Reportage / Society

Rick Perry: a Texan running in the 2012 campaign

Always smiling and concerned about his citizens, this could be the first thought that comes into one’s mind when looking at Rick Perry during his presidential election campaign. Of course, this statement is mostly true for all candidates. They first appear as your best friend, but as time passes, you realize they could become your worst enemy.

Let’s focus first on Rick Perry’s life with this brief biography, which will make you discover, or know better, the background of a candidate to the 2012 presidential elections and his electoral program. This way you can appreciate more the spicy controversies that have arisen during his political campaign.

He was born in Texas…

Rick Perry in his ranch

Rick Perry in his ranch

The Republican candidate was born in 1950, at Paint Creek, a little quiet town of six thousand inhabitants in Texas. He grew up in the “Niggerhead” Ranch (see the controversy part) surrounded by a long-established Texan family living here for generations and that have surely taught him the fundamental classic American values.

In order to keep with a good American spirit, he graduated from a Texas university, served in the United States Air Force, and worked on his family farm. Despite all these duties, he still took the time to marry his high school sweetheart in 1982, Anita, and have two children (This sounds like the perfect American way of life, doesn’t it?). Now, let’s see how this context has influenced his politics…

Following the American dream: Rick Perry and politics

“This is (America) the land of opportunity – a place where, after all, a rural cotton farmer from Paint Creek, Texas, can become governor” Rick Perry, Fed Up!, “2010”

His decision to focus his career on politics emerged after his election to the Texas House of Representatives for the Democratic party, in 1984. As surprising as it may sound, according to this blog, the Republican candidate supported Al Gore as a future presidential candidate. However, he rapidly turned to the Republican party.

Partly because of his family heritage, he became Agricultural Commissioner of Texas for eight years (from 1990 until 1998). He soon climbed the career ladder. Indeed in 1998 he became Lieutenant Governor of Texas, and replaced George W. Bush after his resignation as the 47th Governor of Texas in 2000. Since then, he has not been replaced by other candidates.

Rick Perry’s main concern as Governor is that his state does not have too many taxes, a classic tactic for a Republican politician. Besides, though his state is proud to be “the best in creating jobs” in the United States today, these are mostly short term jobs. Regarding education, one important measure he favored was a $2000 teachers’ pay raise and above all, the “return to basic subjects” such as Maths, History and Science. In other words, an easy way to reduce Texas debt is to cut teachers’ jobs and to remove important courses in education, while seemingly being concerned with the teachers’ profession… About security, Mr. Perry “has pursued an aggressive border security strategy that is putting more boots on the ground, more helicopters in the sky”, as his official website shows.

Because he was “Fed-up”: Rick Perry 2012 presidential elections campaign

On August 12, 2011, Perry announced he would be running in the next Presidential elections “to ensure that America can remain free and prosperous- and capable of continuing to lead the world”, as he wrote in his book Fed Up!. Though he was not really famous outside Texas, his tremendous campaign raised his visibility. He became one of the top ten presidential candidates of the United States. However, as the “national polls” website shows, huge controversies about his policies and important mistakes he made during his campaign, placed him at the sixth place with more or less 6% of the votes.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

Definitely anti-Obama, as his negative campaign proves, Rick Perry proposes a “prosperity agenda” to get out of the American economic crisis. He proudly shows Texas as an example regarding job increases in the private sector. His other plans focus on tax and spending cuts, and security.

But let’s move to contentious issues such as abortion, the death penalty and the health-care system. The 1960s sexual revolution surely had no effect on Rick Perry’s attitude regarding women’s pregnancy, as he claims he is Pro-Life (meaning anti-abortion). In January 2011, new anti-abortion laws were passed. Explicitly, a minor needs the consent of an adult to have an abortion, a woman has to listen to the advice of anti-abortion counseling and can have public funding only in case of endangerment, rape or incest.

Another issue that the Governor of Texas defends vehemently is the death penalty. He is so tough with it that Texas is ranked the number one state in number of executions (ref: http://deathpenaltyinfo.org/) with 234 people executed since Rick Perry has been elected (over a total of 477, since 1976). Nevertheless, on MSNBC, Rick Perry stated that he “never struggled with that at all”. To him, Texas’ Justice system is “very thoughtful” and “clear”.

The last delicate and controversial issue in Rick Perry’s campaign regards the health-care system. The New York Times is clear on this point: “After Mr. Perry’s decade in office, Texas now claims the highest uninsured rate”. There, he stands strongly against Obama’s policies, partly because Rick Perry’s leitmotif is based on American “freedom”: “our ability to decide how we shall live is (…) in the control of an increasingly powerful and oppressive national government”, he wrote in his book.

Rick Perry’s (chosen) burning issues

Rick Perry's "Oops"

Rick Perry’s “Oops”

During his presidential campaign, Rick Perry has made the media feel happier than ever. Here is a chosen list of his best T.V appearances and debates that surely had negative fallout on his campaign:

For most people, Rick Perry’s last flub announced the end of his place in the top candidates for the nominations. With only 4% of the potential votes for now, it seems that Perry is surviving to remain in the election race. In front of him are President Obama, Mitt Romney (Republican), Newt Gingrich (Republican), Rick Santorum (Republican) and Ron Paul (Republican).

More about Rick Perry:

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