You may or may not be aware that Texas’s former Governor of 14 years, Rick Perry, is once again throwing in his lot for a chance to become the 2016 Republican nominee for President of the United States. For a quick reminder of what a complete train-wreck of a candidate he turned out to be four years ago, despite the media early on touting him as someone who was quite formidable, well… there’s video footage of that:
His latest presidential campaign launched June 4 in Dallas, Texas with a speech that did not shy away from the usual right-wing saber-rattling, xenophobia and war-mongering. When it comes to the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Perry denounced Iran as being untrustworthy and referred to the proud nation as “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism”. (In this he is wrong. That dubious distinction belongs to America’s great ally Saudi Arabia.)
When it comes to the greatest human rights tragedy of the 21st century’s first decade, the disastrous and genocidal U.S.-led war against the nation of Iraq, Gov. Perry absurdly proclaimed that “America had won the war.” What went wrong, according to him, is that President Obama “failed to secure the peace.” What a load of rubbish! And it didn’t stop there. He followed up that “logic” by implying that, like in Vietnam 40 years earlier, the Iraq war could have been won had American politicians only been a little more patriotic and supportive of the war effort. Of course, the truth is that neither war was ever “winnable” from the start because they were first and foremost wars of oppression and occupation, meant to subdue an indigenous population against their will and steal their resources. What America faced off against in Vietnam was a national liberation movement determined to free themselves from living under the oppressive yoke of imperialism. In Iraq, after the U.S. dismantled just about every fiber of the state’s institutions, the U.S. military came under attack from various and often-times violent resistance fighters who refused to live under occupation. Neither Vietnam nor Iraq were ever the United States’ to win or to lose.
Perry continued repeating platitudes about “American exceptionalism” and the superiority of so-called “western values” and the necessity of “projecting American strength” to the world. He also delved into business matters, decrying the “over-regulation” of businesses and a burdensome corporate tax rate. “It is time to reduce the rate, bring jobs home and lift wages for working families,” he declared, ignoring the fact that corporate tax rates have been significantly lowered over the past years while the largest corporations have continued to flee in order to avoid paying virtually all taxes. Needless to say the wages for the average working family have remained stagnant while the price of living has gone up. As for Perry’s boasting over Texas’s immense level of jobs growth under his administration, he failed to mention that this was achieved by significantly lowering wages overall.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Rick Perry speech without squarely focusing on the topic of immigration and so-called “border security”. Touting what he refers to as “law and order”, the Texas GOP tea party favorite boasted that he told the President of the United States, “Mr. President, if you won’t secure the border, Texas will.” Never mind that the border is more “secure” than it’s ever actually been before and the fact that Obama has deported more people and broken up more immigrant families than any President before him. In Perry’s fantasy land however, last year’s “crisis at our border”, one in which young Central American children were running to the U.S. border in order to escape war-torn countries, was nothing more than the latest “threat posed by drug cartels and transnational gangs” requiring the deployment of the Texas National Guard. You see, in the United States, a refugee crisis due in no small part to decades of proxy wars and other destructive actions taken by the U.S. itself is not a humanitarian crisis at all; instead it is just another case of so-called “illegal” immigration of Brown people into the world’s preeminent white nation. Never mind that the refugees were in no way “sneaking” across the border illegally. They were literally running to the U.S. Border Agents and were picked up by them. To put it simply, this refugee crisis had nothing to do with “insecure borders” and everything to do with U.S. imperialist meddling in Central America in past generations as well as the present.
In short, Rick Perry likely doesn’t have a chance in hell of rising above the position of Texas Governor. Yet it would be a mistake to assume his campaign, like those of the other candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, won’t have a negative impact on the already toxic, pro-war, anti-immigrant mood that is sweeping the U.S. political scene. In fact, as the Republican Party shifts even further to the right-wing, it has a way of dragging the Democratic Party further to the right along with it.