Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, May 22, 2010

Left Turn / Right Turn


 Mountain Views News Saturday, May 22, 2010

GREG Welborn

The Voter’s Message

   First, the news.   Former 
New York Governor George 
Pataki brought his movement to 
overturn “Obamacare” to Orange 
County last week.   He was joined 
at a rally in Fountain Valley by Orange County 
Republican Chair Scott Baugh and Assemblyman 
Van Tran.   According to the Orange County 
Register, 30 people showed up.   (No, I didn’t leave 
off any zeros.)


 And now the election returns.   A number of 
interesting races took place around the country, 
and some of us (since the Lakers were idle) were 
actually paying attention.   If there’s a trend, 
it’s that two sides are becoming more clearly 
defined, and one side is clearly winning.   It’s not a 
matter of Democrat vs. Republican, or liberal vs. 
conservative.   Rather, it’s a contest between those 
perceived as being members of the Washington 
establishment, and those who aren’t.   To the 
extent partisanship plays a role, those who stay 
true to their party’s ideals, whether Democrat 
or Republican, are winning over those whose 
allegiance is to the lobbyists and party honchos 
who call the shots.


 Sen. Arlen Specter (D, R, whatever - PA) is best 
remembered for his grilling of Anita Hill during 
the 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme 
Court Justice Clarence Thomas - employing the 
strategy that the best defense against charges of 
sexual harassment is to smear the accuser.   He 
wasn’t as eager to defend his support of President 
Obama’s stimulus package among Republican 
voters (which could’ve been done with two 
words; “it worked”), so he switched parties. 
There was no equivocation in his opponent, Rep. 
Joe Sestak - retired Navy Vice Admiral - who 
boasts a strong environmental record, supports 
reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban 
and has been a consistent supporter of healthcare 
reform.   He described his support for accessible 
healthcare for all Americans as “payback” for the 
quality care he and his family received during his 
long career in the Navy.   Regardless of the issues, 
and despite endorsements from Obama and 
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, it was Specter’s 
using party affiliation as a political tool that sunk 
his candidacy.


 In Kentucky, a Senate candidate supports 
medical marijuana, opposed the invasion of Iraq 
and troop surge in Afghanistan, blames U.S. 
involvement overseas for 9/11, and argues the 
Patriot Act infringes on individual rights.   That’s 
Rand Paul, Tea Party winner of the Republican 
primary.   Paul also supports congressional term 
limits and slashing everything and everywhere 
in the federal government - with the exception 
of Medicare payments, because that might “hurt 
doctors”.   (Dr. Rand Paul is an ophthalmologist.) 
But it appears his victory was not so much a 
referendum on issues as it was on the fact his 
opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey 
Grayson, was the anointed candidate of the 
Republican establishment.   Kentucky’s junior 
Senator Jim Bunning was coaxed into retirement 
by senior Senator and Republican leader, Mitch 
McConnell.   He gave the nod to Grayson, and 
brought in the support of Republican bigwigs 
like Dick Cheney, Rudy Giuliani and the U.S. 
Chamber of Commerce.   It was this perception 
of pre-ordained succession that riled Republican 
primary voters.   It’s also made Democrats 
optimistic they’ll be able to take the seat in 
November with their candidate, state Attorney 
General Jack Conway.   (Both Conway and his 
opponent in the Democratic primary garnered 
more votes than Rand Paul.)


 Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln won her 
Democratic primary, but didn’t.   She got more 
votes than Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, but not the majority 
needed to avoid a runoff.   This was a race focused 
not on party affiliation, but on principals.   Sen. 
Lincoln could not run from her record, despite the 
support of President Obama and noted Arkansan 
Bill Clinton, as well as a strategically-timed push 
for derivatives regulation in the current financial 
reform bill - withdrawn as soon as its “standing 
up to big banks” campaign purpose had been 
fulfilled.   Arkansans remember how she stood up 
for corporate cotton growers when threatening 
to filibuster a proposed $250,000 cap on farm 
subsidies, how she stood up for health insurance 
conglomerates when threatening to filibuster 
any “public option”, and how she stood up for 
employers against workers’ rights in opposing the 
Employee Free Choice Act.


