American conservatives can be crazy
By: Warren Kinsella
PORTLAND, ME. - Folks in these parts are friendly. Their politicians, however, are crazier than an outhouse rat.
Especially the conservative ones. As a people, Americans are outgoing, friendly and gregarious. If a Canadian paying a visit looks lost, or like she needs some help, there’ll be no shortage of Americans pausing to offer directions or lend a hand.
Their politicians, meanwhile — the Republican ones more than the Democratic ones — would just as soon shoot you than extend assistance. They’re a mean and miserly bunch, these stateside conservatives, and they’re plenty different from conservative politicos back home.
In recent days, the latest GOP cretin to achieve notoriety is Todd Akin, a Missouri congressman. Currently running for a Senate seat, Akin gave a TV interview in which he said women’s bodies are able to prevent pregnancy in the case of “legitimate rape.”
Like many conservatives, Akin opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. When asked to expound on his views, Akin stated that it was “really rare” for a woman to get pregnant in such cases.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down,” he said.
That was news to millions of women, as well as their doctors, of course. As such, there’s been an explosion of outrage about the addled Akin’s remarks. But, as far as anyone knows, he is still ahead of his Democratic Party rival in the polls. Here in Maine, there is a long and storied history of right-wing politicians saying hateful, stupid things. During the long Republican presidential nomination contest, it happened all the time.
For instance, Rick Santorum — for a while Mitt Romney’s main challenger — said he opposed government handouts because “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone else’s money.”
Another GOP star, Newt Gingrich, opined that he favoured the death penalty for — wait for it — people who smuggle marijuana.
Another erstwhile presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, was quite upset about President Barack Obama’s health care reforms. She therefore called on like-minded conservatives to “make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass.”
You may oppose many of Stephen Harper’s policies, like I do, but it’s hard to picture the Conservative prime minister uttering words that are as flat-out insane as Santorum, Gingrich or Bachmann’s. So, too, most other Canadian conservative lawmakers. They may be unworthy of power, but they’re not permanent residents of Planet Crazy, like Republican legislators so often are.
Mainly, this is because the origins of Canadian rightists can be traced to that oxymoronic political variant, “progressive conservatives.” As a spate of provincial elections have shown — as the centre-hugging Harper knows — if you turn the wheel too far to the right, you’ll end up in a ditch. You’ll lose.
Canadians don’t mind conservatives, as long as “conservatives” stay “progressive.” That would make no sense to a Republican around here, but in the Great White North it’s a formula that works.
Stateside, conservative crazy sells. Back home, not so much.
God bless Canada!
Categories: Contributor Columns