Judging by our current social and economic problems, it is clear that the next President, whoever he or she might be, will not have the greatest of times running the show, and based on latest opinion polls (which as we know can change overnight) it is likely that the Republican Candidate will win if Obama is the Democratic Candidate. So Rick Perry seeking the candidacy is something we ahould be concerned about, right?.
Rick Perry is the Governor of Texas who organized “The Response”, a day of fasting and Christian prayers asking Jesus to deliver our country from the current situation. The event took place on August 6 and it was presided over by Perry. Can you spell “Separation of Church and State”?
The prospect of a Christian advocate who believes that it is OK for him to endorse officially one religion becoming President of the United States should have every member of every minority religious group running for shelter, and Jews in particular should run around yelling “Gevalt!”
It is not about Perry's party affiliation – plenty of other Republican hopefuls who did not try to demolish the wall of separation between Religion and politics are in the run. It is about this scary concept that somebody with an agenda of religious intolerance can gain the power to impose on all of us his/her own religious views. Just weeks after the petition to ban circumcision in San Francisco made the November ballots, this prospect is piling up evidence that something is going amiss in our political system.
Among the fundamental principles of American Democracy is the Separation of Church and State, that needs to be understood in the context of religious practice being a private matter for the individual while politics deal with the public domain, the Republic and its businesses. For the system to have no safeguards against candidates that question the fundamental principles enshrined in our Constitution and the Amendments seems somehow wrong...or is it?
Let me jump to the other end of the globe, to Israel. Israel is now facing a serious diplomatic threat at the United Nations, where the Palestinian leadership is seeking permission to ditch the principles that have guided Peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians since 1993, making it unnecessary for them to recognize Israel as a Jewish State (something that was a basic point in the Oslo agreements). Yet today in Israel, hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens are protesting the government's social policies which have lead to rising housing costs, rising unemployment and shrinking social support network. Should they silence their complains because of an external threat?. The fact that Israelis are free to express their concerns in massive public demonstrations at this time is in fact the living proof of the strength of Israeli democracy, and should Israel survive the current internal and external challenges (and I believe it will), it will emerge from this situation even stronger than before.
By the same token, a Presidential Candidate who advocates God's intervention to get us out of the current mess, should be seen as a healthy indicator of religious Freedom and Democracy; and America will survive it.
But while America will survive Perry as a candidate doesn't mean that the Republican Party will. If Perry becomes the Candidate, the GOP would be putting itself in a very difficult electoral position because the Country is not Texas, and most citizens will oppose his entry into the White House. But if Perry is not allow to run, or if he decides to press the issue, it could lead to a split in the Republican Party and a situation similar to Ross Perot candidacy that will effectively hand over the election to the Democrats.
Whatever happens, and however it is resolved, this situation makes me in fact happy to live in a country where this debate is possible, and not in Syria where dissent with the government equals death.