Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Morality Card versus the Race Card

To the inevitable chagrin of readers who lean to the right, it is time to restate the obvious: former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is blurring further the lines between the Democratic and Republican parties.

The only genuine differences between those two parties are their target audiences (in terms of appealing to their respective voter bases) and the occasional controversy du jour.

While I already have examined Santorum’s argument for Right-Wing collective salvation, his campaign stop at the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Louisiana on March 19 and the more notable activities therein have prompted me to take my analysis one step further.

Conservatives and libertarians alike have long lamented the left-wing propensity for playing the Race Card in political discourse – a tactic which especially hit overdrive when President Barack Obama began to emerge as a frontrunner in the Democratic nomination process in 2008.

However, in 2012 Santorum may have perfected a mirror image of this argumentation device and given the American Right Wing its own card to play when the debates and public sentiment aren’t going the way they like: the Morality Card.

Playing the Morality Card at this juncture of the primary and caucus process appears to be the logical next step for Santorum’s campaign. He has tried to portray himself as a fiscal conservative and staunch defender of Christian values. The problem for him is his voting record does not back that up, having cast “Yea” votes for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and various pieces of legislation he knew contained earmarks for Planned Parenthood. That is just the tip of the ice berg.

So, what is a candidate left to do when they cannot run on their record? The answer is find the quickest boogeyman against-which to redirect everyone’s attention. In Santorum’s case, it’s the steady decline in America’s moral compass. It is the perfect way to rally the GOP’s Christian Conservative base – pandering to voters who place much of their focus on issues of morality.

I am a lifelong Christian. I have recently come to understand the importance of Evangelism in spreading and promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have no problem seeing right through Santorum’s rhetoric.

Please tell me I’m not the only Christian who does.

Cheney story illuminates wider ballot access issues

Don's note: if you're not fully familiar with the developments surrounding the would-be independent candidacy of Brian Cheney for Allen County Commissioner, read the initial story at The Lima News and the recent follow-up article.

First and foremost, this press release is not authored with the intent to comment on any of the particulars surrounding the Allen County Board of Elections’ decision to reject Brian Cheney’s candidate petitions for county commissioner, his ties with other local public figures, or even Cheney himself.

The one hidden story in the recent events that warrants greater exploration is the fact Cheney – in order to run as an independent candidate – had to gather almost seven times as many signatures as any of the major party candidates and more than 13 times as many as a minor party candidate.

State election laws require independent candidates for an office to gather signatures equivalent to one percent of the votes cast in the previous election for the given electoral jurisdiction. In the case of Allen County Commissioner in 2012, a prospective independent had to get 330 valid signatures – compared to 50 for someone vying for a major party nomination and 25 for those of us affiliated with a minor party.

It should not be difficult to conclude the wide disparity in requirements is nonsensical.

As a current and past candidate for elected office, have I benefited from such variations? Yes, of course. Do I agree with this setup? That answer is, “Absolutely not.”

The only possible legitimate argument for placing such a high threshold for independent candidates is the fact any registered voter may sign one of their petitions regardless of how the Ohio Secretary of State’s office lists their party affiliation (which is another issue in and of itself regarding violation of voters’ privacy rights – but as usual, I digress) – thus an independent candidate has a potential “unfair” advantage by having any-and-all would-be petition signers available to them.

In truth, it is an underhanded means of deterring anyone who would demonstrate the audacity to engage in the electoral process outside of the party system.

For my personal perspective, it is my hope the situation involving Brian Cheney proves to be nothing more than an honest mistake. It would seem obvious to me the inevitable “mad dash” for signatures – created by the State of Ohio’s disparate candidate requirements – is sure to increase the likelihood of mistakes being made. Also, as evidenced by my body of essays and posts in social media, I simply am not a fan of aggressive prosecution for non-violent offenses.

As all this relates to Ohio election laws, my hope is now that the potential consequences of these provisions have hit close-to-home for someone in leadership in the state’s prevailing majority party (meaning, Allen County Republican Party Chair Keith Cheney), we may finally see some long-overdue reform of those laws that actually fits such a description.