Meet Sydney Hay, Republican Lobbyist and Ideologue Seeking to Fill Tricky Dick Renzi’s Purloined Shoes

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Mining industry lobbyist and candidate for Congress in CD 1, Sydney Hay put together a very nice introductory video for her campaign. It illustrates very clearly why the GOP won’t manage to hang on to CD 1: they are absolutely bereft of ideas.

Hay’s campaign looks like it was cobbled together out of most extreme rantings and wacky policies of the Right over the past 20 years, the dissicated corpses of Reagan and Goldwater, and the most disingenuous and empty rhetoric the Right has fallen back on in defense of the massive failures of the Bush years, all held together by a ‘values’ appeal that already passé among evangelicals and fundamentalists, let alone the general public.

You can always tell when a social movement is effectively dead by how nostalgic its members become about a claimed Golden Age. In the case of the Conservative Movement, their necromantic rites centering around Reagan and Goldwater are increasingly elaborate, central to their religion, and frankly pitiful.

Sure, we Democrats have our culture heroes—FDR, JRK, RFK, MLK—but we aren’t nearly so strident about hearkening back to their particular strain of liberalism as a lost Golden Age that we must return to, and to which our politicians must pay obsequious obescience.

That’s because Liberalism is alive and kicking and growing. Conservatism is a dead and discredited credo, destroyed by Bush and the Republican Congress of 1994-2006, now seeking a leader who can revivify it with a fresh perspective and newly invigorated values. That leader doesn’t seem to be Sydney Hay—she’s too ideologically rigid to acknowledge any new ideas.

I was really amused by the enthusiastic and detailed endorsement by Arizona Republican Congressman Trent Franks. Since the incumbent is in the dock, Renzi can’t exactly pass the establishment torch, so Trent from next door is pinch-hitting. It should prove amusing to watch the Republican candidates in CD 1 madly scramble to avoid any association with Renzi.

Trent credits Sydney with a number of key accomplishments. He indicates she lead the campaign to require a super-majority for any tax increase in Arizona. The result has been to ratchet down tax rates permanently, destroying the Arizona state government’s ability to fund essential services. Trent tells us that Sydney, a former teacher, also was largely responsible for the failed experiment of charter schools, and for diverting taxes to private and parochial schools.

Polices Sydney claims credit for have over the last two decades been largely responsible for Arizona’s free-fall to nearly the bottom among U.S. states in almost every educational metric. With accomplishments like these in her past, electing her to office is sure to result in policies that will make us even more backward, poor, and uncompetitive.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the ‘ideas’ Sydney wants to take to Congress…

National Security:

Sydney trots out that mindless sound bite one hears frequently in
Conservative circles that "border security is national security." This
merely seeks to justify Conservative obsession with undocumented
immigration and workers by conflating it with a real national priority.
Border security is actually a very small and fairly unimportant aspect
of national security in our globalized world.

There are many more grave and immediately threats that need immediate attention: nuclear proliferation and materials control, global climate change, pandemic diseases, and policing international terrorism, to name just a few. Those who use this
cynical incantation merely demonstrate just how anachronistic the Conservative
view of security has become.

Sydney utters a few vague homilies about Iraq in her video, and
doesn’t even mention it under national security on her web site. It’s
as if one of the central challenges of national security policy has
conveniently been eliminated from her campaign.

What does Sydney say about the Iraq war? We are there now,
regardless of what one thinks about how we got there. Defeat is not an
option. Our troops need equipment and training and a strategy to win
and Iraqi politicians need to step up.

Give me a break.

How we got there informs the entire credibility of her Party on our
policy going forward. No matter how bad it is, they can’t admit a
mistake and therefore can’t effectively address what we must do in Iraq.

It was her Party that denied our troops the equipment she says they
needed. And no amount of training can make an impossible mission
possible. Her Party’s strategy consists of sitting in a country in the
midst of a slow-rolling civil war waiting to get shot, hoping for the
best and lying to the public to stall for time. Every military mind
with a speck of credibility left, including General Petraeus, concedes
that there is no military strategy for victory in Iraq. So what
strategy for victory is Sydney proposing? I’m sure the world would love
to hear it.

She’s right that defeat is not an option; it is a fact. We’ve already won any
military victories that were to be had, and Bush lost the war. The only issue
now is how to best salvage the situation diplomatically, politically,
and in humanitarian terms.

Any wanna-be Congresscritter has to have at least a modicum of credibility on Iraq. Sydney has none.

Economic Issues:

In the midst of the biggest deficits in history, a massive and
persistent trade imbalance, a plummeting dollar, and a collapsing
housing bubble that is taking billios of a American families’ wealth
with it, what are Sydney’s economic priorities?

Killing the Estate Tax—which she calls the Death Tax, and I call the
Dynasty Tax or the Paris Hilton Tax—is her first issue. She trots out
the discredited excuse that we need to eliminate this tax because it
affects family farms and small businesses. To the extent that the
Estate Tax actually does affect such concerns, which isn’t much, one
can remedy any impact on such family holdings without eliminating the
tax.

The reason Sydney and many other movement Conservatives hate this
tax is because the wealthiest 0.01% of Americans want the hundreds of
billion dollar windfall that elimination of the tax would confer upon
them. There is no more elitist, plutocratic, and blatantly iniquitous
cause in modern American politics, and it’s Sydney’s absolute top
economic priority. I can’t think of a better example of how
out-of-touch with the needs of average Americans the GOP has become.

If there is one cause more sure to bring out the ideological nut bags
than elimination of the Dynasty Tax, it is elimination of the Income
Tax. And, of course, that’s Sydney’s second economic priority.

