Talking with Pelosi's GOP opponent

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I had a fascinating discussion this morning with John Dennis, the Repubican candidate running against Nancy Pelosi. He’s not going to win, of course, but he’s gotten some national press, including a nice piece by John Nichols, the veteran liberal editor at the Madison-based Capitol Times and a plug from the Huffington Post. Matt Gonzales has endorsed him.

Dennis is a libertarian Republican, but not a nut job or a conspiracy wacko. He’s intelligent, articulate and makes some very good points. He is, for example, totally against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and calls for an immediate pullout of both quagmires. He supports same-sex marriage (it took me a while to get that out of him, but he does), supports Prop. 19, opposes DADT, and wants the feds to stop cracking down on undocumented immigrants in California. He’s against warrantless wiretaps and torture, and wants to repeal the worst parts of the PATRIOT Act. He thinks we should review all of our military bases abroad -- just as we have with domestic bases -- and close the ones we don’t really need anymore.

In other words, on Iraq, Afghanistan, the Pentagon budget, social issues, the drug war and civil liberties, he’s way out of synch with his party -- and a lot better than Pelosi, the good liberal Democrat. And Arthur Bruzzone, my old pal and the former chair of the Republican Party, came down with Dennis and told me that the Guardian really ought to endorse him.

We’ve said some bad things about Pelosi; after all, she privatized the Presidio. She’s been weak on the wars, weak on same-sex marriage, weak on taxes and corporate welfare -- and a lot more interested in raising money for Democrats than in representing her district. She won’t even debate Dennis, which is typical of her arrogance.

On the other hand: Dennis has a problem. He’s a member of a party that’s run by barbarians, and if he got elected, and was part of a GOP majority, some very bad people would be in charge. He knows that, and says he wants to change the GOP from within; good luck with that.

And since I spent much of my time these days talking about the gap between the rich and the poor and how utterly unsustainable a nation is when 5,000 families at the top control more wealth than 160 million at the bottom, I have a hard time with libertarians who don’t believe in income taxes.

And that’s Dennis. He told me that he thinks the income tax should be replaced with a consumption tax (that is, a sales tax), which is about the most regressive idea you can imaging. He said he thinks the Bush tax cuts should continue. He thinks government is too big and ought to be dramatically cut back.

I don’t think Pelosi much supports a radical redistribution of wealth in this country, but the Democrats at least are going to let the insane tax cuts for the rich expire. And that’s something.

So I understand Matt Gonzalez, and I had a wonderful talk with Dennis, and I hope you all listen to it (below). And I get the "beyond left and right" thing that the HuffPo talks about. But on the basic economic issues -- like wealth redistribution through progressive taxation -- the good libertarians and I will never agree. And that’s kind of a deal-breaker.

 

 

john dennis by endorsements2010

Comments

A great conversation. I don't get your deal breaker. I mean Cindy Sheehan YOUR endorsement in 2008 over Pelosi came out today in support of Dennis. Com'on, the rich don't pay taxes. They hire $450/hr accountants and bury their income in corporations owned by corporations...I care about these damn wars. Their pointless. They cost over a trillion dollars and counting. Soldiers are dying. That's the deal. Dennis didn't sound like a barbarian. The barbarian is Pelosi for supporting the wars.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

I've met John Dennis and I like him. I hope we wins because Pelosi's just plain awful. John's a genuine guy and I think the Republican party could learn a lot from him. So maybe we should be sending more like him to Washington, DC to encourage compassion for the poor and those who are different from us.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

How can you be so sure the democrats are going to let the tax cuts expire? Are we to believe anything Pelosi promises us? I may not agree with everything John Dennis believes in but at least we know what we'll be getting with him as our representative. I'm tired of being lied to by Pelosi. I'm tired of the never ending wars. If you do the math, every last penny, nickel and dime paid to the IRS goes to only two things: the illegal wars of aggression and debt payments to China. I'd love to see an honest, accountable government work towards progressive goals, but until we get honest people in Washington things will only continue to get worse. If John Dennis isn't the best San Francisco could ask for, he is for sure the best candidate on the ballot this year. He has my vote, and from talking with friends and co-workers he has a VERY GOOD chance of winning too.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

This is one of the more interesting articles I've read on the SFBG in a long time.

