Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Unlikely Run Of Katrina Pierson

Earlier today when I read the headlines of Dave Swerdlick's article on The Root.com about candidate Katrina Peirson (pictured left) challenging incumbent Republican Pete Sessions to become the first African-American Republican woman elected to Congress as a member of the Tea Party, for a second I thought my browser had taken me to the Onion.com by mistake.

How, I wondered, could a black woman from Texas run for Congress as a Tea Party candidate?

Didn't she read Janet Reitman's national affairs piece in the January 30th issue of Rolling Stone entitled: "The Stealth War On Abortion" that chronicles the Republican, Tea Party and Christian Right's efforts to pass hundreds of restrictive anti-abortion laws? As the RS article noted, "...the Texas legislature cut the funding to family-planning clinics by two-thirds, eliminating access to low-price contraception and other health services like breast exams and cancer screenings for more than 155,000 women."

Did Pierson miss Wendy Davis' 11-hour filibuster on the floor of the Texas statehouse last June opposing a 20-page piece of anti-abortion legislation tucked into a massive omnibus bill?

Given such a misogynist legislative track record in Texas the words "African-American Republican woman from Texas" stuck me as an oxymoron. 

The arrival of the Tea Party on the American political scene in 2009 represented a significant shift in the traditional Republican brand; one that has in some ways demonized the word 'conservative' in the eyes of many in this nation.

The Tea Party was ostensibly founded as a grass roots movement comprised of a cross section of Republicans, Libertarians, frustrated Democrats and centrist progressives opposed to an intrusive Federal government choked by unnecessary red tape and burdensome laws that taxes too much of American's money and "stifles freedom".  

But there's no question that many branches of the Tea Party quickly became clearing houses for people who were motivated by their opposition to the election of a black president.

Stoked by the undisguised outspoken bigotry and intolerance of controversial members of the right wing media like Rush Limbaugh, Dinesh D'Sousza, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin, what was once a platform for Americans frustrated by a shifting demographic landscape has now morphed into a bloc of enraged voters more vocal about the things they oppose than any real coherent platform they stand for.

Now they stand behind the irrational racist-fueled hysteria of people like NRA board member Ted Nugent who used the word "mongrel" to describe the President's mixed race background and despises the leader of the free world with a vicious seething hatred that is toxic and has nothing to do with policy.

What does it say about Republicans who profess an admiration for Nugent? An admitted pedophile with a lust for young girls who called Texas governor Rick Perry (a corrupt politician so intellectually inept he famously forgot the three agencies of the Federal government he was determined to close during a live presidential debate) "the best governor in America".

Have you seen Perry strutting around with his new thick-framed glasses on trying to look serious in the run-up to the 2016 Republican primary for president? If he thinks Chris Christie's Bridge-Gate and some new glasses make him more palatable as a potential president he's even dumber than he looked during the 2012 race.

Doesn't Perry realize he's never going to be elected president after bringing friends and allies to his family's reclusive West Texas hunting club known as "Niggerhead" for the words painted on the big rock that stood by the entrance to the property for years? Seriously dude, I love history and I don't even want to know the degrading horrific story behind where that name came from. But I digress.

Today's Tea Party pushes the buttons and the GOP reluctantly moves out onto the floor of the American political spectrum and dances. Take a popular national Republican figure like Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.

Not too long ago he seemed appealing to a cross-section of American voters with his background as a first generation child of immigrant parents from Asia; and he even had the courage to call out the GOP for it's ignorance.

Then he did a 180 and willingly retreated into the intellectual abyss by symbolically rallying around manufactured media figures the Duck Dynasty clan; savvy southern businessmen with immense wealth who grew out their facial hair, donned hunting fatigues and bandannas to pose as authentic backwoods country boys.

Why the about face by Bobby? To gain street cred with extremist Tea Baggers and their embrace of intolerance under the guise of defending the Duck Dynasty patriarch's archaic misinterpretation of the Gospels.

So while I respect her right to challenge Republican incumbent Pete Sessions for the seat, I just can't take someone like Katrina Pierson, or her candidacy for the Congressional seat in the 32nd district of Texas very seriously. Not when she's aligned herself with this Tea Party.

The Tea Party that sees stripping away the Constitutionally-mandated voting rights of the poor, legal immigrants, students, the elderly and people of color as a viable strategy to win a political election. The same Tea Party that embraces Ted Nugent's anger and hatred.

As a person with a conscience and respect for the rights of all people, I see Katrina Pierson's run for Congress as a Tea Party member as an exercise in empty rhetoric lacking a moral underpinning.

She props herself up in front of the cameras on Fox News and repeats the same vague criticisms of President Obama that Fox News has been repeating over and over for six years and has the gall to call him "completely lawless"? What does that even mean?

Pierson prattles on about her abstract desire to "audit" the Federal government or how providing health care for millions of uninsured Americans is "intruding" into their personal lives - I just can't take that crap seriously. Like most Tea Baggers she can't say anything concrete about what she actually stands for.

It's sounds too much like she's been "chosen" as an easy-to-look at prop candidate to run for the seat by the same moneyed wing of the Republican party that wants to "repair" its perception in the eyes of African-Americans and people of color - the same demographic that overwhelmingly voted for President Obama in 2012.

To have a prayer of winning the White House in 2016 the GOP needs a credible black person to get up in front of the cameras and repeat the mantras of it's tent pole issues; which are non-specific ideological beliefs rather than policy statements; and worse they're totally unrelated to the everyday concerns of most Americans trying to recover from the Great Recession. Don't see much of Condoleeza Rice around these days do you?

So call me a cynic but I believe Katrina Pierson is merely the latest roll-out of the disastrous Republican strategy to expand it's voter base among minorities and women. Do Republicans or Tea Partiers really expect her to beat Pete Sessions in the 32nd district? An incumbent GOP Congressmen who chairs the Rules Committee?

Unless Sessions comes out as a pedophile heroin-addict who kills puppies, I think not. Hey I'm all for equal opportunity and if a black woman wants to run for a Republican Texas seat in Congress then by all means go for it; thanks to real trailblazers like Shirely Chisolm she has that opportunity.

But Congress is already dysfunctional enough as it is with a Republican majority who opposes everything and really doesn't use the legislative power they've been given to do anything except pass anti-abortion legislation and useless symbolic opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act; which is already law.

Why? To appease a tiny fraction of the 435 members of the House of Representatives who are Tea Party candidates who use their office to block initiatives intended to help Americans and espouse the same kind of ideological clap trap that Katrina Pierson delivers.

Unfortunately she's a dollar short and a day late as one of my old football coaches used to say. Katrina might have ridden that Tea Party wave into Congressional office back in 2010, but America has had enough of that obstructionist extremist nonsense. 

The fact that she actually touts a political endorsement by Sarah Palin doesn't really speak volumes about her political savvy either; even mainstream Republicans shunned Palin at the 2012 Republican National Convention when they desperately needed anything (Clint Eastwood talking to a chair?) to boost Romney's appeal as a candidate. 

That in itself should tell you something about Pierson's chances of being elected. Her political beliefs, such as they are, are simply out of step with where the country is going to be by the mid-term Congressional elections that are going to be significantly more substantive with the Presidential elections so close.

For all practical (political) purposes, she's a candidate who's time has come and gone before the election has even taken place; and her candidacy doesn't make the GOP any less misogynistic than it already is.  

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