There is this persistent myth in American politics that members of the Republican party are inherently more adept at solving economic problems and more knowledgeable about business interests. The thinking behind this myth follows that because American conservatism requires being slavishly devoted to the accumulation of individual wealth, that they must contain some sort of esoteric secret necessary to attain financial independence. This concept of Republican mastery of economics is obviously and demonstrably wrong in every way possible, but it persists mainly due to this seemingly logical political inference.
A similar misconception holds that since a government acts as an organized body that both takes in revenue and spends money on certain projects that a person with experience in managing a business would be best suited for the job. This idea is also wrong as it relies on a terrible false equivalency argument that any person with even a small level of analytical ability should be able to recognize. The political and economic responsibilities associated with these bodies are simply too different to conflate in some ham-handed campaign flyer.
A government relies on promoting the interests of all people within its jurisdiction, and not just generating profits for shareholders. This means that simply “cutting costs” or “reducing debt” (i.e. firing people and other austerity measures) for a government in an era of weak private sector demand inevitably results in a continuation of an awful economic situation. Another distinction includes the fact that a government cannot “fail” in the same way that a business can undergo bankruptcy (a process which is managed by the government, by the way). Given these facts, someone who campaigns on their “small business experience” as a qualifying attribute for a successful career as a public servant really must demonstrate that they understand these major differences.
But the most important difference between a government–especially a legislature–and a business in this country is that our government is ultimately representative of and responsible to the individual citizens who vote those people into office. This democratic check on governmental power in the form of the rule of law is the most important issue for an individual wishing to hold political office to understand. When a politician instead decides that their power is something that exits to serve those who pay them the most, the entire concept of a representative constitutional democracy is completely degraded.
And with that long introduction establishing what a proper politician should understand before seeking office, may I present current the Republican contender for the 47th Congressional District, Gary DeLong:
Delong, as far as anyone can determine, is a completely bland and at least tacitly inoffensive candidate. Up until this point, Delong has yet to do anything of note in his short time in public service, nor has he actually taken a stance on any major legislative issue other than the Affordable Care Act (which we’ll get to in a second). Instead, Delong has been consistent in appearing unremarkable in every way possible. Delong’s path to victory requires that voters will apathetically choose to align themselves with his vague proclamations for “small government” or “growth,” send him to congress, and then hope that he does not do something overtly stupid. Frankly, we could do better.
A person looking on the web to assist in their decision on who to vote for might have some trouble determining an actual policy platform for Mr. Delong. Whether one is researching his Wikipedia page (which his campaign wrote by copy and pasting sections from his official website) or his campaign site, it is amazing to see the lengths to which the GOP candidate will go to avoid saying “I am for this” or “I am against this.” While some might find it refreshing that Delong is avoiding being “partisan,” it must be said that this sort of indifference is incredibly dangerous. In reality Delong’s decision to remain neutral on everything is a deliberate attempt to weasel his way into office whereby he can assist in being the torchbearer of an extremist agenda that is damaging to both Long Beach and the nation as a whole.
In examining Delong’s qualifications for Congress, lets first ask if you recognize this financial juggernaut?
This is the home of the RTP group, the “small business” Gary Delong insists provides him the wherewithal to act as an effective congressman for well over half a million people. Check out their website. Can you tell how successful the business is in doing whatever it is that the group supposedly does? Of course you can’t. Furthermore, how many people actually work here? It is hard to call yourself a “job creator” when you are someone who made his wealth through the cryptic and deliberately shady world of private contracting business consulting. Furthermore, declaring that this model is the type of economic practice that you would like to extend to a major metropolitan area is not just impractical or naive, it is simply stupid and possibly malicious. Consequently, this biographical achievement for Delong is more noteworthy than his other venture inside the scandal-plagued and mismanaged Security Pacific Bank, which is now completely owned by Bank of America.
Delong’s “priorities” section on his website is a comedy of errors in terms of defining the candidate’s principles or his capability to exist as a congressman. He lists our “unsustainable national debt” as a major problem for future growth, and yet laughably believes that “balancing the budget” through spending cuts will magically result in debt reduction. He ignores the currently developing (and horrible) consequences of our prolonged austerity-minded governmental policy, and then in the same breath talks about the need to “invest” more in our public education system–apparently by generating public revenue through divine intervention after reducing the tax burden on “job creators.”
