Sunday, October 23, 2011

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Psychological Warfare Endorsements, Wiccan Politics and More

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
October 23, 2011

A wise editor recently pointed out that political endorsements don’t really mean anything. Few if any voters, he said, actually vote for any politician because some other politician endorsed him.

That’s true. But like any political junkie, I find it fascinating to check out the ducks that candidates try to get in a row.

For months, the candidates for U.S. Senate in both parties have been flooding reporters’ email inboxes with endorsement announcements. This especially is true for Republican Heather Wilson, who started out her latest campaign with a long list of endorsements from various past and present Republican leaders.

A recent Wilson email caught my eye. The former congresswoman has picked up the support of two Republican state senators, Rod Adair of Roswell and Caroll Leavell of Jal. This means 14 of the 15 Republican state senators are supporting her. (Sen. Bill Sharer of Farmington is the lone holdout. At least so far.)

Conventional wisdom is that Wilson is employing the bandwagon effect, making it look like everyone is on board, so you should be, too. But I wonder, in the case of the state senators, whether there’s a little psychological warfare going on here.

When her main opponent, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, is presiding over the state Senate, he has to look out at a crowd of Democrats and Republicans supporting his opponent.

Casting his spell: Like failed Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, Gary Johnson is not a witch. But he did take the time last week to talk to a group of Pagan journalists at an online Google+ “Hangout” for nearly an hour and a half in his long-shot presidential bid.

Johnson talks with Wiccans
That’s right, while some of his GOP rivals at Tuesday night’s CNN debate talked about tolerating Mormons, Johnson was talking politics with the Wiccans — and one Hindu who joined in the questioning.

This group seemed to be concerned about the same kinds of things non-Pagan Americans are worried about.

Among the topics they had in mind for the former New Mexico governor were witchy, spooky, exotic topics such as taxes, campaign-finance reporting, Social Security, education funding, gay rights and corporate influence in government.

OK, there were some questions that might seem as though they came out of left field — the federal prohibition against selling raw milk across state lines and teaching yoga in public schools. (Johnson used that question as an opportunity to plug his support for “school choice” or government vouchers for private schools.)

Libertarian Johnson also talked about the separation of church and state and his own religious views, which he summed up as “Doing unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Johnson added, “I’m just going to go out on a limb here and guess you espouse that same feeling.”

The video interview is available HERE .

Keeping Occupied: Johnson also dropped in last week on another constituency that’s not traditionally Republican — the Occupy Wall Street demonstration.

Johnson said he doesn’t agree with all the points of all the protesters. “I, for one, believe everyone deserves to be heard, whether I agree with them or not. In that sense, it is a mistake to dismiss these protests, and I wanted to at least take the time to see what they are about,” he said in a news release Wednesday.

“I found one thing to be clear ... these protests are one more symptom of the anger Americans, including me, feel about an outrageous jobless rate, a government that bails out people who don’t deserve to be bailed out, and policies that have us spending billions on wars we shouldn’t be fighting, especially when we have real needs right here at home.”

(See my story on Saturday's Occupy Santa Fe rally HERE.)