I got an invitation this morning, via e-mail, to participate in an opinion survey, from state GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd. It was just another of those bogus surveys that the political parties send out — you know, the ones that are more about making partisan assertions and whipping up the faithful (so that they’ll give money), rather than actually trying to learn from what other people think.
To be fair, this one is better than most such. I get the impression that this one is more about testing messages with the faithful (which is a FORM of information seeking at least) than about merely whipping them up. So it could be worse.
But I can’t help wishing that a party would actually try to determine what other people think, and learn from that, rather than just spinning the plate. Of course, if it did that, I suppose it would no longer be a political party.
Here was the come-on to get folks to take the survey:
YOUR ANSWERS: Please take the time to answer these short questions. We will be sending the results to every South Carolina Republican member of Congress and the General Assembly next week.
JUST 3 MINUTES: Will you take 3 minutes today to give us your opinion on the biggest issues facing South Carolina?
And here was the survey itself:
Please fill our out Summer Survey and give us your opinion on the biggest issues facing SC.1. Do you think a mosque should be allowed to be built at ground zero?YesNo2. Do you agree with our gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley that we can create jobs by cutting the income tax?YesNo3. Should the Bush tax cuts be extended?YesNo4. Do you agree with a judge’s decision to stop parts of Arizona’s immigration law from being implemented?YesNo5. Should South Carolina should pass an Arizona style immigration plan?YesNo6. Should South Carolina’s coastline be opened up for natural gas exploration?YesNo7. Do you support or oppose the federal takeover of our health care system?YesNo8. Should the state of South Carolina fight the nationalization of our health care system on the grounds that it is a violation of states’ rights?YesNo9. Our Lt Governor candidate Ken Ard wants to resturcture the way we elect our Governor and Lt Governor so that they run together on a ticket and work more hand-in-hand to create jobs for our state. Do you agree with Ken Ard?YesNoDo you think that Democratic 2nd Congressional district candidate Rob Miller should return the $370,000 he received from liberal activist group MoveOn.org?YesNo10. Should South Carolina voters replace Nancy Pelosi’s chief budget writer John Spratt with a strong conservative like State Senator Mick Mulvaney?YesNo11. What else would you like us to know today?
What gets me about these kinds of questions is that, aside from the last one they don’t allow you to answer truthfully. For so many of these questions, a “yes” or “no” answer is entirely inappropriate. But parties are about forcing people to choose “yes” or “no,” and unfortunately the MSM cooperate in rewriting our political language so that we can’t think in any other terms — which of course was the same idea behind Newspeak in 1984 — if you lack the words to think new thoughts, you can’t think them.
Here are the answers I gave, but please don’t do like the party and take them at face value. After each I am providing an answer, in italics, that tells what I REALLY think. But Karen didn’t ask for that, or provide me any way to give her that. Hence this post:
Please fill our out Summer Survey and give us your opinion on the biggest issues facing SC.
1. Do you think a mosque should be allowed to be built at ground zero? Yes. I say that only because the mosque indeed has the RIGHT to build there. And of course, that right is an important part of who we are in this country, and what we’re fighting for in the War on Terror. If the question, therefore, is should it be ALLOWED, then the answer has to be “yes.” But if you asked whether it should be built there, I’d say no. If you asked whether I think the choice of this site is a deliberate provocation of American sensibilities, I’d say I’m afraid that is likely the case, on some level — although I lack enough information to know. I find it very disturbing that the leader of this group wants America to share blame for 9/11 and refuses to say whether Hamas is a terrorist organization. And it doesn’t help a bit that Hamas endorses the plan to build there. Finally, if you ask whether I think building there represents a sincere attempt to bridge differences and heal wounds, I would say that if that’s what they truly wanted to do, they’d do it elsewhere. But in the end, do they have the right? In America, they do.
2. Do you agree with our gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley that we can create jobs by cutting the income tax? No. Can cutting a tax be part of a rational plan to stimulate the economy and thereby create jobs. Absolutely. But do I believe cutting a tax CONSTITUTES a rational plan to stimulate South Carolina’s economy, absent any plans to build physical or human infrastructure? To that, I say you’ve gotta be kidding. Bottom line, Nikki Haley doesn’t have a plan for creating jobs. She has a series of cookie-cutter GOP talking points: Cutting taxes, decreasing regulation, and privatization. That’s not a plan.
