The political season is well underway. This weekend, things went into overdrive. With the New Hampshire primary coming up Tuesday, there were two debates among the GOP presidential candidates held. This was the last opportunity before Tuesday for the candidates to present themselves to the nation, and solidify their places in the race. On Saturday night and Sunday morning, the newly thinned out post Iowa field of contenders would joust with one another over issues of national security, marriage equality, women’s right to choose, and domestic economic policy. The participants were front runner Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Perry.
While there are many things that can be said about these two debates, what is most striking is the ideologue heavy nature of most of what was discussed. For all the talk of current president Barack Obama being some sort of leftist with socialist minded ideas, the Republicans keep showing themselves as intransigent hard- rightists who will not bend on their rigid principles. Mr. Santorum said that he would use his power as president to overturn Roe v. Wade, and Mitt Romney wants to propose a federal amendment defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. Newt Gingrich went off on some tangent about anti-Christian bigotry, and libertarian Ron Paul said that Martin Luther King, Jr. is “one of his heroes” even though he was against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rick Perry went all the way with the partisan crazy talk, and stated that he would send troops back into Iraq were he to become president.
Now, its one thing to rally the conservative base with talk of how they would govern differently. However, when you start discussing openly rolling back the rights that people have fought and died for, that’s something all together different. Santorum even stated that “there are no classes in America”, an idea that is comical in light of the vast inequality we see right in front of us during this Great Recession. None of this was dialed back, or questioned any further. The GOP field of contenders seem to forget that after the primaries are done, they still have to appeal to independents, and yes, even some conservative Democrats. Many independents will be turned off at the notion of a federal amendment on marriage, and taking a regressive view on Roe v. Wade is a good way to alienate half of the electorate. The only person who talked sensible at all in these two debates was former Utah governor Jon Huntsman. This goes to show that the majority of the GOP contenders are more concerned with hitting the right notes to energize their base than to map out a course of what they want for the country. There is no alternative vision here, just a desire to attack. What was displayed here for the most part was a host of terrible ideas on domestic/foreign policy, and social issues. In times like these, when so many are suffering, the last thing that needs to be done is to play to narrow points of view.
-Marc W. Polite