Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Primaries, Debates, and Figuring out who to Vote For



I believe that the Republicans have now held three major debates running up to the primary election. It seems to me, from reading commentary and the way the media portrays these debates, that the only function of these debates is to figure out which candidate to vote for. That is a terrible way to view the debate process, and because of this idea, it effectively silences all the candidates except the front-runners.

Take Ron Paul for example. He is definitely the weird uncle of the Republican primaries. I'm not going to vote for him, but I sincerely wish that he would get more time in the primary spotlight. Republicans need to hear the guy say what he says about Social Security, Medicare, and "preemptive attacks" on sovereign nations. Not necessarily because we need to adopt Ron Paul's views, but because we need to know that there are alternative view points.

Here is what is important to remember. Just because we elect Rick Perry, Barack Obama, or whomever America chooses, it does not mean that we have elected them whole-cloth, and that we can never oppose any of their agendas. Besides this, we may not completely agree with a certain agenda, but may simply wish it were more nuanced. Debates are supposed to help us do this with ideas. Debates are supposed to refine ideas and make them better.

Let's pretend that Rick Perry is your guy. You agree with him on 80% of what he says. But on the issue of Social Security, you actually like what Ron Paul says, with whom you agree with only 40% of the time. But to your dismay, Ron Paul is virtually ignored in the debates, and because Romney and Perry only want to talk about troop deployment, the serious issue of Social Security never even comes up. Worse, if Ron Paul drops out, you fear the subject will be virtually ignored. So you really, really want Ron Paul to stay in the race but you also really, really want him to lose because he is daft enough to say out loud that Iran should be allowed to have nukes!

The educated voter needs to have a good grasp of the issues. He needs to listen to the debates to see which ideas he likes the best. After he has his issues and ideas prioritized, then he can go about measuring the candidacy of each individual. This gives the voter the advantage of knowing his candidates strengths and weaknesses, and give him the ability to communicate to his preferred candidate his concerns should he get elected. It is our duty, as citizens of the United States, to respect our elected officials, but also to communicate to them our concerns in a respectful manner.

It is probably too early to have chosen a candidate for office. Unless, of course, you are a Democrat who thinks President Obama has done a bang up job, or you have followed the career of a particular candidate enough to know that this is your candidate no matter who else runs.

9 comments:

Mike Cook said...

"Unless, of course, you are a Democrat who thinks President Obama has done a bang up job"

There's another option too.. you think Obama has been a disappointment, but you also think that the only Republicans running that don't scare the crap out of you have no chance of winning the nomination. :)

Part of the problem is that Obama was so strong and popular a year ago that all the sane and competent Republicans decided to wait it out until 2016, leaving us with this motley collection of lunatics and losers. Now that Obama has faltered, there is a decent chance that one of these crazy people could be elected.

Brad Williams said...

That's an interesting observation, Mike. Who do you think would have been a good candidate to run, or will be a good candidate in 2016 for the Republicans?

I admit that I'm feeling a little bit like that guy on the ground at the Frenchman's castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who said, "Is there anyone else up there we can talk to?"

Mike Cook said...

Pawlenty wasn't crazy, boring, yes, but reasonable. Huntsman is reasonable but will never advance in the Republican primaries because he thinks that science is a good idea. I have some issues with Chris Christie but he seems to be competent for the most part and gets stuff done. Mitch Daniels might not have been bad. Lamar Alexander is reasonable, but he already ran twice and clearly the Rupublicans didn't want him.

Eventually, what it comes down to for me though, is that my vote tends to be taken by the person who I think is going to screw us over the least. Obama has been disapointing so far, but I am completely terrified of who Perry/Bachmann/Santorum/Other dominionist might nominate as a Supreme Court Justice.

Brad Williams said...

At this point, of the people that terrify you, I think only Rick Perry has a real shot.

I confess that I do not understand this "dominionist" worry that is circulating. Have these candidates said anything different than other "Christian" candidates have said in order to garner votes? If there is some sort of dominionist cabal out there, I am a tad miffed that I don't know about it.

Mike Cook said...

I don't mind Christians using their Christianity as a basis for making decisions, what I do mind is those who try to use it as a hammer to make decisions for me. Perry's associations with, and invitations to what I consider the lunatic fringes of nominal Christianity at his recent statewide prayer gathering for rain in Texas (which, turns out to have not worked out that well, considering the state is now on fire) put him into a category that I find questionable.

Perry's wonderful forethought to cut 75% of the statewide firefighting budget during a drought might not have been the best plan either.

Brad Williams said...

Out of curiosity, who are the lunatic fringes? I have no idea who sponsored the prayer gathering, but a prayer gathering is hardly unusual so I didn't think anything of it.

For the record, it appears that the prayer worked. God said, "No."

I think the cutting of the firefighting budget has nothing to do with his prayer gathering or faith. Unless, of course, some Christian fireman prayed an impreccatory prayer on the state of Texas when he lost his job. :)

Mike Cook said...

Tim Wildmon and the AFA (Labled a hate group by SPLC), Mike Bickle of IHOP (Oprah Winfrey is the Harlot of Babylon), and John Benefiel (Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol / homosexuality is an Illuminati conspiracy) come quickly to mind.

Fair point on saying "No" :)

Brad Williams said...

Well, I take the "hate group" label with a grain of salt. I think that pretty much revolves around the AFA's stance regarding homosexual conduct being a form of sexual immorality. If that's all it takes to be a "hate group", then I reckon I'm in. (But not as an AFA guy.)

Actually, the only group on the list you mentioned that I've even heard of is the AFA. I have good news and bad news on that. The good news is that you might be right that they are lunatics. The bad news is that I really don't think that they can be considered fringe. I even get their email to see what they are saying, and I'm fairly confident that they have a significant following.

My beef with the AFA is not in their stance regarding sexual conduct. It is in the fact that I find them to be moralistic in much of what they write, and I find their articles to be more legalistic than gracious. I also find them to be alarmist. I can't stand reading Christian publications that sound panicky.

I can't comment on the other guys, though. Also, I will say that the AFA does send out some interesting voter guide things. You should get on the mailing list. You could use it for opposite voting probably. ;)

Steve T said...

I have voted Republican all of my 46 year old adult life (except I did vote for Perot in '92). Yet I find these candidates completely inadequate. I just don't like any of them, but for different reasons. Romney is a flip-flopper who says what everyone wants to hear. Perry is too new to this debate stuff, but I have a problem with his lack of conscience approving over 200 executions in Texas, and I have a problem with his willingness to render an Executive Order to inoculate children, indicating he believes government has more authority that I believe the Constitution allows. Bachman talks a good game but has no ideas. Paul seems like the crazy uncle but is close to my views on domestic issues, although on foreign policy I'm afraid he's too isolationist and will serve Israel up to the Arabs. Gingrich is the smartest guy in the room but his past actions in his personal life were reprehensible, so he loses my vote on that basis. Santorum is probably closest to my views but seems namby-pamby to me. Cain wants to ban Islam, which I think is un-American, and I have a problem with his "9-9-9" proposal b/c it would add a VAT tax that would just be increased by Congress every year. The guy from NM had some good zingers but won't go far. Who am I missing?

So I welcome any suggestions. Looking for a candidate I can support.