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For a long time I could not understand why so many Christians in America favoured the Republicans over the Democrats. The Republicans, after all, were for the rich and the military while the Democrats were for the poor and the common man. It was hard for me to imagine Jesus siding with the generals and the moneymen against the man in the street.

But in those days I did not believe in God. I did not call myself a Marxist, but that is what I was. What Marx said just seemed like common sense to me. But later I read the Bible all the way through and, after a few years of failing to explain it away, I became a Christian myself.

Then suddenly it made sense to me why so many Christians voted Republican: it pretty much came down to abortion and moral issues like that. Republicans represent the old Christian morals, more or less, while the Democrats were for things like abortion, gays and keeping prayer out of schools.

The ends do not justify the means. So no amount good deeds by the government can make up for its support for abortion. Just like no amount of good deeds by the government could make up for its support for slavery.

And so millions of ordinary Americans wind up supporting the party of the rich. They find themselves siding with the generals and the moneymen against the man in the street – against themselves!

In the 1980s and 1990s the Democratic party lost the support of most white Southerners and serious Catholics. The Democrats – well some Democrats – said it was because of racism. But given the timing of the white flight it seemed abortion not racism was more to blame. Besides, racism could not explain why serious Catholics left but the not-so-serious ones remained. But abortion could explain it. (“Serious” in this case means those who go to church every week – just because it is easier to measure it that way.)

The feeling I get about the people at the top of the Democratic party is that they do not take the Bible and religion seriously. They think that stuff is for those who do not know any better. They know better.

So, just like 14-year-olds who think they know better than their parents, they throw out what God or the Bible or thousands of years of human wisdom say and make up their own morals.

Their approach to the Constitution is the same as their approach to the Bible: they think they know better than the wisdom of their forefathers and so they read it the way that suits them. They call that progress.

But in doing this they are losing touch with ordinary people, people who still believe in the Bible, God and hell. They have already lost most of the white Christian vote. In 2004 it seems they were starting to lose even the black Christian vote.

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Sarah Palin (1964- ) is the governor of the state of Alaska and John McCain’s pick for Republican vice president for 2008. She is part of the Christian right and once supported Pat Buchanan on the far right.

McCain’s choice was so surprising that some wonder about his judgement. It seems like a cheap, desperate move. It is either that or a bold and brave master stroke. Only time will tell.

The choice is not quite as desperate as it might seem at first sight. Of all the Republican governors she is the most beloved by her citizens: she cuts taxes and cleans up government. She stands up to the bad apples even in her own party and gets them kicked out.

She has courage and faith in God. Instead of working all the angles and playing the game, like a Hillary Clinton, she looks at it this way:

I believe everything happens for a purpose. In my own personal life, if I dedicated back to my Creator what I’m trying to create for the good . . . everything will turn out fine.

Like most Republican voters she is a regular church-going Christian who believs in old-time Christian morals. She is a Pentecostal Christian (Assemblies of God) who is against same-sex marriage and abortion. She has said  creationism should be taught in schools.

If the 2008 election comes down to voter turn-out, as it looks like it will, then McCain needs a vice president that the Christian right can go wild for.

Palin’s main drawback is her lack of experience. She has even less of it than Obama. Which seems to destroy McCain’s main argument against him.

She grew up in Alaska hunting moose with her father and used to work with her husband in his fishing boat. As a hunter she is a strong supporter of gun rights.

Her husband has worked for BP, one of the three big oil companies in Alaska. She is for pumping all the oil out of ANWR, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, a vast untouched piece of wilderness in Alaska.

She has five children:

  • 1989: Track, joined the army on September 11th 2007. He will soon be in Iraq.
  • 1990: Bristol, pregnant but intends to marry the father.
  • 1995: Willow, a girl
  • 2001: Piper Indy, a girl
  • 2008: Trig, a boy. When Palin was four-months pregnant she knew he would be born with Down syndrome.

