Friday, December 16, 2011

Ranking the Republicans: 1) Rick Perry

This is the seventh article in a seven-part series ranking the Republican candidates for President. You can read the past articles in the series here:
2) Rick Santorum
3) Michele Bachmann
4) Newt Gingrich
5) Jon Huntsman, Jr.
6) Mitt Romney
7) Ron Paul

Rick Perry is the top candidate in the Defense of Freedom Blog candidate rankings. I have selected Perry because of his unparalleled conservative record and experience, his record of creating jobs, and his courage to address issues of religious freedom. Rick Perry has demonstrated that he is a solid conservative on almost every issue, and it is for this reason I feel he is the best candidate to lead our nation.

As governor of Texas, Perry signed many pro-life bills. Among other legislation, he signed bills banning late-term abortions, defunding Planned Parenthood, and requiring parental consent for minors. Perry also oversaw agreements to allow licensed residents of 40 other states to carry concealed weapons in the state of Texas. Perry has also not been afraid to show his faith. His call to prayer saw 30,000 people come to Houston to join him, and it was certainly supported by many others who could not make the trip.

On the economy, Perry has a very strong record of job creation. Almost half of all net new jobs created have been in his state. Some may attribute this to other factors--such as oil--and they would be partially correct. However, there is not a single state in the nation that has enough of these "outside factors" to counteract the type of job loss our nation experienced without sound fiscal policy from the state's leaders. Furthermore, while some might argue that the governor does not create private-sector jobs, it is ironic that many of the people making that claim also supported the stimulus packages that were supposed to allow President Obama to create jobs. They cannot have it both ways: if Obama gets the credit for jobs the stimulus package supposedly created, then Perry's policies must also be given some of the credit for Texas's job creation.

Perry has also identified three pillars of big government that need to be eliminated: overtaxing, overspending, and overregulation. In Texas, Perry showed that he can accomplish the elimination of these pillars: he signed numerous tax cuts during his ten years in office, saving the residents of Texas money while also increasing revenue. His Cut, Balance, and Grow plan would help our economy experience a true recovery rather than the "slight recovery" we are now experiencing.

Perry also has a life story that stands opposed to the message Obama will be pushing during the general election. Obama has already hinted in his speeches that his message will be centered around government intervention to fix our flawed free-market system. As RedState's Erick Erickson described Perry's story, "I suspect you might agree with me that the best person to put up against a man arguing that the government should pick winners and losers is the guy who grew up dirt poor on a farm without indoor plumbing who joined the military, served his country, became a farmer, and then got into government culminating in the most impressive job creation record of any Governor in America at this time." Perry's life story speaks for itself against the campaign that Obama plans to wage.
I certainly do not agree with Perry on everything. His plan calls for a balanced budget by 2020, which would be his final year in office if elected to two terms. I understand that a balanced budget by the end of the first year may not be possible, but our nation cannot continue to use its credit card for another eight years without facing serious consequences. Slowing down the deficits would be a start, but eliminating them and using the surplus to pay down the debt must be a priority for the immediate future, not a long-term goal. I also disagree with his call for a part-time Congress. While it sounds great on the surface, the effect of it will not benefit America. A part-time Congress will make it difficult for congressmen to maintain any kind of job that would allow them to miss periods of time for legislative sessions. The net effect is that only the wealthy will be able to afford to serve in Washington.

One of the main issues that caused many conservatives to lose their faith in Perry was immigration. He opposes a fence spanning the entire border, but he does support strategic fencing in areas with heavy traffic. It is understandable why some conservatives might be opposed to Perry for his immigration stance, and there are certainly arguments against Perry's stance on these issues. However, Perry's current job is governor of the state with the longest border with Mexico. I do not think anyone could serve as governor of a border state and not understand the need to secure the border, and even though I may think there are better ways of securing it, I am willing to trust Perry's plan for border security.

Finally, Perry's debate skills and other speaking issues do cause reason for concern. However, there is also reason to reconsider this argument. Perry has performed better in more recent Republican debates, and his response to forgetting the third department he would cut shows that he has a team that can effectively deal with problems that may arise. I also believe that Perry will do better debating someone with a diametrically opposite ideology than he has done in the Republican debates. The former allows each candidate to lay out a plan for the nation, but the latter only leads to nitpicking amongst the various candidates as they try to explain the one or two small areas that make them different from each other. Even if he does not improve, I would gladly take Perry's lack of debate skill over a moderate social stance or support for individual health care mandates.

In July, I stated that I currently supported Michele Bachmann, and there were only two people who could change my mind: Mitch Daniels (who had already said he was not running) and Rick Perry. Despite all the changes in the "frontrunner" status since, I still stand by that statement. By no means is Perry the perfect candidate, but he is definitely the best candidate.

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