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The Amphibian versus the Mormon?

Thu 15 Dec 2011 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

In 2012, it is the turn of the United States to go to the polls. But despite the spasmodic US economy, it is highly likely that Barack Obama might win a second term of office. Why is this, and what are the implications for the US LGBT community? Part of the problem is the state of the Republican Opposition. Unlike New Zealand or other mainstream western liberal democracies, the United States doesn't have a caucus-elected leader of the Opposition, which means that the Democrats and Republicans have to go through an arduous series of state primaries to select the eventual Opposition presidential nominee against the incumbent president, if he or she is in her first term of office. Given that there are two term limits on presidencies, the incumbent governing party will then undergo primaries itself to select a replacement for the current incumbent president. Be that as it may, the Republicans have a problem. They can't seem to agree on whom the desirable presidential nominee is, for fear of upsetting the party's shrill, vocal militant fundamentalist constituency. And so, there has been a parade of candidates that have loudly trumpeted their social conservative credentials- Michele Bachmann (Minnesota state Congresswoman), Rick Perry (Republican Texas Governor), Herman Cain (African-American businessman), and now former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich. However, this amphibian has political baggage- namely, ethics and finance scandals that dogged his period as Speaker and led to an anti-Republican backlash at midterm elections in 1998. Since then, he's worked at a right-wing thinktank, the American Enterprise Institute. His fiscal conservative and deregulatory agenda led to the excessively speculative economy that tanked in 2008, which one suspects may make him a liability should he be chosen to run against President Obama later this year. And then there's Mitt Romney, the former Republican Massachuesetts Governor, who will probably end up the presidential candidate unless Gingrich manages an upset and doesn't subside as his immediate predecessors have managed to do. Religious social conservatives don't particularly like him because he's seen as a moderate on issues like civil unions and state healthcare provision, anathema to the Christian Right. Whether or not he is actually that moderate is a moot point. The New Statesman doesn't think so. According to Mehdi Hassan, Romney would double the size of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, is opposed to Muslim presence within his Cabinet, opposes any new taxation to fund government social services and would have let the United States default rather than reach its federal debt ceiling. However, he is also carrying baggage, given his past as a corporate consultant responsible for copious private sector redundancies. He has also been criticised for having a rudimentary actual agenda beyond the usual anti-tax and minimal fiscal regulatory agenda. His politics may best be described as fiscal conservative or libertarian. The question now is, which potential candidate is the least liability? LGBT voters may find Romney less objectionable than Gingrich, but both offer Obama wider targets. One suspects that the incumbent US President may therefore win the lions share of presidential votes later this year. For LGBT voters, he's the safest bet. Ironically, if Romney gets the nod, he may be the target of animosity from religious social conservatives over his lack of religious social conservative ideological purity. If Gingrich does, he is liable to face questions about his nineties period of office and share of responsibility for current US economic turmoil. Recommended: Mehdi Hassan: "Don't be deceived by the myth of Romney" New Statesman: 13.10.2011: "President Newt Gingrich?" New Statesman: 16.11.2011: Craig Young - 15th December 2011    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Thursday, 15th December 2011 - 3:17pm

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