Why I’m Still Proud to Support Rick Perry
[Cross-posted from my blog www.formidablecourage.wordpress.com with minor edits]
I wrote “A Case for Governor Rick Perry” for a friend’s blog in early September. I was a very excited but extraordinarily naive political newbie back then. “This proud Perry supporter will go to the primaries with a clear and cheerful conscience,” I proclaimed, chipper and undaunted.
Then reality hit.
Debates, withering editorials, and embarrassing moments put new meaning into the phrase, “Politics is ugly.” I’ve flinched under the skeptical, sometimes hurtful comments, whether from people I know or from the media. I’ve shed a few frustrated tears. I’ve probably prayed more for my country than I ever have in my life.
And yet in spite of that I didn’t go to Herman Cain when he rose in the polls, and I didn’t go to Newt Gingrich when Cain imploded before my eyes.
So did I really mean it when I called myself “a proud Perry supporter?”
Yes, I did. And I still do. Only I’m much more sober and deliberate about it.
Rick Perry and Social Traditionalism
“For some candidates, ‘pro-life’ is an election-year slogan to follow the prevailing political winds. To me it’s about the absolute principle that every human being is entitled to life. All human life . . . is made in the image of our creator. And every innocent life must be protected, from the most frail, who are elderly, to the most vulnerable, who are unborn.”1
You can criticize Rick Perry on a lot of things, but you can’t doubt his stance on abortion. As governor, he has fought consistently for the rights of unborn babies. Earlier this year he signed into law a bill requiring all mothers to have an ultrasound before they abort their babies. (A federal judge struck down the law only months later, days before the law would have taken effect.) As recently as yesterday he declared his firm opposition even to abortion in cases of rape or incest. Those of us with strong pro-life principles will have nothing to fear under a President Perry.
He has also been a staunch defender of traditional marriage. Under his leadership, Texas has gained a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a covenant between a man and woman–not a man and a man, or a man and his dog, or a man and his kitchen table. We don’t have an amendment for the Federal Constitution on this issue yet; we should continue to fight for one. Governor Perry supports a federal marriage amendment, but for now, we have to stick to the original Constitution and leave the issue up to the States.
Part of Social Traditionalism is a recognition that our country is founded on a Judeo-Christian worldview. Without the values embraced by that worldview, society falls apart. Governor Perry confesses Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, and as a Christian he recognizes and proclaims a distinctly Biblical worldview.
“Now, some claim that there can be too much liberty or that people cannot be trusted if they have too much freedom. I do not believe that is true. The kind of liberty we construe as harmful is not really liberty but rather license. And license serves only the selfish appetite at the expense of others. Liberty is a God-given virtue; license is a destructive vice fomented by the forces of evil. If liberty were to include the freedom to harm others, then of course that would be too much of it. But within liberty’s essence is a recognition of the inherent value of other human beings.”2
“Either God exists or He doesn’t, and this isn’t relative to one’s own perspective. In other words, it is true or false independent of man’s perception. As Paul put it about Christian doctrine, either Jesus truly is the answer to sin–the Way, the Truth, and the Life as Christ says in John 14:6–or Christians “remain dead in their sins.” . . . The truth of Christ’s death, resurrection, and power over sin is absolute . . . What we believe about it does not determine its truthfulness.”3
Rick Perry and Fiscal Restraint
“Listen, we just got to get back to the basic truths of economic success. As Governor, I’ve had to deal with the consequences of this national recession. In 2003, and again this year, my state faced billions of dollars in budget shortfalls. But we worked hard, we made tough decisions, we balanced our budget. Not by raising taxes, but by setting priorities and cutting government spending . . . we have led Texas based on some just really pretty simple guiding principles. One is don’t spend all of the money. Two is keeping the taxes low and under control. Three is you have your regulatory climate fair and predictable. Four is reform the legal system so frivolous lawsuits don’t paralyze employers that are trying to create jobs . . .
“I’ve cut taxes. I have delivered historic property tax reductions. I was the first governor since World War II to cut general revenue spending in our state budget. We passed lawsuit reform, including just this last session a ‘loser pays’ law to stop the frivolous lawsuits that were happening . . . We need balanced budgets. We need lower taxes. We need less regulation. And we need civil justice reform – those same four principles. Our country’s most urgent need is to revitalize our economy, stop the generational theft that is going on with this record debt.”4
I know that’s a long quote, but he tells it so much better than I can. Texas is home to 10% of the entire American population, yet 45% of new jobs created in America since December 2000 were created in Texas itself. The pro-business, pro-entrepreneur atmosphere is liberating. It’s no wonder that millions of Americans are pouring into Texas–so much so that Texas is gaining four electoral votes while some states in New England are losing just as many or more. They call it “The Texas Miracle.”
