Rick Perry Needs To Make Up His Mind

September 19, 2011
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By all accounts, Texas Governor Rick Perry is the leading candidate in the GOP field. There’s still plenty of time for that to change, and I hope it does. Here’s why: The man can’t seem to make up his mind on the important issue of personal liberty. This, from my understanding, is a key element of the Tea Party movement and the Libertarian party among others. Government should be smaller, because it doesn’t need to spend so much time and money on telling people what they can and can’t do.

By all accounts, Texas Governor Rick Perry is the leading candidate in the GOP field. There’s still plenty of time for that to change, and I hope it does. Here’s why: The man can’t seem to make up his mind on the important issue of personal liberty. This, from my understanding, is a key element of the Tea Party movement and the Libertarian party among others. Government should be smaller, because it doesn’t need to spend so much time and money on telling people what they can and can’t do. The mantra seems to be something like: As long as my actions don’t harm someone else, I should be completely free to do whatever I wish (e.g., in the privacy of my own home).

That’s a sentiment that, while not without some failings, I can understand. Heck, in many instances, I wholeheartedly support it. Perry, however, has decided to waffle on this issue. In fact, he downright contradicts his own ideology. The two competing points are these: On the one hand, Perry cries out against health reform and calls the individual mandate “unconstitutional.” That makes sense if you are of the small government, personal liberty and individual responsibility camp. Well, at least insofar you don’t acknowledge the ways in which others may be harmed by your choice to forgo insurance and seek free care later. On the other hand, Perry issued an executive order mandating that all young girls in Texas be given the HPV vaccine, which can protect against cervical cancer. That, from the liberty and personal responsibility stance, makes no sense. Shouldn’t the girls–or their parents or legal guardians–be the ones to make that choice? Perry says he passed the HPV vaccine mandate to save lives and cut cancer treatment costs, but saving lives and cutting costs is precisely what health reform–through the individual mandate–is designed to do. Curious, no?

Note: This post was inspired by an excellent article written by Slate’s William Saletan. That article–which I recommend–is located here.