Sydney
does not specify how to replace the hundreds of billions in revenue
elimination of the Dynasty Tax and Income Tax would cost, because,
presumably, she wouldn’t.

That’s fine. But then it would only be honest to indicate what
government spending one would cut to balance the budget: but she
doesn’t. I guess it’s unlimited deficits as far as the eye can see with
Sydney in charge. Becasue, after all—according to Dick Cheney—deficits don’t matter.

I suppose the likely target for such massive cuts would have to
focus on line items fat enough to actually make that much of a
difference. There are really only three places you can cut hundreds of
billions from the federal budget; defense, interest payments, and
entitlements. Or you could, I suppose, simply eliminate EVERYTHING else. Good luck with that.

Republicans like Sydney would would mire us in our current wars and
probably gladly start yet more, but they wouldn’t touch the defense budget. That’s out.

Presumably she would also not default on the national debt, although I wouldn’t put it past her. That’s (probably) out.

So, the only possible object of her red-pencil is
entitlements. Cutting (or privatizing?) Social Security, Medicare, and
Medicaid is the only way to sufficiently slash the federal budget to
accommodate elimination of the Dynasty and Income Taxes. But, of
course, Sydney isn’t willing to tell you that. She wants you to believe
that the money fairy will pay for everything when her Party is done
stripping the federal government of revenue.

Education:

This is one of Sydney’s most detailed policy statements. She obviously
will be leaning heavily on her history of educational policy activism.
I think my friend David Safier will take a closer look at Sydney’s
educational policies soon. I’m looking forward to it.

I would just point out that if your think Arizona’s educational
system is a model for anyone, then maybe Sydney is your girl. Sydney
wants to take our catastrophe up to D.C. and use it as a model
for the nation. The result will be fat and sassy edu-corps feeding off
the public trough, and an utter failure to address any of our educational
system’s real problems. About the only good thing I can see in Sydney’s
educational policies is her suggestion that we might opt out of ‘No Child Left Behind.’

Health Care:

Sydney is absolutely devoid of any but the standard GOP homilies
about patient involvement, Heath Savings Accounts, and further reliance
on naive market solutions that have proven to be ruinously costly,
inefficient, and harmful to the health of Americans.

In essence, her prescription for health care is to do nothing until
the patient is bled dry by the leeches feeding off him. "No person, no problem," as Stalin used to say.

The American
people believe basic health care is a right, not a commodity. They want
coverage to be universal, not based only on ability to pay. They want a
health care system that actually cares for patient outcomes, not just
insurance companies’ bottom lines. Sydney isn’t even pretending to be
willing to deliver any such thing.

Her only idea is more of the same. More profiteering at the expense of
Americans’ health. More undermining injured patients’ right to access
the court system. More  half-measures that leave millions of Americans
without care or coverage. In this regard, she is certainly no different
than the rest of her Party, even as American businesses are beginning
to realize that the lack of a universal system of health care is
becoming a major competitive disadvantage. Pity the Party that ignores its own constituency.

Government Reform:

This is one area where I have something good to say about Sydney:
she supports earmark reform and is one of the few Congressional
candidates to have taken the Citizens Against Government Waste pledge to limit them.

I think that’s great, and it’s certainly part of the solution for
preventing much of the corruption our Congress is heir to. She should
go the rest of the way and sign Lawrence Lessig’s Change Congress pledge.

To truly reform the reasons Congress has repeatedly failed us requires more than just earmark reform. Members and candidates must:

  1. Decline to accept money from lobbyists and PACs (I guess this means Sydney can’t take money from herself!)
  2. Vote to end earmarks (not just limit and conditionalize them as CAGW’s pedge demands)
  3. Support publicly financed campaigns (it certainly hasn’t hurt conservatives here in Arizona, though they constantly bemoan it)
  4. Support reforms to increase Congressional transparency

One thing candidates should certainly not do, is promise to violate the constitution.

Sydney promises to seek a Congressional pardon for two border patrol
agents that some conservatives feel very strongly should not have been
convicted. This is blatantly unconstitutional,
not an arguable or subtle point. Her argument that because the courts
haven’t yet slapped down the Congress for trying such a thing it is a
good idea to give it try is absurd and contemptible.

Whatever happened to conservatives supporting the plain meaning of
our Constitution? The President was given the pardon power, the
Congress was not: it’s simple as that, and it is just such
politically-inspired grandstanding and overreaching in which Sydney is
engaging in here that is gnawing away at the foundations of our
constitutional order.

I don’t see Sydney, or many other Republicans, getting very concerned about
that. In fact, they can be relied upon to cheer on the rats in the
Executive branch who are doing the chewing. But, of course, the
destruction and denigration of our civil liberties has long ceased to
concern most conservatives.

Conclusion:

Sydney does have an amusing and informative "what to do in CD 1" page
on her website that is admittedly pretty damn cool. In fact, I feel
quite strongly that this is the best, and perhaps the only reason to vote
for her.

Certainly, if you are concerned about the Iraq war, our prestige and
leadership in the world, our economy, health care, and the education of
our children, Sydney has nothing to offer you except worn-out
platitudes and rancid Republican snake-oil.

If your most important concern is undocumented immigration and
workers, and you believe that simply building a wall and sealing the border can address the
problem, Sydney is certainly your kind of candidate. If you have a
burning desire to eliminate the Estate Tax and the Income Tax and you want to
eliminate Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid to pay for it, Sydney
is your best bet. If you think wishful thinking and bullshit should overrule the plain meaning of our Constitution, again, you couldn’t do
better than to cast your vote for Sydney.