Thursday, October 28, 2010

Michael Bennett v. Ken Buck: Partisan Politics as Ususal

Here in Denver we are watching the nasty senatorial race between Ken Buck and Michael Bennett. The campaign itself illustrates so clearly the problems with our current political machinery and bipartisan politics that it’s hard to not vomit. Both candidates have distorted the truth about the issues and about each other. Frankly, neither is suitable for leadership. There are no viable third party choices so the intelligent voter is faced with deciding between these two partisan ideologues. Neither Buck nor Bennett is a creative thinker or innovator. Both represent politics as usual.

In a race that is to close to call (as the pundits say) it appears that Buck may still have the upper hand even though most polls only currently show him leading by 1 or 2 percentage points. Of the two candidates Bennett is my choice as the lesser of the two evils. However, this is an anti-incumbent election and both the GOP and the Tea Party have done an excellent job distorting President Obama’s record as it stands at his mid-term and have sold moral panic to an outraged group of pseudo-libertarian malcontents.

The Tea Party is an anti-rational, anti-intellectual socio-political phenomenon that has elevated the likes of the doltish Sarah Palin, the racist Carl Paladino and the supercilious Christine O’Donnell when, under normal circumstances, no one would seriously consider these candidates as suitable for leadership. The fact that they have drawn so much attention is an indication that fear and outrage has trumped common sense and rational debate. Well, with November 2 just being days around the corner there is little we can do now, but vote, hope for the best and prepare to deal with the consequences.

The Denver Post did endorse Michael Bennett for the Senate even as they called him out on his distortion of Ken Buck. The Post suggest that Bennett’s temperament and intelligence are best suited to fix a “broken Washington” saying that he is the best possible choice to lead a bi-partisan coalition. However, I wish people would stop talking about Washington being broken. This is hardly to change.

Buck is a hard leaning conservative that favors tired and dangerous ideas such as privatizing social security and a flat national sales tax of 23%. That being said, what Buck’s opponent doesn’t want you to know is that Buck, himself, has admitted that this is not popular in Washington that there exists no political will to move forward with it.

Ken Buck has Tea Party support and continues to deliver their collective anti-Obama, anti-Democratic rhetoric by saying such things as, “When they nationalized health care” and “When the government took over health care.” Another great Tea Party lie is that the new health care legislation provides coverage for illegal immigrants. This is also false. But, an outraged public fearful for their futures and in a strong anti-incumbent mood is hardly likely to question the veracity of information that caters to their worldview.

Any intelligent voter will understand that these statements are patently false regardless of how they feel about the new health care legislation. As a health care reform supporter and believer in a true national health care system I am not overly fond of recent legislation. But, the government has not taken over health care nor has it been nationalized. I wonder if Ken Buck and the Tea Party even know what a nationalized health care system really is? What congress did was pass a comprehensive piece of legislation that attempted to control Medicare fraud, and make it illegal to deny your children coverage for preexisting conditions – thank you Democrats – among other things. Additionally by requiring that everyone who has access to health care insurance and can afford it actually have coverage under the pain of financial penalty they have protected the health insurance industry from adverse selection. Rather pro-business of the Democrats you might concede.

What makes this race so important is that according to Democrat strategists that Obama’s reelection is dependent, to a certain degree, on Bennett wining the race. This seems scary although hard to verify as real. The good news though, is that while the Democrats are expected to lose ground on November 2 the damage doesn’t appear to be as devastating as originally predicted. The electorate has not completely lost their mind. In Colorado that means Bennett could still win this and, while not the best candidate for the job, is the only real candidate for the job in the present situation.

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