Rick Perry: Drawing the Lines Clearly

Rick Perry may just be the guy.  The country's longest tenured governor, from its second-largest state, is generating a lot of buzz in conservative circles as he contemplates entering the wide open Republican presidential primary.  There are plenty of reasons that Perry is an attractive option: he is a no-nonsense decision-maker with solid conservative credentials.  A man who not only speaks about family values, but lives them, Perry's power to persuade voters to see things his way is proven -- battle-tested in a state known for independent-minded citizens.

But what serious political analysts on both sides of the aisle will acknowledge as perhaps Perry's strongest attribute heading into 2012 is the stark contrast that would be evident in a potential Perry-Obama showdown.  While Republican front-runner Mitt Romney capitulates to the left on global warming, refuses to sign a pro-life pledge, and ridiculously defends the RomneyCare failure in Massachusetts, the media is working overtime to tout their choice, former Utah Governor and Obama administration official Jon Huntsman, as the Republicans' best hope.  What nonsense. 

While Huntsman or Romney might please the same Republican establishment that brought us the mesmerizing campaigns of John McCain and Bob Dole, the best thing for the Republican Party -- and the country -- is for there to be a sharp distinction between the two parties' nominees.  If there were any question about whether Rick Perry would provide a clear alternative to Obama, look only to the left's reaction to Perry's recent speech at the Republican Leadership Conference.

Following his remarks (which, though well-prepared and delivered, were nothing outside mainstream conservative thought), MSNBC's liberal commentator Mika Brzezinski proclaimed that she "felt like an alien" watching the speech.  While others may recoil at such an outlandish declaration about what was a fairly benign, if fiery, conservative speech, I found myself applauding Mika's refreshing candor about the perspective of the American left. 

It's high time Americans know that ideas like the ones Perry addressed -- American exceptionalism, the sanctity of life, states' rights, personal freedom -- are foreign concepts to the modern left.  They can't make sense of them and can't imagine that anyone actually believes that way.  

Remember Barack Obama's take on the concept of American exceptionalism was to interpret it as nothing more than an aggressive form of nationalistic pride.  "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism," he famously stammered.  That's why he prostrates himself before foreign leaders and thinks that becoming more respected in the world means diminishing our power and influence to be on par with everyone else.  And it's also why when hearing Rick Perry proclaim that America must return to global "preeminence because our values...are the world's greatest hope," he and Mika feel like aliens.

And to what values does Perry refer?  Those enshrined in the Declaration of Independence -- the world's foremost statement on human liberty and freedom, where life, liberty, and property are protected as inalienable.  While the Texas Governor makes an unapologetic appeal to those principles, demanding that "we need to stop apologizing for celebrating life," Mika and the left look through the dingy windows of Planned Parenthood's abortion mill and scratch their heads.

Americans need to see this contrast in 2012.  After experiencing a liberal administration's heavy-handed, central planning philosophy on government, pursuing policies that greatly expand the power and influence of Washington into their daily lives, Americans need to hear a candidate who views such an approach as, "an affront to every freedom-loving American and a threat to every private sector job in this country."

After watching Obama act as a perpetual thorn in the sides of the states, suing them (Arizona), threatening them (South Carolina and Indiana), or crippling them (Louisiana), Americans need to hear from one who believes in allowing the states to be what Jefferson called the "laboratories of democracy," and calls to, "displace the entrenched powers in Washington, [and] restore the rightful balance between the state and federal government."

It's instructive that Mika's alien comment came on the heels of fellow liberal commentator Chris Matthews complaining that conservative Christians who disapproved of disgraced Democrat Anthony Weiner's sexcapades were "culturally backwards."  To the left, it wasn't Weiner's behavior that was backwards.  No, that distinction belonged to those who expect honesty, integrity, and morality from their lawmakers.  The disparity between the views of the right and left is as obvious as ever.  Maybe this is what the Democrats' criminally indicted former Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards meant all those years he spent talking about there being two different Americas.

Put succinctly, I'm with Mika.  The ideological distinction has never been so clear in this country.  So let's make sure that reality is reflected and highlighted in glaring detail during the 2012 campaign and allow the American people to decide who the aliens are.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana.  Email peter@peterheck.com, visit www.peterheck.com, or like him on Facebook.

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