George Graham

The Rise of “Kick-ass” Conservatism in America

Someone said on TV recently that while George Bush was a “compassionate conservative,” presidential candidate Rick Perry is a “kick-ass conservative.” I suppose that means Perry doesn’t try to ingratiate himself with voters but says what he thinks regardless of the fallout.

And he certainly says outrageous things. In fact, he has written a book full of outrageous things – advocating the elimination of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, for example.

Perry has also called Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke “treasonous” and suggested doing “ugly things” to him, leaving listeners to wonder what kind of “ugly things” they do to traitors in Texas. (When I heard those words, I had visions of shadowy figures hanging from cottonwood trees, but maybe that was just me.)

Whatever he meant, Perry is a thoroughly nasty human being, and apparently he doesn’t care who knows it.

And he is not unique in the new Republican Party.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, for example, has built a reputation for “telling it like it is,” and he is one of the party’s most popular stars.

Then there’s that other presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, who previously struck me as being a mealy-mouth chameleon who would say anything if he though it would get him elected. Surprisingly (as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pointed out last night), he has been showing his true colors recently, joking about being “unemployed,” insisting that “corporations are people” and bragging about the planned expansion of his ocean-front mansion.

He seems to be saying, vote for me, peasants, because I’m a multimillionaire!

I won’t get into Michele Bachmann’s remarks. Each day brings new examples of her disregard for historical accuracy and conventional decency. But she presses on, brushing aside any attempt to set her straight.

Now comes more evidence that the new Republican Party is the home of the ruling class. The Associated Press reports Republicans are planning to raise taxes on working Americans. Yes, the same Republicans who went to the mat in the recent debt ceiling horror because of their opposition to any and all tax increases!

President Obama is calling for extension of legislation that lowered the 6.2 percent Social Security tax  to 4.2 percent. The tax cut will expire in January.

Incredibly, Republicans are getting ready to block the president’s bid to extend the payroll tax holiday.

In an article in ThinkProgress yesterday, Alex Seitz-Wald explained that extending the tax cut would benefit nearly all working Americans, not just the rich, and have by far the biggest impact on low- and middle-income earners:

Social Security payroll taxes mainly benefit middle- and working-class Americans, as the tax only applies to the first $106,800 of a worker’s wages. Thus, no matter how much money someone makes, they will see a maximum benefit of $2,136 from the holiday — a pittance compared to the savings for the wealthy from the Bush income tax cuts.

Click here to read the article.

Click here for payroll tax details.

I don’t have space to go into the spate of in-your-face policies that Republican governors and legislatures have tried to implement in recent months – in Wisconsin, for example, and Ohio, and Michigan…

Click here for background.

But I’m sure you get the idea.

The new Republicans are openly and proudly the party of the upper dog, and if the rest of us don’t like it, well then we can just vote for someone else.

To me, that should spell certain defeat in the 2012 elections. After all, there are a lot more of us peasants than ruling-class voters.

But I have this nagging feeling that I might be wrong.

American voters are a strange lot. Perry, for example, has never been defeated in an election. Of course, all of his victories were in Texas, and I can only pray the rest of the country is different.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for