I hope that Republicans across America remember last night’s GOP presidential candidate debate when they almost certainly lose the White House again in 2016. Everything you need to know about what’s wrong with today’s mainstream evangelical Republicanism was on full display last night in Wisconsin. Republicans will certainly continue to win congressional and state legislative seats they continue to gerrymander but winning a national campaign represents a different challenge – and one that Republicans are clearly not serious about accomplishing.
Republicans a year from now can look back with regret at many moments from last evening’s well-run debate by Fox Business Channel – which dared to ask candidates intelligent questions aimed at generating answers rather than instigating food fights in a middle school cafeteria. I hope Republicans remember that …
- They booed the most reasonable, practical and moderate person on stage. That’s Ohio Governor John Kasich. They booed him because he began to suggest that if a bank “too big to fail” were about to go under, he would look for ways to help the depositors who would suffer the most. He noted that when someone is actually in charge of running things, idealistic philosophy doesn’t always work. For stating that he would seek to even attempt to help Americans who would be hit the hardest in a bank crash, his party booed him. This is the same party that cannibalized its own Speaker of the House because he was not extreme and out of touch enough. Kasich is too reasonable and capable to win a GOP primary, which is exactly why he could win the White House for Republicans if they could look far enough beyond their own noses to thrust him into a general election.
- They booed former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for articulating a sensible, humane approach to illegal immigration, positions Senator Marco Rubio himself used to support before he decided he wanted to run for president. Rubio like countless other Republicans with reasonable and laudable positions on various issues backed away from to appease the religious right majority in his party. Republicans in the crowd last night cheered for the likes of the ever-misguided Senator Ted Cruz, who tried to couch the problem of illegal immigration as an economic issue -- except that he expressed exactly the wrong understanding of those economics. To be clear, undocumented workers (no human is an alien) are a net gain for the U.S. economy. If you would like to would like to conduct a contest to see what could destroy our economy the fastest, go ahead and deport every undocumented worker and let Donald Trump build his wall. Undocumented workers now as they have throughout our history take jobs that most Americans find beneath them, providing back-breaking labor for low wages. Our agricultural and poultry industries would collapse due to losing its entire workforce and food suppliers would be forced to exponentially increase their prices in order to attract enough Americans to perform those jobs. Countless other industries would suffer, too, and that pain would be felt by everyone in this country. And oh by the way, Republicans, it’s not usually a great idea to constantly antagonize the fastest growing voting demographic in the country. It’s doubly dumb when your only two candidates with Hispanic heritage are leading the charge.
- They failed to understand Senator Rand Paul’s accurate criticism of Rubio’s intellectually inconsistent intentions to provide child care tax credits and increase military spending – both of which Paul viewed as non-conservative ideas. He is right on both points, underlying his roots in a more intellectually consistent political philosophy – libertarianism – and is doubly right in pointing out that a bigger military does not mean a better military. Republicans have conniptions when Democrats say that the answer to a problem is for the federal government to spend more money on it yet are oblivious when they call for the same thing. Paul is also right in calling for the U.S. to lessen our involvement in regions like the Middle East where there aren’t valid reasons for our young men and women to die. More spending does not equal more safety.
- They derided candidates such as Paul and others who recognize that science is actually a thing and that global warming is an issue that threatens our future. Paul artfully called for a balance between our energy needs and protecting the very environment that enables us to live. Bush added to the debate by pointing to his solid record land conservation successes in his state that are playing a role in reducing carbon emissions.
- They applauded tired throw-away lines from the likes of Cruz when he talked about eliminating the IRS. It’s so easy for any candidate to bash the IRS and point to it as the axis of evil. Even if a Republican tax plan became law, we would STILL need someone to collect and process our taxes. No Republican is suggesting that we repeal all taxes and eliminate all revenue from the federal government. The IRS is just a bogeyman. The underlying problem is not with “lobbyists” and “special interests” on K Street in Washington D.C. but with voters who elect officials that create tax laws granting favor to Republican and Democratic interests alike.
- They cheered for blowhards like Trump and policy-challenged candidate Ben Carson. Those two have no business running for president of the United States. There is no need to expand on Trump here as he will fade fast enough as more people realize that he has nothing to offer but insults and bad reality television. Carson is more frightening with his combination of blanket evangelical views that deny equality and equal rights – and more frightening views with much of his other rhetoric. Carson is the man who believes that providing healthcare to poor Americans who can’t otherwise afford it is worse than the institution of slavery (his words), that Planned Parenthood is a plot to control minority populations (his words) by placing abortion providers in them, and who repeatedly makes subtle and vague statements that he refuses to clarify about some nebulous forces or people in the U.S. being worse than Nazi Germany (his words). Then there’s my new favorite – that biblical figure Joseph built Egypt’s pyramids for use as grain storage (his words).
- They applauded candidates who continue to make “Washington D.C.” another punching bag
in American politics. Do Republicans not realize how silly they look when they wrongly blame the District of Columbia for everything that goes wrong on Capitol Hill and the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Only one member of Congress is actually from here and she doesn’t even get to vote. All the rest come from EVERYWHERE else in the country. The majority of them are from Republican-dominated states. Voters, “We the People,” send every elected official in Congress and in the White House to Washington D.C. If Republicans don’t like what happens here, send us better people! They can start with the ones they booed and ignored last night. Secretary Clinton can start picking out White House furniture if they don’t.