Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: Election in hands of rich as extremists mobilise

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Protesters voiced their concerns outside the Republican Party convention. Photo / AP
Protesters voiced their concerns outside the Republican Party convention. Photo / AP

Watching the United States Republican Party convention this week, it dawned on me that Mitt Romney might well beat Barack Obama in November.

The base of the Republican Party appear to be complete fruit loops. Until now I thought it was inconceivable that their charlatan presidential candidate would have any chance of defeating Obama. On every objective political and personal measure, Obama should romp home.

But in the US, the right-wing are just rabid. The Tea Party movement that infects the Republican Party, which is secretly funded by billionaires, comprises a combination of religious fundamentalists, racists and bigots.

Many Republicans, despite evidence to the contrary, seriously believe that Obama was not born in the US and should therefore be ineligible to be president.

I can only assume it's because they can't stand a black man sitting in the White House.

But those thinkers aren't just fringe. They've taken over the party. They have systematically deselected their moderates. Even reliable hard right-wingers have been dumped because some other nutbar was prepared to be even more extreme.

All Republican candidates kowtow to the extremists. At their convention they voted for no abortion for women, even for rape or incest victims. Romney fudges his position but his vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, is the leader of the anti-abortion movement.

A fortnight ago, a majority of the Republican-controlled Congress voted to prevent incest or rape victims in the District of Columbia having access to abortion. If the Republicans win, you can bet a woman's right to control her body in the US is over.

Despite gun massacres by mentally disturbed individuals, this party insists that anyone can freely buy machine guns. They really believe that if everyone was armed then when a nut starts spraying bullets in a room of people, then they'll all be able to shoot back.

Last week two New York cops shot a guy who'd killed someone. Nine bystanders were shot, too - all by the cops. Imagine when every citizen gets to join in a firestorm.

Every Republican politician claims to be a staunch Christian. Romney, as a Mormon, would seriously have us believe that a man thought by many to be a fraudster, Joseph Smith, was tapped by God to create a uniquely American religion. The Garden of Eden was in Missouri, Smith believed. Smith's beliefs seem like harmless nuttiness these days, but when the church's leaders compelled their flock to hand over their teenage daughters to their harems, even the dimmest could have worked out the real agenda - and that was back in the early 1800s.

Ryan is more Catholic than the Pope. He was reported recently to have said that he believed that Jesus' mother's physical body was elevated directly to heaven.

Neither of these guys believe in evolution and keep a straight face when claiming the world was created by God just a few thousand years ago.

Their economic policy narrows down to cutting taxes for the rich, cutting education and healthcare for the poor, and increasing the military budget so they can keep invading other countries.

Anyone who has even had a cursory glance says their policy will bankrupt the country and endanger the world.

Yet the media promote them as serious thinkers. At the convention, former presidential candidate John McCain named six more countries the US could invade, to applause.

Something evil is happening in the US. This election is going to be stolen from the people and handed to the obese, wealthy and the crazy.

American law allows corporates to donate unlimited amounts of money to politics. The far-right Koch brothers alone are putting up nearly US$200 million ($250 million).

The strategy is to use the Tea Party as their foot soldiers, book wall-to-wall advertising to tell bold-face lies, build the best voter turnout their machinery and money can buy, and, in many states where Republicans control, they have changed election laws which will disfranchise millions of Democratic voters.

The wealthy and the deluded may take control of the world's most powerful country. The rest of us should tremble.


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- Herald on Sunday

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