Wednesday, September 16, 2015

More Questions for Tonight's GOP "Debate"

This evening we will be treated (if I can abuse the word) to the second "debate" featuring the GOP presidential wannabes.  As with all such "debates," the emphasis will be on pandering to the base, scoring points and getting good sound bites as opposed to providing substantive discussion of the many serious issues facing the nation. That's just how it is ... nobody wants to spell out anything specific that he or she can later be held accountable for, and so they just play the trust-me card and count on our short attention spans to keep us from realizing we've been played.

Before the last GOP "debate" I wrote a blog post titled "Questions You Probably Won't Hear in the GOP 'Debate'", expressing the topics about which I was concerned and I hoped against all hope and experience that the shouting heads would actually discuss. Needless to say, they didn't.

In preparation for tonight's "debate" I reiterate the same ten questions, and would also like to call your attention to these other ones, culled from a CNN online article by Julian Zelizer titled "Six Questions for the Republican Debate," along with my commentary ... they're worth your time to read and think about, even though there's not a chance in hell of any of them actually being discussed in a worthwhile fashion:

1. Will You Liberalize Immigration Policy or Follow (the) Nativist Path? America is a nation that was built by immigrants, and so demonizing immigrants (both legal and illegal) doesn't make much sense. That said, as we see in Europe, no nation should be expected to take in the hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of refugees demanding aid on their own terms* and bringing their own economic, political, and religious problems with them. What's your plan? In detail, please.

2. How Will You Make (the) Middle Class More Secure? See my earlier questions #1 (I know you despise Obamacare and want to repeal it immediately, but what is your specific plan to provide affordable health care in its place?), #2 (Do you believe the current tax code is fair to all Americans? Would you consider changes to the tax code which close loopholes or raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy in order to even out the average tax burden? If so, give some concrete examples of loopholes you would close or taxes you would raise), #6 (What are your specific ideas for making American education affordable and reducing levels of student debt?), and #9 (The national minimum wage today is $7.25/hour, which is well below the poverty line for a full-time worker with a family of four. Do you support an increase in the minimum wage? Why or why not?). As Mr Zelizer writes,

"Many of their stances -- going after unions[what does that mean?] or opposing the minimum wage -- would actually reduce the number of middle-class wage earning positions ... Platitudes that the free market will simply do better under their leadership are not enough. Each candidate should be required to put forth one specific measure that they would push for as president that would have a positive impact on middle class family budgets."

3. Can Republicans Govern? Given that the GOP is internally ungovernable between its "moderate" and "extreme" wings, has resorted to blackmail once by shutting down the government in an attempt to get its way, and is threatening to do the same thing again, why should we believe that you can govern the nation like responsible adults? Yes, we know you hate Democrats passionately, but - unfortunately for you - we have two political parties, the other one has significant support among the American people, and champions policies and philosophies different from your own. What's your plan for working out your differences with them, and for bringing order to your own party? Hint: the correct answer does not include any words blaming Democrats for all the problems ... the question is about you.

4. How Will You Repair the Political Process? This is similar to questions #7 (Do you think "big money" has too much influence in our politics? If not, why? If so, what will you propose to do to limit its influence?) and #8: (What, specifically, will you do to restore faith in our elected government?) in my earlier post, and is closely related to the previous question about whether you can actually govern. The approval ratings of Congress in most polls are in the single digits ... what - specifically - will you do to regain Americans' trust in government. Hint: a good start would be to quit blaming "big government" for everything that's wrong in the world.

5. What's (the) Alternative to the Iran Deal? Everyone on the Republican side is heaping abuse on the administration for coming to this nuclear deal with Iran. But what are the alternatives they suggest? Some believe that because sanctions were working, we should have stuck to the status quo ... but I think that quo was losing its status as our allies drifted away from support of sanctions. To the extent that anyone in the GOP has an alternative to the agreement, it is centered on bombing the Iranians back to the Stone Age. I think this is stupid. So what are the alternatives you propose, and what makes you think your plan will work?

6. How Will You Balance Counterterrorism and Civil Liberties? I asked pretty much the same thing with question #3 in my earlier post: "How will you fight violent extremism while staying true to core American beliefs and freedoms?"

All of these are good questions. Good luck with getting good answers. Oh, and in response to the inevitable question from my more conservative friends, I have a separate list of questions for the Democratic candidates when they have their debate. For the moment, it's up to the GOP wannabes to convince me that they have actual proposals based on real thought and analysis, and can govern in a two-party system like grown-ups.

Have a good day. Expect better from those who would be your president. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Some refugees arriving in Europe and the US are refusing the free meals offered at shelters if they think there's pork in them.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

There are too many candidates! Therefore, the emphasis will be on getting a zinger or two to be remembered.

Linda Kay said...

I agree with Angel. And really, whatever their answers would be to your questions, no one can accomplish anything without some cooperation from Congress. And I think we are all aware of what a mess that is!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

I'm not hopeful that any light will come out of tonight's "debate."

Big Sky Heidi said...

I hope that at least one of them will address question #6.

We should not trade faux security for civil liberties.

Leroy said...

They need to address improving the infrastructure, education, and really solving problems that the government should solve. And avoid unnecessary foreign entanglements.

Mike said...

The ultra rich got a huge tax cut from Bush in 2001. Time to restore the status quo.