Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clements, the Green Party's Candidate, for South Carolina Senate Race

America needs a qualified and intelligent candidate who will work with the president. DeMint will not work with the president but Alvin Green isn't smart enough to work in Congress at all. Clements offers voters a reasonable, if somewhat more liberal, and viable option.

In all likelihood when South Carolinians head to the polls in two weeks they will vote to send their incumbent senator, Jim DeMint (R – SC), back to Washington. They shouldn’t, but they will.

South Carolinia residents as a whole want their senators to vote conservative down the line and the incumbent senator has not disappointed them in that regard. Mr. DeMint has compiled a very conservative voting record on fiscal, international and cultural issues over his years in Congress.

Business interest groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Taxpayers’ Union have given the senator some very high marks over the course of his years in service as have groups that oppose abortion rights and gay equality, like the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council. The incumbent senator has also compiled for himself a hawkish war record, allowing him to say he is “strong” on national defense. The National Rifle Association gives him high marks.
Environmental activistis and civil rights groups do not.

His conservative voting record may endear him to South Carolina’s residents and it may have shielded him from a “Tea Party” primary challenge that his colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, may face when he runs for re-election, but it is not good for the state or the nation as a whole. Eventually we, South Carolinians included, will have to pay in terms of entitlement cuts we cannot afford because the senator and those who continually support him vote for tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and expensive wars with no clear end in site.

DeMint voted for the Bush tax cuts that largely benefited the wealthy and he has vowed to block any measure that only extended the tax cuts for those earn $250,000 or less a year. These tax cuts will cost the federal government the billions of dollars which DeMint himself says it cannot afford (he thinks we have to concern ourselves with deficit spending). DeMint’s

Senator DeMint has voted against George W. Bush’s unpopular Troubled Asset Relief Program as well as the current president’s initiatives which were designed to get us out of this economic rut, most notably its economic stimulus and financial reform packages. TARP was designed to save the banks that provide businesses large and small with loans from going under. Had they done so this nation would have faced an economic depression not seen since 1929.

Reasonable people have disagreed about the size and the composition of the economic stimulus package. Some, including this blogger, thought the president should have asked Congress for a significantly larger but more narrowly focused stimulus package to rebuild this nation’s transportation infrastructure. Senator DeMint’s opposition was rooted in his desire to see the president fail. He did not explicitly say so at the time but we knew he where he as coming from when urged Republicans to give the president his “Waterloo” moment on health care reform. Had he cared about this nation’s rising unemployment, DeMint would have presented the president and the American people with a suitable alternative. He did not.
Last week the senator reiterated a position that should have disqualified him from office to begin with – his belief that gay people should not be teaching in the United States’ public schools. His bigotry will not cost him many votes in South Carolina since most people in that state believe gay Americans aren’t entitled to basic privacy rights, let alone equal employment opportunity rights, but his timing could not have been worse. His comments came after several gay teenagers committed suicide, reinforcing the marginalization which their survivors face day after day in schools and homes across America.

The Democrats unfortunately, haven’t nominated a credit-worthy challenger to oust DeMint from his seat on Capitol Hill. They nominated Alvin Greene, an unemployed war veteran whose inability to put a noun and a verb together in a coherent sentence on a friendly talk show (like “The Last Word” hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell”) raises questions about the University of Carolina’s (his alma mater) graduation standards. Mr. Greene isn’t merely unqualified to sit on Capitol Hill; he might not make it there even if South Carolina’s voters were dumb enough to vote for him. A grand jury indicted him on charges for showing a college student pornographic pictures.

As an alternative voters should pull the lever for Tom Clements, the Green Party’s nominee. Mr. Clements doesn’t have a strong background in government.or public affairs and has spent his time after obtaining his Mastery in Forest Resources at the University of Georgia as an anti-nuclear and environmental activist in various capacities for different organizations. His positions are far to South Carolina’s left (and to the left of the nation’s as well if we consider his neo-pacifist war views and mine if we add his support for illegal immigrant amnesty and the teachers unions' anti-reformist educational policy) but his his expertise can be helpful when the Democrats ask him to work with them on Energy Policy and when the voter is faced with a candidate who has no intention of negotiating with, let alone supporting, a president in the opposition and another candidate who has no qualifications for the office, a vote for the leftist who will occasionally work for the president will have to do. Mr. Clements’ critique of the the presidents economic stimulus package (it was too small) was right on target and certainly not that far out of the mainstream (nobel prize economist Paul Krugman of The New York Times said as much) nor is his belief that we should focus this nation's attention on creating green jobs by investing in solar power (among other things) and mass transit. President Barack Obama can look to his support in formulating a third economic stimulus package. Mr. Obama could also look for Clement's support in any vote to let the Bush tax cuts going to the top 2% earners expire as well as any vote to extend unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs to his predecessor's recession. He will not vote against abortion rights and he can be counted on to vote for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

The president, should he decide to keep his campaign promises, would have someone to work and negotiate with in Clements.

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