The daughter of schoolteachers, she is from Wasilla, a town north of Anchorage:

  • In high school she led its basketball team to state-wide victory, getting the name Sarah Barracuda.
  • In 1984 she was crowned the town’s beauty queen, and almost became Miss Alaska (she came in second).
  • In 1996 she became its mayor.

After her two terms as mayor, ending in 2002, she went on to become the state’s regulator of the oil and gas industry and then, in December 2006, the governor, defeating men with bigger names and bigger money.

Of past presidents she seems most like Harry Truman.

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Amy Holmes (1973- ) is CNN’s most beautiful talking head, putting a pretty black face to the Republican party line. She started with CNN in 2007. She has also been on Fox News, “Real Time with Bill Maher”, “The View” and BET. She would like to become the next Charlie Rose

She has beautiful eyes I could look at forever! I probably only hear half of what she says!

It is not just me, either: Rosie O’Donnell says she is “very pretty”.

On CNN she talks like a Republican, being careful to savage Barack Obama. But on “The View” she told us she is an independent who is for abortion.

She was born in Africa in Zambia to a black man and a white American mother. Her parents broke up when she was three and her mother came back with her to America, where she grew up in Seattle.

Like Michelle Obama she went to Princeton University, but unlike her she felt at home there. She studied economics. She says it helped her to learn how to think. In those days she was a Democrat, did not eat meat, worked for animal rights and voted for Bill Clinton.

After Princeton she went to work in the music industry in Seattle, but missed the East Coast. She wanted to move to New York, but wound up in Washington, DC where a friend of hers lived. That was in October 1995.

There she started reading right-wing magazines like the National Review, which she read at Starbucks hiding it inside a copy of the left-wing New Republic. One thing led to another and she wound up working for Arianna Huffington.

After only two months in Washington her picture was in the Washington Post as a young new face of the black right-wing! That brought her to the attention of television producers. In time that got her on MSNBC, Fox News and BET.

From 1996 to 1998 she worked for the Independent Women’s Forum, a right-wing think tank.

From 1999 to 2001 she wrote a monthly column for USA Today. She has also written for the Washington Post and the National Review – the magazine she used to hide at Starbucks!

In 2002 she had her own show on BET, “Lead Story”.

From 2003 to 2006 she was a speech writer for Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee. She told him she was for abortion and not against same-sex marriage, but he hired her anyway.

Some say her right-wing views are not heart-felt but just a way to get on television.

Her Republicanism seems more white and north-eastern than black: she is more like Giuliani, say, than Alan Keyes or Condoleezza Rice, whose Republicanism has a strong moral element.

She has a long history of dating the Jewish people, as she puts it. She does not seem to be Jewish herself: she celebrates Christmas. Not that that necessarily proves anything.

Some of the men she has dated were much older than her: Mickey Kaus and Lloyd Grove are both old enough to be her father.

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John McCain

John McCain (1936- ) is a senator from the south-western American state of Arizona. He ran for president in 2000 and is running again in the 2008 election. He is a Republican.

In 2000 Bush ran to the right of him and got the vote of the Christian right. Of the top Republican candidates in 2008 Giuliani and Romney are both running to his left, only Huckabee is to the right.

Huckabee cannot begin to match McCain in experience of military and foreign affairs – but then the same was true of Bush in 2000.

Bush won and then made a mess of the war in Iraq. From the very beginning McCain said Bush did not have enough troops. And McCain kept on saying it. It took almost four years for Bush to see his mistake and put in more troops.

McCain is the only one running who has been right about Iraq all along – other than perhaps Obama, who said – before the war – that it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place.

McCain’s grandfather was an admiral. He commanded the carriers of the Pacific Ocean during the Second World War. His father was an admiral too. He commanded all the ships of the Pacific during the Vietnam war.

In that war McCain flew jets for the Navy. In October 1967 he was shot down on his way to bomb a power plant in Hanoi. He broke both arms and one leg and fell into enemy hands. He was taken prisoner to the Hanoi Hilton, a hell on earth.

