Politics Across the Pond

January 28, 2014 — Leave a comment

It’s a funny thing what an ocean can do to politics. Living in Britain I considered myself a centrist conservative with, on some issues, a leftish bent. Arriving in America for our first foray to the New World, very new in that for the first time ever we lived in the suburbs, I assumed if and when I was able to vote and therefore have a say, I would be of the Republican ilk. It took me a relatively short time to realise that on this side of the Atlantic, and surrounded by Republicans, I was close to being considered a rabid left wing radical.

After a three-year stint in Equatorial Guinea, a small despotic country tucked into the folds of a map of West Africa, we found ourselves back in America, this time without dependents and able to return to our natural habitat, that of urban life.

Houston has a Democratic mayor. Harris County has a Republican judge, and sitting in the Governor’s Mansion in Austin is Republican Rick Perry, in situ since he took over from George W Bush who moved to the White House in January 2001. Having stated he will not be seeking another term, it is widely believed Governor Perry is considering another run at the presidency despite the debacle of his previous attempt. His ‘oops’ moment has been waved away as a result of medications taken for a bad back. He’s had a makeover, and appears to be allowing his once oil-black hair to grey and now sports black-rimmed glasses, seemingly in an attempt to portray gravitas.

Thus the battle for governor is being fought between the current Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, a Republican, and member of the Texas Senate, Wendy Davis, a Democrat; she of the eleven-hour filibuster staged in 2013 to block new abortion laws for Texas women. The election is not until November this year but both campaign war chests are obscenely full with over ten million dollars in each. That is a lot of cash that could be spent on clinics and classrooms.

The incumbent Lt. Governor David Dewhurst is running for re-election and hopes naturally to maintain the second highest position in Texas politics. But first he has to be chosen by the Republican party, the GOP (Grand Old Party), as the most likely to win against the Democratic candidate Leticia Van de Putte.

Last night saw a televised debate between the four men vying for poll position, or as the Houston Chronicle headlined, “GOP candidates joust for conservative crown”. Standing tall behind their lecterns, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Senator Dan Patrick, Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples and the incumbent each attempted to outdo the other in their conservative credentials.

None of them are known to support the President’s Affordable Care Act. All four firmly believe the Texas border with Mexico should be strengthened, though where they will stand on the House Republican’s mooted plans for immigration reform to be announced later this week I’m not yet sure. They believe creationism, described by Wikipedia as “the religious belief that life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being” should be taught in schools, to the detriment of science.

However the proclamation that sent me stumbling to the furthest left corner was their agreement that the family wracked by the unfathomable decision of a Texas hospital, ostensibly following Texas law, to keep a pregnant brain-dead woman alive while her fetus incubated in her degenerating body had acted responsibly. Only after taking the Fort Worth hospital to court and hearing evidence the fetus had severe and “distinct abnormalities” was the family able to have the machines switched off. When challenged last night Dewhurst said, “If you have a viable baby and it can be born, that’s life. So I think it was a mistake.” Our definitions of viable obviously differ, and the agony the Munoz family has been put through seems to bear no import.

The intrusion of state government in such a ghastly and tragic case is made even more incomprehensible by that same state’s animosity to edicts being sent from the Federal Government in Washington.

And so I have come to realise that my Tory upbringing has not translated to American English and that on this side of the pond, my politics is left even if I do turn right when entering the airplane to cross the Atlantic.

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