And what’s the reason for it? Well, the four reasons quoted above:
One is don’t spend all of the money. Two is keeping the taxes low and under control. Three is you have your regulatory climate fair and predictable. Four is reform the legal system so frivolous lawsuits don’t paralyze employers that are trying to create jobs.
Governor Perry wants to bring more of the same to the rest of the country. His “Energizing American Jobs and Security” plan will free energy businesses from oppressive regulations (which kill jobs, by the way) while his “Cut, Balance, and Grow” and “Uproot and Overhaul Washington” plans will rein in Washington, D.C.’s reckless spending and insensitive opulence.
Rick Perry and National Security
“A president should never send our sons and daughters into war without a plan to win and the resources to make that possible. It’s a dangerous world that we live in today. Our enemies often don’t wear uniforms or swear allegiance to a particular flag but instead to an ideology of hatred. As the 10th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 approaches, we must renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy wherever they are before they strike at home.”5
Guess what? There are people out there who hate our guts. We can debate about why they hate us, but I think it goes farther back and much deeper than American military bases overseas. In many cases it’s a deep-rooted hatred of Western Civilization, and by default Christianity. For other enemies of America, it’s a malicious desire to see Communism achieve worldwide dominion. And for others, it’s nothing more than a lust for narcotic drugs and cash.
We certainly don’t have the money people would like to spend on some aspects of defense. Drastic times do indeed call for drastic measures. But our defense budget should not be cut in order to fund things like the National Endowment of the Arts, or the Marine Mammal Commission (yes, there is such a thing).
“The question we must ask is not what we can afford to spend on our military, but what it costs to remain secure and free.”6
We must be vigilant against those who would do us harm and capable of acting accordingly–not as the world’s policeman, but to defend our shores and extremely valuable and historic allies such as Israel or Great Britian.
“I do not believe that America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism. We should only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when our vital interests are threatened and we should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom loving people . . . we must be willing to act when it is time to act.”7
But although we must respect our allies, we can’t afford to pour money into their countries. So we set priorites. Our allies had better prove their good faith before they get an American dime. Foreign aid budgets should start at $0 for every country, and then each country should be evaluated according to its needs and its friendship with the United States.
And if budgets and security are so closely intertwined . . .
“There is no homeland security without border security.”8
. . . then it doesn’t make sense to spend $2 billion we don’t have on a fence that won’t do us any good across the United States-Mexican border. There’s already a 20-some-odd-foot fence in Brownsville, Texas–with a big ol’ gaping hole in it. I know–I’ve seen the pictures.
“If you build a 30 foot wall from Brownsville to El Paso, the 35 foot ladder business gets real good. You’ve got to have people on the ground.”9
Boots on the ground. Not only will it give returning Iraqi veterans a much-needed job, it will be infinitely more effective. We don’t need a worthless fence (though strategic fencing in metropolitan areas would certainly be useful). We need an active border patrol that keeps illegal immigrants out, but won’t interfere with valuable interaction between Mexico and the United States.
Rick Perry and Constitutional Adherence
“ ‘Fidelity to the Constitution’ means exactly what it sounds like it means. While there are some reasonable gray areas about which we can disagree, the text of the Constitution is hardly complicated and we are so far beyond the intent of the Founders with respect to so many of our lives that there are few politicians in Washington who can reasonably claim to be faithfully upholding the Constitution.”10
When our family found out Perry was considering a run for the White House, my dad gave me an assignment: order Perry’s book and read it. Usually I read a book within a week or so, but I took this one a little slower. I had to. Although Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington is a highly entertaining book, it’s nothing short of a scholarly, pro-Constitution manifesto, and needs to be taken in small bites.
One of Perry’s claims to fame is his emphasis on the 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” He elaborates on this further in his book, stating at the end of the chapter “States Do the Work of the People”:
“If the federal government continues to step beyond its enumerated powers and continues to tell the American people how to live their lives, states will continue to push back. There is no getting around that . . . The federal government must respect the Constitution so we once again can live in the freedom it protects.”11
On Saturday evening my respect for Rick Perry skyrocketed (if that is indeed possible). When asked by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli how he defined “Constitutional constructionism,” Governor Perry responded by pulling a pocket Constitution from his breast pocket. He held it up and said, “Read it . . . don’t read anything into it, don’t add to it, don’t use these different clauses . . . to try to change what our Founding Fathers were telling us.” We haven’t had a president say that since . . . wow, I don’t know when.