Delong also believes in “market based” healthcare reforms, specifically saying that:
We need to allow small businesses to pool together to purchase health insurance, give people the opportunity to purchase insurance across state lines, take their insurance with them if they leave their jobs, and expand health savings accounts.
This conservative path to salvation might seem nice, until you take into account the findings of someone who actually knows what they are talking about, like Ezra Klein:
Now, this is a big Republican idea here and we should go through it real quick. Right now, your state regulates the insurance you can buy. If Aetna doesn`t follow the rules you lay down by the people you elected to represent you in the legislature and the governor’s mansion, they can`t sell in your state.
But that is not how all markets for all products work. If you ever notice how your credit card bills come from South Dakota or Delaware, it`s because credit card companies can sell across state lines. And so, they cut deals with South Dakota and Delaware in which those states gave them very, very, very lax regulatory environments and the credit card companies put their headquarters there.
So, all Aetna would have to do is follow the rules in whichever state they wanted which would be whichever state had the fewest rules. So, classic race to the bottom. ….
Look, whether you like the changes or you hate them, they`re not big reforms. They`re tweaks. They are adjustments. They are small, tiny changes to the existing law. And they`d have a small effect. The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan number crunchers in Congress, ran the numbers on the Republican proposal. And they estimated that by 2019, it would have covered, wait for it, 3 million uninsured people. That`s compared to the Affordable Care Act`s 30-plus million.
Delong is completely misinformed about both the economy and healthcare. The rest of his website consists of generic praise for the troops, faint praise for energy development, and a recognition for the need to improve “transportation” (with no other discussion of other forms of infrastructure development). All of these listed items are important to Delong, yet when coupled with his Grover Norquist-styled anti-debt screed it is hard to tell exactly how these “priorities” will receive necessary levels of funding in the new “painful” society envisioned by Delong.
Complexity, or even just basic problem solving, seems to be something that has continually alluded Delong throughout his campaign. When he faced serious accusations that he abused his position on the Long Beach City Council to use publicly funded resources for his congressional campaign, he just refused to answer if he had indeed broken the law. When a heated dispute arose concerning the possibly racially motivated removal of bus services from racially diverse Long Beach into a white area of Seal Beach, Delong’s main concern was that the public knew that he had no power to effect a change in bus policy. If a person wanted to base their opinion of Delong on his record as a city councilman, they would have little to go on. He has implemented no major initiatives and has no accomplishments to speak of in his six years in that position.
So what sort of congressman would Delong actually be? Well, one clue might be how proud his campaign is of being named a “GOP Young Gun” this year. The “Young Gun” program is an organization founded by Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, the national architects of the current extremist conservative congressional agenda and the masterminds behind the Republican-lead obstruction of necessary federal legislation. These are the people behind the lack of job bills in the house, the debt celling debacle, and the never-ending attacks on women’s healthcare. Delong might want to appear to be a moderate republican, but he is accepting political support and financial resources from the most retrograde and extreme wing of his party.
This issue of Delong being a “Young Gun,” while refusing to take a firm stance on any particular issues in this campaign, is demonstrative of the Republican contempt for public service and the role of government. Grover Norquist, the spiritual leader of the Republican Party, described what Republicans should seek in attaining political power this fall:
We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.
Creating a conservative movement remains the ultimate goal of the Republican Party in this year’s election, and Delong has been more than happy to align himself with the most extreme members of that same movement. He is doing this because he is aware of the personal rewards that come with elevating corporate interests under the auspices of congressional power. Delong knows that his election as a congressman would allow the wealthy backers of the Republican Party to have yet another conduit through which they can use policy to better their own bottom lines. Delong is willing to associate with these people despite the fact that the budget they are promoting from Congressman Ryan has been described by commentators as “ludicrous and cruel,” “a cowardly political joke,” and even “thinly-veiled Social Darwinism” by the President.
Unfortunately, Delong is also aware of the limited attention span for most voters, and he is banking on their collective apathy in discerning his legislative agenda. Perhaps it is time that we call him out on this issue. His current campaign demonstrates that Delong is ignorant, naive, or corrupt- and any of those characteristics would make for a disasterous choice this November.