 Sen. Lincoln complained about “liberal interest 
groups” from outside the state becoming involved 
in the election, but in the end it was Arkansas 
voters who made the choice.   They apparently 
agreed with Bill Halter’s message that agriculture 
subsidies should go to help family farms, not 
corporate agribusiness; that educational loans 
should go directly to students and not channeled 
through banks so they can grab a hefty profit 
percentage, as in the current system supported 
by Sen. Lincoln; and a healthcare policy focused 
on the health of the people, not the health of 
HMOs and insurance companies from whom, 
according to Halter, Sen. Lincoln has received 
some $800,000 in support.


 Jane Hamsher, co-founder of Accountability 
Now, a PAC dedicated to the proposition that 
Democrats should act like Democrats, put it 
this way:   “It’s not so much an anti-incumbent 
sentiment as it is anti-Senate.   People are tired of 
their arrogance, their sense of personal privilege, 
the way they completely dismiss the House and 
demand they swallow whatever Joe Lieberman 
wants . . . People aren’t stupid. They understand 
what’s happening.   Yesterday the House of Lords 
got a giant kick in the teeth from a public hungry 
for accountability. Contrary to the wisdom of the 
punditocracy, the country isn’t moving to the 
right.   It’s the corporatists who are going down.”


 The results of this election will provide an 
interesting backdrop for the few weeks leading 
up to the next round of primaries in June.   Voters 
won’t be beholden to the wishes of leaders in 
either party, and will demand the same of the 
representatives they send to Washington.   In the 
meantime, should anyone wish to meet up-close a 
former New York governor or county Republican 
chairman, there might be another rally scheduled 
somewhere - and I’m sure there won’t be any 
troublesome crowds to deal with.   


As I See It

The two key elections held this week sent an 
undisputable message to our political leaders, even 
as those same political leaders are disputing that 
any conclusions can be drawn. As we all know by 
now, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s 
congressional seat lost, as did the GOP hand-
picked Kentucky Senate primary candidate. In 
their places, the voters said that Democrat Mark 
Critz could take the congressional seat and that 
Tea Party candidate Rand Paul would represent 
the GOP in the November Senate race. That 
may look like a confusing state of affairs, but 
the message that ALL the winning candidates 
delivered to Washington D.C., and the current 
administration in particular, was remarkably 
consistent: get out of our lives, get out of our 
pocket books and get out of our doctor’s office.

 Looking at the Kentucky Senate primary first, 
Rand Paul handily defeated the candidate put 
forward by the Republican establishment. Exit 
polls showed that the voters listened carefully 
to a polished politician who said all the right 
things about reducing spending, taxes and the 
size of government, but who really relied more 
on his primo resume as a Republican insider 
who deserved the seat. Instead, Kentucky voters 
listened and elevated a political neophyte – an 
ophthalmologist – who had simply had enough 
of all that spending, taxing and meddling and got 
involved. His message was essentially the same, 
but much more believable. Think what you 
will about a first term Senator’s ability to really 
do anything in D.C. (especially if he’s held no 
previous political office), but you have to admit 
that he believed what he was saying and will go 
down fighting. Rand Paul is as close as you get to 
being a Libertarian while still being a Republican, 
he’s a dedicated Tea party activist and will no 
doubt carry this message to Washington.

 If ever there was a race where an establishment 
Republican should have won without much 
of a fight and thus signaled that the traditional 
method of raising up political leaders was 
alive and well, this was that race. The retiring 
Republican Senator, Jim Bunning, had served well 
and represented a conservative state admirably 
along those lines. The GOP establishment tried 
to put forward their candidate, Trey Grayson, 
who is the state’s Secretary of State, which should 
have been an easy win for him. But a funny thing 
happened on the way. Some of the GOP stalwarts 
– these are the smart ones who “get it” – didn’t 
support Trey Grayson. The retiring GOP senator 
himself, the State Senate President and a former 
campaign manager for former President Bush 
all said no. They threw their support behind the 
youthful, idealistic and inexperienced Rand Paul. 
They realized that the voters were tired of politics 
as usual, tired of out-of-control spending, and 
wanted someone who had a take-no-prisoners 
style. Yes, the GOP was handed a defeat, but it 
was the GOP that had gone along with President 
Bush’s excessive spending, the same GOP that 
didn’t stand strongly enough against the whole 
TARP disaster and bank bailout. That GOP is 
just a paler complexion of the Democratic Party. 
To the politicians of either party who don’t get 
it, the message was clear – your services will no 
longer be needed, and don’t let the door hit your 
you-know-what on the way out.

