Protempore – Issue 90


Posted by in November's Magazine

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy has finally run out of its climate change-induced breath, and the Atlantic coast of America is beginning the long, hard clean-up of damage which has killed 40 people so far and will cost $30-40 billion dollars to put right. Some commentators are predicting that the storm will have a major effect on the US election which is due to take place on 6th November with thousands of voters either unable or unwilling to go out and cast their vote. It’s not clear which of the two candidates will suffer most if voters stay away from the polls and, given the absolutely neck and neck nature of the race, every single vote is going to count.

The unspeakable scenario – for anyone who has a smidgeon of common sense and a justified hatred of neo-conservative policies – is that the storm will see Willard Mitt Romney (yes, that’s his name) elected as the 45th President of the United States. Willard’s beliefs and polices are, to put it as mildly as I possibly can, barking mad. He doesn’t believe in man-made climate change and wants to drill for oil and gas in the Antarctic and anywhere else that hasn’t been dug up; he’s anti-abortion even in cases of rape and incest; and he’s a Mormon which means he can have as many wives as he wants but is virulently against gay marriage. But what many people don’t know and what is hard to believe, is that he’s actually viewed as something of a ‘softie’ compared to his running mate for the Vice Presidency, Paul Ryan.

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Ryan is 42 years old, relatively young for a vice-presidential candidate, a practising Catholic who was voted ‘prom king’ and ‘biggest brown noser’ by his schoolmates, and likes to catch catfish with his bare hands. Nothing too sinister there but when you begin to dig down in order to find out what really makes this lunatic tick, you uncover a neo-conservative who is so far to the right that he must have tripped over George Dubya Bush and Donald Rumsfeld to get where he is today.

Flatten Iran
Like Willard, Ryan is a climate change denier and believes in coal, gas and nuclear power; he has consistently voted against gay marriage, gay adoption and moves to liberalise abortion laws. He actually stated that rape was “a form of conception” and has co-sponsored legislation that would declare that life begins at conception and would grant foetuses the legal and constitutional rights of people.

hatHe is violently against any form of gun control and voted to erect a barrier along the US border with Mexico. And he agrees with Willard that, if they should happen to gain office, one of the first things they would do is review America’s current foreign policy and put Iran “on notice” in relation to its nuclear programme. What “on notice” means in their minds is that they will flatten Iran regardless of what anyone else advises. Something which the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says would be “good for Arabs”. It’s beginning to sound like a joke: “A Mormon, a Catholic and a Jew walk into the Oval Office. What happens next?”

But I digress. Another particularly nauseating fact about Ryan is that in his current role as chairman of the House Budget Committee in Washington, he is best known for his controversial alternative budget framework, produced to counter President Barack Obama’s budgets in 2011 and 2012. Ryan’s plans would cut $6 trillion dollars (that’s around £3.8 trillion pounds) from the federal budget over a decade by cutting food aid, education spending and health programmes for the poor and elderly. He would also cut taxes for himself and Willard, i.e. the rich.

Ryan has dismissed accusations that this is an unprecedented attack on the poor and most vulnerable members of American society. However, Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House Speaker widely regarded as one of the most right-wing politicians in America, called Ryan’s proposals “nothing more than right-wing social engineering”.

Many people, particularly on this side of the Atlantic, can’t quite believe that the race for the Presidency is so close. How did Obama manage to lose so much momentum after his historic victory in 2008? Well, the level of expectation after that victory was huge and, given the cranky way that American politics work, many of Obama’s policies were successfully blocked by Republican majorities in major votes on things like healthcare reform and equal pay.

As such, people who voted for change haven’t really seen any and although the US economy is slowly picking up, the rate of progress for many Americans just hasn’t been quick enough. Willard and Ryan are finding it easy to lay the blame at Obama’s door when, in reality, it’s the Republicans who are responsible for that change being stifled at every opportunity.

If a couple of climate change deniers do manage to walk into the White House as a result of a hurricane, be prepared for them to unleash a right-wing storm which may well be felt thousands of miles away from America.

Protempore

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