This article was originally published on Out Bristol Issue 12
I am struggling to think of a politician who ideologically sits further away from my political view point than Rick Perry. Perry has recently entered the race to become the Republican Presidential Candidate. I focus specifically on Perry, opposed to any other candidate as he is riding a wave of support that has tipped him to win the chance to go head to head with Obama in 2012 and possibly become the next President of the United States of America. Perry is a man who not only holds deeply unpleasant political views but someone who justifies them through a contradictory ideology.
Perry is vehemently anti state intervention. He has developed into perhaps the ultimate neo-liberal (in the classical British sense of the word opposed to the American understanding of a [lefty] ‘liberal’). Yet, if we look at some of his key policy areas we can see a Grand Canyon size contradiction. In his 10 years as Governor of Texas he consistently slashed state funding, supported the use of the death penalty, and strongly opposed civil partnerships for same sex couples.
In one light Perry backs the American dream. Your chance to succeed, whoever you are, and the state’s responsibility is simply not to get in your way. He notoriously described a bill to ban texting whilst driving as, “a government effort to micromanage the behaviour of adults”. This ideological drive to avoid state intervention resulted in the state budget in Texas to tumble during his oversight. Yet on the flip side of this apparent obsession with avoiding state intervention he appears to back the State when it takes away someone’s life, stops two people from marrying or denies a child’s access to sufficient sex education. For me, that’s a pretty big infringement of someone’s rights by the State.
The American dreams rests on the concept of a meritocracy – the idea that if you have talent and you work hard you will succeed. As soon you mix a potent dash of discrimination into this formula you end up with entire sections of the population being hampered, either by the state or through individual prejudice. Perry appears to actively support the state in discriminating and is oblivious to the reality of individuals holding discriminatory views.
This level of tacit homophobia is not surprising, in 2010 Rick Perry’s fellow Texas Republicans voted on a party platform about LGBT Americans, saying: “We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases…Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable, alternative lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples.”
Across the pond they are laying the foundations for how the most powerful country in the world is going to be governed for the next 4 years. Be under no illusion that if Perry is at the helm, the fight for LGBT rights, equality and diversity will face an uphill struggle.