Posted by The Commish on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

In case you hadn't noticed, the worst redistribution TO the rich going on right now is the bailouts being cheerled by Obama & Pelosi, to say nothing of the money they're funneling to defense interests and other forms of corporate welfare (which you even mention yourself, but apparently just don't care THAT much about).

I guess one can take cold comfort in the fact that if Pelosi is reelected, San Franciscans get 2 more years of exactly the representation they deserve in Washington, now that their voting standard has basically become "anyone with a (D) next to her name."

Posted by Andrew Bissell on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

So what you're saying is, too bad about the warmongering and the trashing of the economy and takeover of government by the TooBigToFails but what you really care about is continuing the pretty fairytales told by pretend bleeding hearts. Look at reality. The status quo politicians of both major parties have lied and fleeced ordinary Americans and increased poverty exponentially during the Bush/Obama regimes. Pelosi is totally complicit, a hypocrite who panders to liberals while selling out, and you can't see it?

Libertarians are offering new ideas that should be considered; the past century has been dominated by ever-increasing government centralization and power, and the result has been disastrous -- economically, in foreign policy, in domestic erosion of rights. Just because Dennis is running as a Republican is no reason to kneejerk reject him. And the fact that he doesn't continue the pretty lies of established politicians is certainly no reason to reject him.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

Libertarians are like Trotskyists, you all had Greenspan in office as your Stalin, a disciple of Ayn Rand, she was at his original swearing in at the Oval Office by Ford.

But Greenspan did not hew closely enough to the orthodoxy for the true libertarians, so they are now retrenching buoyed by billionaire bucks, to reclaim Original Intent.

But you had your run with Greenspan, he who presided over the culmination of catastrophe that is libertarian capitalism, and you can never recapture that faded glory.

Libertarian capitalism is a lot like Communism, in that it looks good on paper to some, but with human nature as it is, it will never work in practice, in fact has never worked in practice. For conservatives, you all sure counsel a radical, liberal course of action.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Oct. 18, 2010 @ 10:08 am

Randroids should not be confused with libertarians.

Its what "they" want you to believe, and you fell for it. The conspiracy marches on.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 18, 2010 @ 10:36 am

Right, nobody can ever achieve complete compliance with the orthodoxy, and repeated failures only call for even stricter efforts to comply.

That looks familiar to this progressive comrade Trotsky.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Oct. 18, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

Rand fans are a special case of loons.

The Libertarian party ran a Bob Barr for president, a joke. Small "l" libertarians are not real joiners although they probably vote Libertarian, but not for a Bob Barr. I went to the Castro St fair 20 years ago and the Libertarians asked me to be a delegate at national convention after ten minutes of BSing.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 18, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

I heard John Dennis speak at a rally, and he believes in exactly what I believe in:
Smaller government.
Pull the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Closing as many military bases as we can to save billions.
He was against the bailouts and no one will be bailed out in the future.

Pelosi believes in spending as much money as possible and bailing out anyone who appears in front of her. She is terrible and I hope she gets destroyed in the election in November. This country is slowly spending itself into oblivion and she plays a big part in that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

It's a shame this gentleman is not getting more press for his interesting political outlook.

Posted by CJ FLowers on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

Great article. It is unfortunate that more SF voters don't know, or perhaps care, that this election is happening. If it wasn't for coverage like this, I would have no idea that Pelosi should be reconnecting with us, and campaigning to earn my vote right now.

I was surprised to read that Dennis, a Republican, is more aligned with the needs of the average San Franciscan than Pelosi, who has been representing us for decades. To some extent, it seems like most incumbents are out of touch and out for themselves these days, and her support of the war continues to be alarming. I have a lot to think about before the election next month, but I am liking what I'm reading here so far. This could be a major upset - new blood in Congress vs. more arrogance and complacency.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

Great article. It is unfortunate that more SF voters don't know, or perhaps care, that this election is happening. If it wasn't for coverage like this, I would have no idea that Pelosi should be reconnecting with us, and campaigning to earn my vote right now.

