Gov. Rick Perry, once the darling of the Republican Party, has recently been dropping in his approval ratings as voters have become acquainted with his policies and rhetoric. Under-qualified and uninformed, the slang-slinging Texas cowboy has set out to demonstrate to the rest of the country that, indeed, Texas is exactly like the stereotype it had in mind. While Perry may have a commendable record as Texas governor, depending on whom you ask, his policies and ideas would not translate to a successful presidency.
One of Perry’s principal talking points is his allegedly stellar record of job creation during his time as Texas governor. Indeed, the number of jobs created within the last 10 years is noteworthy, as the Dallas Federal Reserve claims that 37 percent of all net new American jobs through April 2011 were created in Texas, according to the Wall Street Journal. Yet, is this job creation truly due to the conservative leadership in Texas, as Perry asserts? The state’s thriving petroleum and oil industries, ports and proximity to Mexico and low-cost labor are all factors that make Texas unique to other states. Furthermore, many of the policies in place in Texas were inherited from the last three governors, who all have better job creation records than Perry.
While Perry’s record of job creation may look attractive to voters, they must assess whether his record could translate to success for the rest of the country. Many of the jobs he so gallantly created for Texas have come from the “high profile [job] raids” on other states, according to Time Magazine. Some of his raids include stealing 153 businesses from California in November 2010, though he only managed to retain 61 of those businesses in Texas. While job raiding may be a clever, albeit unsportsmanlike, tactic for a state governor, this tactic would hardly be applicable to increasing jobs on a national level. Unless Perry is somehow able to steal jobs from other countries and miraculously infuse oil reserves and other abundant natural resources throughout the United States, Perry will be unable to use this strategy to increase the number of jobs in the nation.
One of the most memorable quotes of the 2011 Republican debates is Perry’s description of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.” The governor highlights the need for our country to have a “frank and honest national conversation” about fixing Social Security. Many politicians and voters can agree that this 80-year-old program needs reforms, though few have described Social Security as elegantly as Perry. Upon likening the program to a deceptive financial fraud, he failed to account for the fact that life expectancy has increased in the United States over the last 80 years, and thus retiring baby boomers are requiring longer-term funding than was anticipated at the inception of this program. So yes, Perry, along with countless other politicians and pundits, is correct in noting that the program, morally the exact opposite of a Ponzi scheme, is losing money and needs reforms. However, until he can provide actual suggestions for these reforms, lacking even in his op-ed piece in USA Today, his argument does not help him transcend the other Republican nominees.
One of Perry’s rare acts of intelligence has proved itself to be a significant pitfall among conservative voters: Perry’s 2007 executive order to require young girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the nation according to the Women’s Oncology Research and Dialogue. Under Perry’s executive order, girls would be required to get the HPV vaccine before entering sixth grade unless their parents opted them of it. Many conservatives, notably Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, are adamantly against this mandate, reiterating the fact that it infringes on families’ privacy and freedom of choice, two points conservatives routinely argue against in regards to abortion. Clearly, Perry’s aim was to protect the future generation from a cancer-causing disease, and I would have commended his actions had he not succumbed to the criticism of conservative Texas legislators and eventually backed down from his mandate, proving his inconsistencies and inability to firmly back his own policies.
Finally, let us not forget that we are discussing the potential of having an Aggie as our nation’s president. This alone makes even the psychotic and fallacious rhetoric of Bachmann somewhat appealing.
Waliany is a Plan II and government senior.