He was a prisoner there for five years. Two of them he spent in a dark cell. Twice he tried to hang himself. The guards saved his life – and then beat him up.

When the North Vietnamese found out who his father was they offered to let him go. He thought about it but said no.

When the war ended he came back home and had to learn to walk again. For a long time he could not raise his arms above his head.

In the early 1980s he retired from the Navy with the rank of captain and stood for office. He was in the House from 1983 to 1987 and in the Senate since then.

Some of the rank and file Republicans do not like him because he sometimes votes against the party. Like on immigration, global warming and campaign finance reform. That is why they call him a maverick.

He is against abortion and same-sex marriage, but he is for stem cell research and for each state making its own laws on marriage (as they have always done).

He divorced his first wife, a model, and married a woman almost half his age. Her father was one of the richest men in Arizona.

The infamous Keating Five once gave him money to stand for office, which is probably why he got religion on campaign finance reform later.

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Willard Mitt Romney (1947- ) was governor of the American state of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. He ran for president in the 2008 election, but dropped out on February 7th right after Super Tuesday. He is a Republican.

As a governor, and earlier as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and a Boston businessman, he has proved he is a leader who can get things done, who is at his best when things go bad.

But he does not seem to stand for anything. He knows what Americans think and mouths all the right words, but none of it seems to come from his heart.

For example, when he was governor he passed a gun control law. But in 2006, just before he ran from president, he joined the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has blocked serious gun laws for years.

His positions on abortion and homosexuals have likewise “evolved” to match opinion in the Republican party.

The two main wings of the Republican party are business and the Christian right. He is good with business: he was a rich businessman himself as well as a model Republican governor who balanced the state’s books without raising taxes. He wants to keep the Bush tax cut and has proved he can cut out government fat.

With the Christian right things are not so simple. He is Mormon. Some say Mormons are not true Christians: they believe some strange things. Because of some of the wilder Mormon offshoots, many fear that they still secretly have many wives. Most would sooner vote for a Jew for president than for a Mormon.

Some fear that Romney would take orders from the church leadership in Salt Lake City. But this fear is probably overblown, just as was the fear that John Kennedy would take orders from the pope in Rome.

But Romney has a particular bit of bad luck when it comes to religion: he is running against a one-time Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee, who has been winning over his support from the Christian right.

If the Romney name seems familiar somehow you are probably thinking of his father. He was governor of Michigan as well as the head of American Motors and President Nixon’s housing secretary. He even ran for president himself in 1968.

As many young Mormon men do, Mitt Romney fished for souls in his youth. He did this in France in the late 1960s. He only caught a few, but it kept him out of serving in the Vietnam war.

He went on to get degrees in both business and law from Harvard. In 1984 he founded Bain Capital, which came to own Staples, Domino’s Pizza, FTD Florists and hundreds of other companies. It made him rich.

As governor he made sure everyone had health insurance and did it without a tax increase or bigger government.

Last updated: Thu Feb 7 23:56:52 UTC 2008

Epilogue: In 2012 Romney became the Republican challenger to President Obama. He ran hard right to get the nomination but then, suddenly, a month before the election, during the first debate against Obama, disowned those positions as if he had never held them and ran centre-right. More.

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Mike Huckabee (1955- ) was governor of the American state of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. Time magazine said he was one of the country’s five best governors. He is now running for president in the 2008 election.

In December 2007 he was second only to Rudy Giuliani among Republicans in nationwide opinion polls.

In January 2008 he fell to a weak third place. Although Giuliani dropped out, both Romney and McCain passed him by. By the end of the month he was falling badly behind.

Although he comes from a small state and has little money, he is favoured by the Christian right, one of the two main wings of the Republican party. He was once a Christian minister and speaks in the moral absolutes that the Christian right loves. Unlike anyone else running he is not afraid to say he believes in God and the Bible.