I was surprised to read that Dennis, a Republican, is more aligned with the needs of the average San Franciscan than Pelosi, who has been representing us for decades. To some extent, it seems like most incumbents are out of touch and out for themselves these days, and her support of the war continues to be alarming. I have a lot to think about before the election next month, but I am liking what I'm reading here so far. This could be a major upset - new blood in Congress vs. more arrogance and complacency.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

John Dennis a courageous man who dare to say the truth. To say no to war and yes to liberty and personal freedom dosent deserve our vote? Are you even on the planet? What so much money that Nancy bought the Diebold hacker progam and thi election is rigged?
Nancy Pelosi cares about nancy pelosi. The hell with the good men and women who go fight and die. The hell with the family loosing their home the bankers need that fat million plus bonus. Yes I want to by spied on and tracked. Oh yes why bother to read the bill just vote on it. I'm sure our friends in the heath insurance indusrty would steer us wrong. Besides as a congress woman it won't apply to me anyhow. Screw you little San Franciso pesents. "Let Them Eat Cake!"
This Is Insane! Stop the Maddness! Just stop it!

Vote for John Dennis

PEACE

Posted by John The Diver on Oct. 13, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

To the author's point - the most regressive thing I can imagine is taking money from current and future taxpayers and giving it to corporations on wall street that took stupid risks. Only I don't have to imagine it, because Nancy Pelosi has voted yes for every bailout she could.

AIG and others are playing a game of heads I win, tails you bail me out - and Nancy Pelosi hasn't said no to them once. No way I'm going to vote for someone in Goldman Sach's back pocket. I really want John Dennis to win, having someone in Congress that believes we shouldn't squeeze the middle class to bail out the rich is exactly what we need.

Posted by George on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 7:05 am

See, this is where the libertarian ethos is so seductive: The current government isn't doing what I want, so we need to limit the size of that government. Actually, the fact that Congress is corrupt doesn't mean representative democracy is a failure, and the failure of this government to solve some of our worst problems doesn't mean we should turn everything over to the private sector. But gee, when you're pissed, as so many of us are, it sure sound good. Problem is, the private sector's record on solving social problems is far far worse.

Posted by tim on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 11:53 am

"the government is not doing what I want, and I don't want it to do much of anything in the first place."

You are sorely confused.

The thought that for example the libertarians want to turn everything over to the private sector is so odd. There are massive layers of government creating problems for themselves to solve as in Avalos's alcohol tax. The progressive create this problem by creating all these services and inviting the nations fuck ups here and then demand more to pay for it. How would anyone turn that tail chasing exercise over to the private sector?

Posted by matlock on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

A cat at a dog party will get pounced on, no matter what the feline believes in or does. Dennis is a cat who will have no affect at the party. We've seen this with Lincoln Chafee.

Posted by Animal on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

he has my vote, and I been a democrat all my life, but change is needed,

Posted by Guest dan on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

Im voting for Dennis because Pelosi is a neocon.
War
Torture
Bailouts for Wall St
Spying

and the list goes on and on.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2010 @ 7:00 am

This election in SF is like playing chess on a magic board,
the main element being the results are NOT going to be
what the mainstream pundits expect.

Good on the steering committee behind Dennis's
campaign machine as this is brilliantly thought out.

Posted by McGuyver on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

Stopped reading after "He’s not going to win, of course". Nice attitude your freakin loser.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

What? The wicked witch isn't in the race?

Posted by MacGruber on Oct. 18, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

Wow..I teach 3rd grade in a Catholic school, take care of a 90 year old mother on my own, was in the Peace Corps in Tunisia..and have done many clothing collections for unwed mothers...and your writer says I am a barbarian because I am a Republican! How insulting and uneducated can a journalist be...if that is how a liberal thinks, no wonder I am a Conservative!

Posted by Guest Ken on Oct. 19, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

In Pennsylvania we looked to San Fransisco to help the nation out of the ObamaDem rut. We all know she is more than responsible for the 5 trillion dollars spent since she took over the House in 1997. Don't blame Bush on this one. If you people out there re elect her, you should be ashamed of you selves. She isn't just bad for you, she is bad for the entire country. You could have helped with the sweeping out of incumbents that is ruining our country.Here iN PA we got rid of Specter and Santorum.

Shame on the Republicans for not supporting John Dennis. It is like you gave up before the race even started.

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2010 @ 7:50 am

What a bafoon...the author calls a voluntary sales tax regressive but thinks a tax that violates our privacy, is enforced with guns and allows the receivers of public money to line their pockets the better option???? duuuuuuuhhhhhh...we deserve what we get for being so freakin stupid. The IRS and the Federal Reserve were both established in 1913 to pay for endles war...get a clue you idiot progressive moron.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2010 @ 2:47 pm