Think about how surreal politics in this country has become since the Presidential election. While Obama won office largely on health care reform, apparently Republicans took control of Congress and may recapture the White House based on -- repealing Obamacare? If the idea was so repulsive to most voters, why didn't McCain and Palin make fighting it the centerpiece of their campaign?
Speaking of health care, it's not just Mitt Romneycare who is backpedaling about his track record; it turns out fellow candidates Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah and Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota also considered mandating that uninsured folks in their respective states buy coverage.
Speaking of Pawlenty, while he's justifiably attacking Michele Bachmann's do-nothing track record as a Minnesota Congresswoman, he'll need a spin doctor to explain his do-badly track record when he ran the state for eight years. According to the New York Times, the current shutdown in the state was essentially his doing. In addition to delaying money owed to schools, Pawlenty reportedly balanced Minnesota's books by using money from a tobacco industry settlement meant for health care and $2.3 billion from the federal stimulus.
And while people are perfectly free to choose their religion, the Mormon faith associated with Romney and Huntsman, who are distant cousins (hmm), is downright strange. According to Business Insider, Mormons wear special undergarments resembling grownup diapers to "give protection against temptation and evil" and believe that when Jesus comes back to life he's going to live in Missouri.
As for Bachmann, the front-runner in Iowa, where do I start? She signed a pledge against same-sex marriage that also states that black families were stronger under slavery (she's since backed off on it), she wants to eliminate the minimum wage in order to create jobs, and claims that scientists support intelligent design. Even if there were enough wingnuts to elect her to the White House, she'd probably have to resign in the event of her husband's death since he tells her what to think because a wife must be a "submissive helper" to her "godly husband." Her godly husband, among other things, offers mental health counseling that cures gays of their gayness despite not being certified in his state and collects Medicaid money despite his wife's loathing of federal spending.
And then we've got philandering Newt Gingrich -- whose religion apparently doesn't require him to wear special underwear -- whose Contract With America during his failed tenure as Speaker of the House was defined as throwing people off welfare.
What's surreal about America's descent into the loony bin is that it wasn't so long ago -- when I was growing in the 1950s and 1960s -- when Republican politicians were actually likeable. Senator Jacob Javits of New York was the brains behind the well-intentioned but flawed Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Nelson Rockefeller outlawed job discrimination while governor of New York, William Scranton brought community colleges to Pennsylvania when he was governor and George Romney, father of Mitt, expanded government and supported civil rights while governor of Michigan. Even more recently before John McCain decided that illegal immigrants are setting fire to Arizona, he authored bipartisan campaign reform legislation and proposed a tax on cigarettes whose revenues would be used to educate people about the perils of smoking.
And while the wacky candidates may not matter because sensible voters are reaching for their wallets and plan to return to the voting booths -- according to Businessweek Obama's campaign has raised more than $86 million compared to front-runner Romney's $18 million -- the Republican coup of Congress will ensure that Obama will continue to be stymied.
We can't afford a dysfunctional Capitol Hill because we face the biggest challenges since our forefathers routed the Red Coats (and defeated slavery ☺). The most important shortfall we need to address is our personal deficits, driven by increased debt and shrinking benefits. We're saddled with an overpriced education system at a point in history when a college degree is vital for a high-paying job; student loan debt is likely to top a trillion dollars. We don't just have a health care coverage crisis, the cost of health care is going through the roof. And I don't have to remind you about the looming 401(k) retirement shortfall.
My now-deceased parents immigrated here from Canada to seek better opportunities and my Mom would cry every time she heard The Star Spangled Banner. I'm glad she's not here to witness a potential loony tune takeover of our promised land.