October 2011
E-mail this article

Perry watch: Pledge and consequence

By Katharhynn Heidelberg

Oh, what fun. Regressive Ricky is in the race — and, snark aside, it looks as though the gentleman from Texas might have a fightin’ chance at the White House.

Cringe.

OK. That was the last time for snark, I promise. There are genuine concerns about this candidate’s social agenda, namely, the worry that his agenda trumps reality, reason, and the American way.

In late August, Rick Perry revealed his penchant for signing pledges, when he inked a promise to support a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as limited to man plus woman. The pledge also swears defense of (Bill Clinton’s) Defense of Marriage Act, that he will appoint judges and attorneys general who are like-minded on the subject, and that he will also “appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters” (Associated Press).

I invite my fellow Americans to put aside their personal views on the particular question of gay marriage. I want them to think about how much common sense, let alone leadership ability, a candidate has when he places strictures and conditions on how he will undertake the complicated task of being president — before he even is president — without due regard for the inevitability of conflict between his pledge and his duty. That’s called painting oneself into a corner.

And Perry wasn’t alone. Jumping off the cliff with him were desperate-for-radicalbase votes Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Now think about this pledge specifically:

1. When it comes to citizens, the Constitution is a generally permissive document, not a restrictive one. Meaning, it enshrines individual rights, rather than spelling out which rights the government will deny to people — or in this case, will deny to only a certain type of people. The amendments which have changed this (for example, making it so women could exercise their right to vote) have altered the document to expand individual rights, not reduce them.

Maybe you’re fine with this particular type of people — gays and lesbians — being denied rights you enjoy. But once explicit denial of rights starts creeping into the Constitution, have you considered what might one day become of the rights you cherish? If not, start imagining the unimaginable. And when it does, remember: You helped it happen by not standing up when others were being trampled.

I don’t think I’m going too far when I say we should not support candidates who have proven they will not support all Americans, and by their own declaration, have no intention of representing all Americans, when some of those Americans happen to be gay. Perry, Romney and Bachmann have all signed the dotted line.

2. Republicans like Perry bemoan government intrusion into our lives. And they should — everyone should. But on the same token, perhaps their stances and pledges ought to reflect that. Marriage is a private matter between consenting adults. Why, then, is Perry so gung-ho on regulating it federally? (Rhetorical question, of course. As governor of Texas, he’s already proven a willingness to insert the government between a woman and her doctor.)

3. The calls for appointing judges and attorneys general who favor traditional marriage proves the definition of “activist judge” is indeed one who rules contrary to your own beliefs. Stacking the bench with those explicitly in favor of your causes? Hey, no activism here! Who wants a judge who objectively applies the law, regardless personal beliefs and political pressure? (Answer: Those seeking justice, but never mind.)

4. The worst for last: The investigatory commission. Of the many words to describe this, “creepy” works best.

Shouldn’t Perry and the others first establish that trad-marr groups are being harassed with such great regularity that an investigatory body is needed? (Tax dollars to give the Consumer Protection Bureau the teeth it needs to keep big banks’ robber barons from raping us? Hell, no! Tax dollars to investigate the supposed harassment of ideological groups likely to support and fund Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and the rest? Hell, yeah!)

Further, what is this commission empowered to do if it thinks it finds harassment, and what would constitute “harassment”? The cynic in me suggests harassment would be defined in some way as public criticism of gay-marriage foes; protests, and other activity protected by the Constitution our president is elected to uphold.

The brat in me would suggest that, in cases where there actually is harassment, municipal codes or state criminal laws concerning harassment could be used to address the matter — an argument sure to find traction among social conservatives, who after all argue that we don’t need “special laws” to protect the victims of certain crimes.

It seems this talk of a commission is one of two things:

• It is a meaningless, feel-good pipe dream, a wild and fantastical promise the candidates have neither the intention nor ability to keep, one made to placate their perceived “base.” This is a shameless ploy typical in politics, but it is not leadership.

• It’s framework for a witch hunt.

Mr. Perry is teetering on a precipice, one he is either too dumb to see, or too arrogant to care about. He expects you to march lockstep with him, shouting “Lemmings for Perry!” all the way down, just because he panders well.

Let him fall alone.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is a journalist in Montrose, Colo.


E-mail this article