry economy too. With the most limited of social service networks Texas elects to ignore the impact of poverty in the state.

And Texas has the highest portion of any state in the number of citizens without any health care, a distinction over 49 other states.

Is this really the model Republicans envision nationally for our future? Lower and lower wages for working Americans, higher and higher poverty, and less and less available health care for those who cannot afford it, are these the values Republicans trump as superior for America?

It seems so, as Republicans in Washington do their part in seeking to end Medicare as we know it, reduce the benefits of Social Security, and kill the Affordable Care Act of 2009.

Will voters embrace this vision of America as Less?

Jim Crawford is retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.