 This is the same message that voters in 
Pennsylvania delivered when they elected a 
Democrat to fill John Murtha’s congressional 
seat. This may be the toughest part of the lesson 
for career politicians. D.C. politicians may 
understand what happened in Kentucky, but if 
they view Pennsylvania’s results as a counter-
argument, then they are in trouble and deserve to 
be so. The Republicans in Pennsylvania tried to 
run on a platform of “just say no to Nancy Pelosi 
and President Obama”. They tried to nationalize 
this election and leave it at that. They got some 
traction from the fact that the Democrat, Mr. 
Mark Critz, was an aide to the ¨über-liberal 
Congressman Murtha, but ultimately their 
attempts to paint Mr. Critz to be the same as 
Mr. Murtha weren’t successful, 
because these two guys aren’t 
the same.

 The Republican candidate said 
he was against the healthcare 
bill, against cap and trade and against runaway 
spending. Unfortunately, the Democrat said 
he was against those things, too. Despite being 
Murtha’s aide, the Democrat said he wouldn’t 
have voted for them. He also said that he was 
pro-life and pro-gun. He also, like the Kentucky 
ophthalmologist who won, came across as 
credible and honest in his campaign promises. 
The proof will be in the pudding, as they say, but 
the voters clearly said the have had enough of 
high spending, high taxation and heavy-handed 
interventions in the economy. The Republican 
candidate lacked much of that credibility because 
he has supported raising taxes in the past. 


 In addition to the commonality of the central 
themes in these three candidates, we find 
additional support in the fact that President 
Obama’s endorsement in two other elections 
that same day spelled disaster for the candidates 
he supported. You’d think after campaigning in 
Virginia (and losing), campaigning in New Jersey 
(and losing) and campaigning in Massachusetts 
(and losing), that Democrats would be reluctant 
to ask President Obama to come out and express 
how fond he is of them. Somehow, Senator 
Arlen Specter and Senator Blanche Lincoln, both 
Democrats, didn’t understand that they could 
decline drinking the Cool-Aid. Instead, they 
had the President make several appearances for 
them in each of their states, and they suffered for 
their foolishness. Specter is out and Lincoln was 
forced into a run-off.

 So here’s the short version of the message that 
our political leaders should understand. When 
an inexperienced Tea Party activist can defeat an 
establishment Republican in a conservative state, 
when the only winning Democrat is pro-life, pro-
gun, pro-fiscal restraint, and when the President’s 
appearances for the other Democratic candidates 
all but kills their political future, you better figure 
out that Americans are sick and tired of excessive 
spending, excessive taxation and excessive 
interference in their lives. 

I can’t tell you which party will win more seats 
in the House and the Senate in the November 
elections, and I won’t even try. In fact, I’m not sure 
I care. I can tell you what message is going to win 
– and win big – in November. We’ve had enough. 
We want you to stop spending our children’s and 
grandchildren’s inheritances. We want you to let 
us conduct our lives the way we see fit and we 
want you to let us keep the money we work hard 
to earn. We’re the ones who actually produce 
wealth in this country. We’re the ones who make 
America work. We’re the entrepreneurs who take 
a risk, create a company and create employment, 
and we’re the hard-working blue collar stiffs who 
hold down two jobs to give our kids a better life. 
Politicians don’t do any of this stuff. They don’t 
know how to create anything. Politicians do 
know how to take what the rest of us earn and 
spend it the way they see fit, and we tolerate them 
to a certain level because it is a necessary evil. 
We do need policemen, fireman and soldiers. 
But beyond a certain level – and we passed that 
level a long, long, long time ago – we’re going to 
take back our money, our lives and our country. 
You can come along for the ride and get with the 
program, or you can get out of the way. Elections 
are one of those great quadrennial events in 
which we get to decide who’s really listening to 
us and who has to be turned out to pasture. We 
hope you get the message!

About the author: Gregory J. Welborn is a 
freelance writer and has spoken to several civic 
and religious organizations on cultural and 
moral issues. He lives in the Los Angeles area 
with his wife and 3 children and is active in the 
community. He can be reached at gregwelborn@


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