Dec 25, 2009

Will the Wolf Survive?

One of the fine things about the internet is, that one can have information about issues in a far away part of the world that would otherwise, if ever, only be available by extensive travel or studies in archives after the event. But, with the use of the internet, one can have an impression of what is going on in, say the Rocky Mountains, whilst sitting at home in a village located at the northeast end of the so called Lower Austrian – Styrian alps.
The upcoming governmental elections in Idaho caught my interest, because of some of the would-be candidates' profile. It is clear, they are inhabitants of a mountainous region, so most of the images on the “home”-section of their respective homepages show them before the background of a huge mountain. If not depicted on horse-back, at least, it is confirmed (of most) of the men, that they went fishing and hunting from their very childhood days. As this is USA, and neither California nor East-coast, the religious affiliation of the candidates plays some role, to be modest. Interestingly, three of the candidates for being a candidate have some relationship to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS, or “Mormons”).
The one who will surely not win the campaign, has already left the church to which he has converted before. LDS members have not been strict enough in certain issues to meet his standards, as it seems. Independent candidate Marvin “Pro Life” Richardson runs an organic strawberry farm. His web-page clearly shows, that nobody donates for his campaign and that he can’t make a living on growing strawberries. This is why he has to rely on social security for supplying his family, which does not hinder him to be an outspoken opponent to social security. A pro-life activist, he changed his name to “Pro-Life” during the 2006 electoral campaign, as he had not been granted to be listed as Marvin “Pro Life” on the ballot. As “Pro-Life” was not printed on the ballot (being a program and not a name in the eyes of the government) and the Constitutional Party for which he believed to be a candidate denied him that status, there was a blank line on the ballot: no name, no party. In an article in the capital’s newspaper he is quoted with a very realistic opinion about his chances in the next run: "If I win, I'll ask for a recount.“
There is yet another truly independent candidate, a nice lady, Jana Kemp, but I guess, lacking any background in fishing, hunting, cowboy-ness and not living on a ranch (at least nothing about that on her home-page), even the photograph of her waving the American flag with the indispensable mountain in the background won’t help. She has a kind of “American legacy”–approach, that differs strongly from the other (serious) candidates with their “Idaho-ness”. Born a Pennsylvanian and having moved around the USA, she has nothing to offer to Idaho than “Philadelphia” being the “City of Brotherly Love” and having lived in Minnesota, “home of Paul Bunyan” (see Fargo by the Coen brothers for that). How will she be able to step in against the ruling governor, C. L. “Butch” Otter, living on a ranch with his wife and three children, and, a member of both “the Roman Catholic Church” and “the National Rifle Association”, as his homepage informs us (RCC being the biggest single church in the state, although outweighed by Protestants as a whole – but they are that divided into denominations…). Amongst other highlights in his biography, he has also been, quite unbeatable, “elected to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Board of Directors in Oklahoma City".
Idaho being Republican, what or whom would he have to fear? Jana Kemp, whose supporters attest her to be “a fresh voice for Idaho politics […] genuine, informed, responsible, and caring“ and able to do away with „the ‘good ol’ boy’ network of Idaho politics“? The question is, whether this will be changed from without or from within, by the other Republicans opting in. There is Ron “Pete” Preston, obviously a clown with no real ambition at all, and Sharon Ullman, a woman whose profile is to oppose the (if we believe her homepage) somewhat “patriarchal” style of “Old Boy Butch” and the promise to lower taxes.
But how to do that? If you want to decrease taxes, you will first have to decrease governmental expenditures. And here, the real Slim Shady steps into view. Rex Rammell, the man to push Idaho and the country further, by going back to the real foundation of this great nation. Religion. He has the promise “I will lower your taxes” written on his homepage and his “favorite quote about America" by Tocqueville, saying (more or less) that religious righteousness is the backbone of the nation. There is more than an echo of that quotation in his “Ten Principles”, that start with "America was established by God for a righteous people. If America turns away from God she will fail" and "The Constitution was inspired by God. The original principles set forth within its body are true and when strictly adhered to will keep us free." The further principles display a common “liberal” understanding of the order of state and federation: community should provide for what individuals can’t do, state for community and federation for state. This can be reduced to securing free trade, as we learn in principle 8: “Capitalism advocates the principles of competition and choice in a free market setting and if allowed to operate without government interference is a proven formula for prosperity“.
Here we have it, prosperity gospel in a nutshell: God will regulate the market due to the worthiness of the competitors. Dr. Rammell (a veterinarian) is also straight to the point in explaining how these principles will work in federal and state policy (hopefully he will never make it to federal politics, so I can stick to his visions of how to run the state): Cut taxes – how? Principally, a sympathetic suggestion: cut the size of the government. But how to do that? The simple (in all senses, including naivité) answer is, to reduce the responsibilities of the government: no welfare program required, we just “shift the responsibility from government to families, churches, and charitable organizations“. Health insurance?: „must move towards private Health Savings Accounts in order to lower premiums and shift responsibility to individuals and doctors“ (he really believes in the God of the unregulated market). Education? To put it simply: „Eliminate the Federal education program“. Parents are responsible for education, in Rex Rammell’s view. All that done, we will have to make Idaho a safe and homely place again, thus Nr. 6 of his proposals: „Deport all illegal immigrants“, and, to be sure that no taxes are wasted, the ones who wish to stay, should „do so through a state guest worker program. However, they must pay for their own health insurance, pay to use our public school system, and stay out of our welfare lines“.
Is there a right to enslave people in God’s own country? Did he not read his bible well? Leviticus 19, 33-34 says (New International Version): "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not ill-treat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." After having claimed, that English should be the "official language" of Idaho (I opt for Shoshone, just to remind Mr. Rammell of his status as the offspring of immigrants), he goes on to demand that nuclear power plants are being built: "Idaho can be America’s leader in nuclear power, creating new jobs and providing cheap clean energy for Idaho and the surrounding states". Nevertheless, he has not finished his immigrant issue. I have wondered about the percentage of Spanish-speaking immigrants to Idaho, as it is not located at the "Crystal Frontier" , but at the Canadian. Dr. Rammell, who owns an elk-farm, this time in due accordance with biblical metaphors (although I think, he does not even understand what a metaphor is, not to speak about reading biblical texts as allegories or metaphors), points to the true enemy of the righteous Idahoan capitalist: The Canadian Wolf, in declaring: "Remove all Canadian wolves from Idaho. The wolves continue to slaughter Idaho’s big game herds, kill and maim livestock and pets, and are dangerous to Idahoans. If Idaho's mountains are to be safe for people and if our big game herds are to be the envy of the world, the wolves can not stay." With the right amount of nuclear power plants, the wolves will leave anyway.
To close this really long post, I want to add, that Dr. Rammell is not representative of LDS church members’ political views. Proof: There is another Mormon opting for candidature (with the sympathetic name "Allred"), not as a Republican, but as a Democrat, and as someone who has a background in a non-partisan organisation that cares about the future of Idaho beyond ‘good ol’ boy’ networking. Here is his hp; (ranch, fishing, hunting, mountains, bunch of kids and happy wife included). The many resemblances to Austrian politics (although God is not mentioned that often in our lovely country) , I do not want to point to for the sake of brevity. Those who have eyes to see, will see.

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