By Ryan James Girdusky, US Daily Review Contributor
Recently, three issues have ignited grassroots conservative activism: immigration, debt, and health care. A candidate must have a solid conservative foundation in these areas to gain broad tea party and grassroots support. The current GOP frontrunner Rick Perry is campaigning as if he meets these requirements, and is branding himself as the one man capable of uniting the establishment and the tea party. Unfortunately, this image is theater of the absurd when assessed realistically.
The campaign director for Al Gore’s 1988 Presidential campaign, Perry, like most southerners at the time, was a lifelong Democrat. Texas, which had been a Democrat stronghold, especially on the local level since the Civil War, started turning red – and Rick Perry went with it. In 1989, at the very transitional age of 39, Rick Perry became a Republican. Despite joining the party of Reagan, Goldwater, and Coolidge, Perry was anything but conservative.
The most significant issue the right has with Obama is health care plan. It led to millions protesting further invasion of government into our lives. Yet in 1993, Perry supported HillaryCare, the failed precursor to ObamaCare. Perry wrote to Hillary Clinton, “I think your efforts in trying to reform the nation’s health care system are most commendable.” In his sweeping love letter to the first lady, he asked that she not forget the rural people who are underserved.
Additionally, America’s “secession governor” spoke optimistically about a “bi-national health insurance” program that would cover both U.S. and Mexican residents along the border. In the same speech in south Texas, Perry also supported a bill to increase funding for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In 2007, Perry signed his own health care mandate of sorts, an executive order that forced 6th grade girls to receive the HPV vaccine. Perry’s former chief of staff Mike Toomey was a lobbyist for Merck, the manufacturer of the drug. Merck’s PAC pitched in $6,000 to Perry’s re-election campaign in 2007. Perry later called the mandate, “a mistake”. Perry must have been for greater state control in health care before he was against it.
Perry has also taken other positions antithetical to conservatives. As anyone following current events knows, “Taxed Enough Already” was the rallying cry that launched a thousand protests. However, under Perry’s watch, the state budget has increased by nearly 84%, from $49 billion in 2001 when Perry was elected, to $90 billion today. This is despite a Republican controlled legislature for all but two years of Perry’s tenure. During that same period, Texas’ outstanding debt went from $13.7 billion to $34.08 billion at the end of the 2009 fiscal year.
Additionally, while in the legislature as a Democrat, Perry voted for the highest tax increase in Texas history, even when adjusted for inflation. The law raised the sales tax to 6 percent, increased corporate tax rates, pushed up the cigarette tax by more than a nickel per pack and, slapped a 7 percent tax on insurance premiums.
In 2006, when grassroots activism killed the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, Perry was solid supporter of amnesty. In fact, Perry even opposes Arizona’s SB 1070 and E-Verify laws. On the issue of E-Verify, Perry said it would not make a “hill of beans’ difference.” And in 2001, Perry signed into law the Texas Dream Act, which gave in state tuition to illegal aliens. In a 2007 speech in Mexico, Rick Perry said he supported the “free flow of individuals between these two countries who want to work and want to be an asset to our country and to Mexico.”
Despite all of this, during his re-election bid for a third term as governor of Texas in 2010, Perry decided to re-brand himself. He faced Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Debra Medina in his primary, with Hutchinson running to the left of Perry and Medina to the right. Given the political circumstances, Perry saw a golden opportunity to strike a chord with the tea party. To do so, the veteran politician made claims that Hutchinson was part of the Washington machine, while he had stayed in Texas. Just in case he hadn’t made the case that he was first and foremost a Texan, he argued that Texas may have to look into seceding from the union. He handily won re-election.
Running as the chosen son to unite conservative factions in the image of Reagan, Perry is doing his best impersonation of a president. He has the southern charm of LBJ and the smooth diction of George W. Bush. This is like a city with northern hospitality and southern efficiency. All in all however, Rick Perry’s tea party ‘credentials’ are baseless; the governor is a politician who has spent a lifetime riding the wind currents.
Unable to run on his liberal record, consultants have managed to create image of Perry as a ‘pick yourself up by the bootstraps’ cowboy. We’ve seen this movie before; a Republican creates a certain image, wins the presidency, and legitimizes a liberal agenda. What good is it if Republicans win and conservatives lose? A Rick Perry Presidency would just be another sequel in a very bad franchise.
Ryan James Girdusky writes from New York City. He has been published in the Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Caller, The American Thinker, and World Net Daily. He is a contributor on the radio show “Living Truth with Gina Loudon.”