“Our fight is to save America from Washington. The idea of America–enshrined in the greatest founding document of all time–is worth fighting for. We just need a few good patriots who are fed up with the status quo, armed with the Constitution, and fueled with the courage to stand in the gap for future generations and to preserve for them to greatest beacon of hope, freedom, and prosperity the world has ever known.”12
Rick Perry and Personal Character
Character matters. We’ve seen that with Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and countless other politicians who’ve shown their utter disregard for truth, marital fidelity, honesty–you name it. You don’t trust people who waffle on core convictions, either. Just ask Mitt Romney.
Rick Perry is not perfect. I’m not saying that at all. I defy anyone to name a candidate who is 100% right on every single blessed issue. What I am saying is that Rick Perry has shown himself time and time again to be a man of conviction and principle–and not only that, but a man of kindness and consideration.
Governor Perry has struck the balance between submitting to the will of the people, yet sticking to his guns even when it may be unpopular at times. On the sticky issues of the Trans-Texas Corridor and the HPV vaccine, he submitted to the people’s will, and it was good and just that he did so. On the other hand, like my own Governor Bobby Jindal, he’s made sweeping cuts to Texas’ higher education system, much to the chagrin of some Texans. But Governor Perry believed that was the right thing to do, and rather than tax his people he tightened the state government’s belt. “Do right and risk consequences,” said Sam Houston.
The Perry family is a close-knit one: a testimony to loving parents, honoring children, and a strong marriage. It’s obvious from numerous photographs and videos that Governor Perry, his beautiful wife Anita, and their two children enjoy each other’s company. You’d have to be blind not to see that the Mr. and Mrs. are just a tad in love. Family: nothing matters if you don’t have a solid one.
“The Private Life of Governor Perry,” written by one of my fellow RedState members, tells the stories of Governor Perry’s personal kindnesses to the widow of an American soldier, to Navy SEAL hero Marcus Luttrell, and to cancer victim Heather Burcham. In my own article “In Which My Family Receives a Thanksgiving Blessing,” I shared how receiving a personal thank-you note from Governor Perry brought joy to me and my little sisters on a tragic morning. Considering others, taking time out of your busy day or your life for someone else: a sign of humility.
So am I proud to write “Perry 2012” on the dusty windows of our van, or tell people I think he’s the best choice? Am I proud to write this article?
You’ll bet I’m proud of it. I’ve received confirmation in the past few months that I’m indeed on the right track, whether from certain articles, events, or an encouraging note from someone who visited my blog (someone I didn’t even know). This is a marathon, not a sprint, and bumps in the road aren’t enough to make me sacrifice my conviction. If it’s God’s will that Rick Perry becomes president, then nothing will stop his inauguration from coming to pass.
And if it’s not God’s will, then I’ll be thankful for every day I’ve spent “campaigning,” knowing I followed my conscience and a man worthy of my support.
1 Rick Perry Speech Transcript, Values Voter Summit, October 2011
2 Perry, Rick. Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, “Why States Matter,” p. 20
3 Perry, Rick. On My Honor, “The Road Ahead: Can Scouting Survive?” p. 180
4 Text of Gov. Rick Perry’s Presidential Announcement Remarks, RedState Gathering 2011 in Charleston, S.C. (August 13, 2011)
5 Saenz, Arlette. “Rick Perry Wades Into Foreign Policy with Speech to Veterans” (http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/08/rick-perry-wades-into-foreign-policy-with-speech-to-veterans.html)
6 Rick Perry Speech Transcript, Values Voter Summit, October 2011
7 Saenz, Arlette. “Rick Perry Wades Into Foreign Policy with Speech to Veterans” (http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/08/rick-perry-wades-into-foreign-policy-with-speech-to-veterans.html)
8 Rick Perry Speech Transcript, Values Voter Summit, October 2011
9 “Rick Perry draws big crowds in N.H., takes subtle swipe at Mitt Romney” (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20101516-503544.html)
10 Perry, Rick. Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, “Retaking the Reins of Government,” p. 180
11 Ibid., “States Do the Work of the People,” p. 167
12 Ibid., “Retaking the Reins of Government,” p. 185