2. Should the Bush tax cuts be extended? No. Actually, I have no idea. Frankly, I’m loath to end them right now because of the condition of the economy. Any increase in the tax burden at any level, before we’ve got the economy growing again, is problematic. I never saw any need for these particular tax cuts to begin with, and had I been in Congress would likely have voted against them, as they were presented. But I’m not certain this is the time to end them. But I answered “no” because I don’t side with your party’s belief in the magical goodness of tax cuts in all circumstances, absent other measures, and I wanted you to know that.
3. Do you agree with a judge’s decision to stop parts of Arizona’s immigration law from being implemented? Yes. For the simple fact that immigration is a federal function. Yeah, I get it — your base believes it’s time for states to step in because the federal government isn’t getting the job done. I’m unpersuaded by that. I also know that the people across the political spectrum most adamant about this issue have been the main obstacle to the federal government adopting a comprehensive solution to the problem that does exist. Work on that if you want to have a constructive effect. Don’t advocate states usurping a federal function.
4. Should South Carolina should pass an Arizona style immigration plan? No. Of course not, for the reasons cited above.
5. Should South Carolina’s coastline be opened up for natural gas exploration? Yes. I said yes because that’s the Energy Party answer. We should do anything and everything, within reason, to make this country energy-independent. The objections on the left to such exploration are rigidly faith-based, like your party’s belief in the magical powers of tax cuts. It’s an article of faith that is immune to argument or circumstances. That said, my “yes” comes with a caveat — seems to me I’ve heard that the SC coast isn’t that likely a place to explore (tell me if I’m wrong on that; I can’t recall where I heard it). So let me amend my answer to say that by all means, we should explore in likely locations. If SC is a likely location, explore away.
6. Do you support or oppose the federal takeover of our health care system? Yes. Absolutely. If such a thing were proposed, I’d be all for it. That is, I’d be all for a substitution of a single payer for the insane way that we pay for health care now. Which is not the same thing as a “takeover of our health care system,” but it would come a heckuva lot closer to being that than anything that has been seriously proposed in this country, but less actually enacted. As for your implication that something that could be characterized a “federal takeover of our health care system,” that is an absurd fantasy on your part, a lie that you are trying to propagate in order to have a straw man to knock over. And there’s no way you should be allowed to get away with that. In the meantime, we need to let this feeble “reform” that Congress passed have a chance to be implemented so that we can see if it helps at all — which I doubt, but let’s give it a chance before condemning it. Your attempts to repeal it before it’s been implemented is unconscionable, because the need for some kind of change to our system is unquestionably dire.
7. Should the state of South Carolina fight the nationalization of our health care system on the grounds that it is a violation of states’ rights? No. Oh, get a life, people! How can we fight something for being something that it is NOT?
8. Our Lt Governor candidate Ken Ard wants to resturcture the way we elect our Governor and Lt Governor so that they run together on a ticket and work more hand-in-hand to create jobs for our state. Do you agree with Ken Ard? Yes. Although a better way to put it would be that Ken Ard, someone I hadn’t heard of before three or four months ago, agrees with me on something I’ve publicly advocated for almost 20 years. Not to toot my horn, but to suggest this Ard guy (who I strongly suspect to be an MSM plant because headline writers love a guy with a name that short) should get credit for the idea is patently ridiculous. If he does what the rest of us reformers have failed to do and actually gets the idea implemented, I’ll applaud. But not until then.
9. Do you think that Democratic 2nd Congressional district candidate Rob Miller should return the $370,000 he received from liberal activist group MoveOn.org? Yes. But only because I think he and Joe Wilson have both raised far too much money already to waste on their campaign, which presents voters with a no-win proposition. That’s why I say yes, not because I despise. MoveOn.org. I mean, I DO despise MoveOn.org, but that’s not my reasoning here. I just think this race is a total waste, and wish I had a better candidate than either of these guys to vote for.
10. Should South Carolina voters replace Nancy Pelosi’s chief budget writer John Spratt with a strong conservative like State Senator Mick Mulvaney? No. Give me a frickin’ break. What you meant to say, of course, was “Should 5th District voters replace the smartest and most capable guy in our House delegation, the very moderate and sensible John Spratt, with some ideologue more to our suiting?
11. What else would you like us to know today? I’d love, absolutely LOVE, a survey that sought thoughtful answers, rather than mere fodder for keeping the partisan spin machine turning.
Oh, and thank you for the opportunity, Karen. My answers were rather hasty, and not as in-depth as such complex questions demand — but they’re far more thoughtful than what you were looking for. Which is my point.