What Sort of Democrat Was Rick Perry?

August 25th, 2011 at 12:43 pm | 24 Comments |

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Texas Governor Rick Perry has been under criticism for comments he made in his book Fed Up! and in an interview regarding Social Security and Medicare. In these comments, he stated that such programs were bad public policy and were possibly unconstitutional. His campaign has backpedaled a bit from these comments, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that:

But since jumping into the 2012 GOP nomination race on Saturday, Mr. Perry has tempered his Social Security views. His communications director, Ray Sullivan, said Thursday that he had “never heard” the governor suggest the program was unconstitutional. Not only that, Mr. Sullivan said, but “Fed Up!” is not meant to reflect the governor’s current views on how to fix the program…The book, Mr. Sullivan said, “is a look back, not a path forward.” It was written “as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto,” Mr. Sullivan said.

I’m perfectly willing to take Sullivan and Perry at their word and assume that Perry’s theories about the constitutionality and inception of Social Security and Medicare won’t be central to how he would handle such matters if he becomes President. One can have critical views of how certain policies came into being and separate those views from how one handles such policies when given the responsibility of governance.

What I am wondering is this: when and why did Rick Perry come to believe that Social Security and Medicare are public policy blunders and are probably unconstitutional? The reason I ask is because Rick Perry used to be a Democrat. While one can change one’s mind on issues and parties, it seems like Perry’s explanation for why he changed parties is a variation on President Reagan’s famous statement that “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me”. The thing is, Reagan said that before Medicare was enacted and after some major ideological soul-searching that still didn’t call for a complete repeal of the New Deal. While Perry was a Democrat, support for Social Security and Medicare were well-established parts of mainstream thought throughout the party. It is true that the Democratic Party has moved to the left over the past forty years on social and cultural issues, but I don’t think one can say that the mainstream Democratic view on the constitutionality of and basic support for Social Security and Medicare has changed much since 1968.

This isn’t a gotcha question or a criticism of these views. (They may be right.) This is a serious question regarding public policy and how a Presidential candidate came to the views he has today. If Rick Perry was a Democrat who always thought Social Security and Medicare were unconstitutional policy mistakes, he was (to put it mildly) a very unique Democrat and if he didn’t believe that during his Democratic years, it is fair to ask when and why he changed his mind. He may not act on these views when faced with the realities of holding office, but it would be good to know how and why he came to believe what he apparently believes today.

Recent Posts by Mark R. Yzaguirre



24 Comments so far ↓

  • Saladdin

    Mark,

    Very interesting points. It would seem to behoove Gov. Perry to adequately answer these questions prior to becoming the party’s nominee. Still think political expediency had a bit more to do with his decision than he’s letting on.

    • Bulldoglover100

      Except he won’t ever answer them. Too busy lying about his record to ever try to set anything straight.

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  • Cforchange

    Political chameleons are the problem.

  • ottovbvs

    I”t was written “as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto,” Mr. Sullivan said.”

    Yeah right, that’s going to convince everybody. I didn’t really mean it.

  • Lonewolf

    Come lissen to a story, ’bout a empty suit named Rick,
    Failed Guvvyner o’ Texas; couldn’t make his budgets stick.
    Former Demmycrat who joined th’ Tea Party tent,
    ‘Cause they’re the only ones who prayed
    He’d become the Prezzy-deeent …

    ‘Murrican, that is…. Love yer rich … Tax yer poor …

    Wal, th’ first thing y’know, ole Rick was Prezzydent.
    Obama’s socialistic hordes, a-packin’ they wuz sent!
    Abortion’s now illegal, an’ so is burnin’ flags,
    And he’s jailed Ben Bernanke, jest like he did th’ f*gs…..

    God’s will, y’know …. Pray fer rain … Fam’ly valyoos ….

  • Emma

    Perry: “THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE.” Oh, wait a minute, that’s what I used to believe. Well, not exactly, that’s what I’m told some people used to believe — I may or may not have agreed with them. Wait, wait, what I meant to say was that someone else wrote the book for me and they told me those would be good things to say, and I believed him. Now hold it, just hold it, I know I should have read the book, but I was busy doing the people’s business, and I really shouldn’t be held accountable for a book I didn’t write or read. Ok, wait, I know it says that I was the author, and I was to the extent that the views expressed agree with my own, then and possibly now, I can’t be sure, but I certainly was the author in the most sincere, reverent Christian mythological way, and, you know, God always appreciates it when my book is applauded because that praise is truly deserved as from on high, but when the book (not necessarily, my book) is criticized, well, that’s just wrong, probably incited by the Devil or the Democrats (is there a difference?), and really, and as I’m sure you would agree with this, bad mouthing my book is just the same as profaning the name of our Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.

  • cryptozoologist

    “It is true that the Democratic Party has moved to the left over the past forty years on social and cultural issues…”

    not on this planet. obama is to the left of johnson on social issues? of course these two guys aren’t the entire party but get a grip.

    • Rabiner

      Well Obama is definitely more of an advocate for gay rights and reproductive rights than Johnson ever was. I’d say Johnson was much more a populist than Obama however.

      • Saladdin

        Rabiner,

        Imagine the current President declaring a “War on Poverty” You can imagine right wing heads exploding all over the country.

  • LFC

    Looks like Rick Perry has more than his share of Mitt Romney’s flip-flop gene.

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  • Biped

    To put Perry into TV sitcom terms, he’s a cross between Lyle Waggoner and Mr. Haney.

    • Lonewolf

      Mmm – maybe the scatterbrained Governor Gatling from “Benson”, but with his innate decency and sophistication removed, and replaced with the charm, gentleness and scruples of Boss Hogg from “Dukes of Hazzard”.

  • valkayec

    Perry says and has been reported as being a very conservative Democrat a decade ago. Then, when the GOP gained the upper hand in Texas politics, he switched parties. Personally, I think his views are as malleable as aluminum foil. I don’t think he really believes in anything other than Rick Perry.

  • JohnMcC

    It seems interesting to political junkies like us that Perry was a Dem through the McGovern era, became Independent in 2000 and only joined the Repubs in 2002. But I think it speaks only to one thing — his judgement of the best vehicle to get Rick Perry elected in Texas.

  • Graychin

    You really think that Perry is that deep a thinker?

    Really?

  • Bulldoglover100

    Perry is ALL about Perry… He is an A** Clown t…without any reality regarding education as a useful tool.

  • Smargalicious

    ^Har! The leftist whackjobs are cackling because a Christian conservative is a threat to their half-Kenyan reparationist Messiah.

    Pshaw.

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