That is hardly an extreme position: most Americans believe in God and the Bible. Yet you do not hear the other candidates saying it because they live too much in the world of the white liberal north-east where it is bad manners to openly express your Christian beliefs.

And that is Huckabee’s secret weapon: he lives near the middle of the country and thinks more like most Americans. Only Obama comes close to him on that.

Because the press lives in that same liberal north-east world, Huckabee is bound to surprise them.

From a Republican point of view, although Huckabee is good on moral issues, he is bad on taxes.

Huckabee is not so much a Republican as what used to be called a Southern Democrat: they wanted to use government to help people but had old-fashioned ideas about morals. It was the Democratic party’s hard stand on abortion in the 1980s and 1990s that pushed them and much of the South into the Republican party.

When Huckabee was governor of Arkansas he cut taxes but he raised them too. He poured new taxes into education and health.

Huckabee wants to get rid of the income tax and put a nationwide sales tax in its place.

Huckabee is squarely against abortion and same-sex marriage, always has been. He thinks creationism should be taught in schools in addition to Darwin’s evolution.

Religion is so much a part of how he sees the world that he cannot separate it from his policy decisions. He was a Southern Baptist minister in Arkansas in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He is for making it hard for foreigners to come to America, but he is for helping those who are already here.

He is for the war in Iraq. But he has no foreign policy experience and his views on these things are a big unknown. The same was true of Bush in 2000, but that was before 9/11 when the world seemed quiet. His lack of experience proved costly.

Last updated: Wed Jan 30 13:18:48 UTC 2008

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Rudolph Giuliani (1944- ), also known as just Rudy, was the mayor of New York during 9/11. The leadership he showed at that terrible time made him world famous. He was mayor from 1994 to 2001. He ran for president in the 2008 election, but dropped out after losing in Florida on January 29th.

In December 2007 he was the top Republican in the Gallup poll. Only once in the past 30 years did the Republican who led in December not become the Republican who ran the following November. But Giuliani threw away his lead by not entering the early state races in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina.

(On the Democratic side the December poll means nothing. Remember Gary Hart and Bill Bradley?)

Giuliani made his stand in Florida. It was too little too late: during January 2008 McCain, Huckabee and Romney had passed him by.

When he lost Florida he dropped out of the race and threw his support behind McCain.

Giuliani has the makings of a good if not a great president, but half his party does not like him. The Republicans have two main wings: business, which provides much of the money, and the Christian right, which provides much of the vote. Bush belonged to both wings, Giuliani only to one.

His three wives:

  1. Regina Peruggi, 1968-1982
  2. Donna Hanover, 1984-2002
  3. Judi Ann “Judith” Stish, 2003-

On 9/11 the two tallest buildings in New York were struck down by Al Qaeda and nearly 3000 died. Giuliani showed leadership and courage. Unlike the president at the time and unlike the mayor of New Orleans four years later when Katrina struck his city.

Giuliani is not one to give into circumstances. In his term as mayor he cut crime in half, making the city liveable once again. Most people had accepted crime as a fact of life in the city. Not Giuliani.

Giuliani backed the police all the way, even to the point of turning a blind eye to things like shooting an unarmed man 19 times (Amadou Diallo). The police started arresting people for even small things, like not crossing the street at the corner. That was his policy of zero tolerance. Giuliani wanted the law to be respected – or at least feared.

The crime rate dropped by half and the murder rate even further. Experts in the late 1980s said that crime in New York would drop in the 1990s as the Crack Epidemic burned itself out, but not by that much. It became the safest large city in the country.

Giuliani also balanced the city’s books. And he helped the poor to find work so that half of the million people who lived on government money were able to support themselves.

In the 1980s he was the US Attorney for southern Manhattan. He became famous in the city by putting underworld crime figures in prison as well as insider traders on Wall Street, like Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky.

Last updated: Wed Jan 30 13:00:09 UTC 2008

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