Exposing GOP Hypocrisy, Again

Hypocrisy among the GOP is the topic today.  I found the MoveOn ad flap in the New York Times to be just a big pile of rubbish.  MoveOn was right!  The GOP members of Congress went wild eyed in their theatrical response to the ad.  The chest thumpers on FAUX News did all but draw blood as they foamed at the mouths.

But I think the following puts it all into perspective.

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Gay U.S. Senator Votes Against Hate Crimes Legislation

I argue that there is one thing more than any other that the public despises when it comes to politics.  And that is hypocrisy.  Today on the Senate floor a big dose of hypocrisy was served up for all to see, and it was not pretty.

Gay United States Senator Craig, Republican from Idaho, who came out to the nation while looking for sex in a men’s room, voted today against the hate crimes legislation that was attached to the defense reauthorization bill.  This amendment was needed for many years, but never found the votes required for passage.  Until now.

On a 60-39 vote the amendment offered by Senator Kennedy is now soon going to President Bush, who of course, finds no need for the change in federal law.  In fact the White House has put out the usual bluster about vetoing the measure.  Since it is attached to the defense bill it will be fun to watch conservatives squirm.  On May 3rd, the House of Representatives passed a companion bill, with strong bipartisan support, 237 to 180.

The need for the federal law is that the existing hate-crime law applies only to attacks on people motivated by race, religion, color or national origin, but not sexual orientation.  Even Republicans saw the need for the measure and voted for passage.  Today Warner, Snowe, Collins, Lugar, Voinovich, Spector, Coleman, Gregg, and Gordon Smith all voted in favor.

But the latest member of Congress to be publicly outed recently must have felt quite horrible inside to vote against such a common sense measure.  Senator Craig must know by now that living his double life not only looks foolish, but also is not healthy.  Healthy minded folks do not seek sex in restrooms.  Thankfully his GOP colleagues voted for him just in case in the future anyone beats up the gay Senator for his lifestyle.  Too bad he couldn’t care enough about other gay people across the nation to do the same.

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Money In Political Campaigns Ruin Process

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On October 31, 1992 nearly my entire family were among the first faces that President Bush saw directly in front of him in Plover, Wisconsin as his Truman-like campaign train rumbled into that small community. We had arrived early, stood for many hours in the biting cold and light snow flakes, to watch a piece of American political history play out.  When the train whistles blew loud from off in the distance, and the huge engine and cars finally came into view, the political drama that I had so wanted to see, and was so pleased that my family could witness, made the waiting all worth it.

We paid no fee to get in the gate, and my readers well know I had no Republican credentials to get such close access.  My family may have voted for the GOP over the years, but no checks were ever written for any campaign.  We were just Americans interested in the election.  Needless to say it was an event that produced wonderful memories.

Sadly not every citizen that wants to be a part of the political process in this way can do so. It is increasingly difficult for average people to hear and meet candidates running for the White House.  As a political junkie I had hoped to see President Bush in 2004 in northeastern Wisconsin.  But trying to get a ticket without being a contributor, or agreeing to make political calls after the event, made it impossible to witness his campaign stop.  When Democratic candidate Barack Obama visits Madison next week the rally (and the ability to hear his message) will be only for those who pay the ticket fee for the event. 

The entire political process today is driven by factors other than truly getting the candidate and the voter together.  What the campaigns desire is for a huge fundraiser effort to make every stop ‘worthwhile’ so that more TV ads can be bought, and more brochures printed.  While I very well understand the need for cash to be raised for elections, I think it is also worth recalling that not so long ago the candidates actually just came to town and talked.

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In 1988 Vice-President Bush visited Madison and there I was in the front as one who wanted to see the process up close.  No ticket, no fee.  Just unfettered access to a candidate who wanted to be my President.  What an old fashioned idea.    I know that Bush had fundraiser events scheduled during his time here, but he also had time for a truly public event.  Say what you will about him, but I will never forget that part of his campaign.  (BTW, he had a firm handshake, but I recall he also had very soft skin for a guy.)

I have problems with the huge amounts of cash it takes to run for President, or most offices in this nation.  I know that we can never go back to the days when campaigns were less costly.  But I think it important to consider how far we have come down the road from those days, and ask what has all that campaign cash gotten our country.

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