Tag Archive | "Iowa Republican Presidential Debate"

The Great Debate

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On Thursday, August 11, 2011, Republican Presidential hopefuls gathered in Ames, Iowa in anticipation of this weekend’s straw poll, an important  barometer of early support in the state that traditionally hosts the nation’s first event of the primary season, the Iowa Caucuses.  To make their views and distinctions known to potential voters, the formally declared candidates participated in a debate.  The gala event was sponsored by Fox News and hosted by Brett Baier and a panel of Fox News contributors

The eight hopefuls present were:

1. Tim Pawlenty

2. Michele Bachmann

3. Mitt Romney

4. Jon Huntsman

5. Ron Paul

6. Newt Gingrich

7. Rick Santorum

8. Herman Cain

During this two-hour long debate, the candidates were asked questions on subjects ranging from dog food to gotcha, questions for which any good politician could provide some type of gobbedygook answer.  While some took offense at the nature of questions and answers, they were all pretty standard political fare.  As the old saying goes, “if the shoe fits wear it.”  The only thing missing was a Barack Obama pinata and a wooden stick.

Provided an allotted time for their answers, all the candidates did their best to distinguish themselves from their competitors and frequently ran overtime to the sound of bells ringing to alert them to their digression from the rules.  Some chose to attack other candidates, to smear a perceived front-runner and elevate their statuses in the eyes of the debate’s viewers.  Of course, for those attacked by others, time was permitted for rebuttal.

This was democracy in action like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington without the filibuster.  But, of all the questions asked, none of them, in my opinion, got to the heart of issues that touch the American electorate.

Were I permitted to pose questions, I would have asked the candidates to outline their positions on the following:

1. establishing Term Limits for members of the House of Representatives and Senate

2. reducing the self-endowed entitlements in the form of salary, pensions, and healthcare received by members of Congress

3. the means by which our electoral process may be changed so a poor man or woman might run for office

4. the means by which we can fix Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid so that they will be available to those requiring their benefits in the future

5. the reasons for which each believe that he or she should be elected to the highest office in our land

These are the types of questions that I believe should have been asked.  As a nation, we need to find people exhibiting vision, innovation, honesty, integrity, and patriotism to lead us into a new and better future.  Too often, debate questions are simply designed to demonstrate the self-perceived intelligence of the questioner, create some type of dramatic tension between the candidates, or generate sound bytes for future examination by political commentators – all in the hopes of producing higher ratings for the cable and network news telecasts.

America today stands at a crossroad.  Will we continue on our current path toward a slow demise as the world’s economic and military superpower, or will we seize this moment and initiate the changes we need to restore our past greatness?

Without true leadership, I do not see how we can reverse the path on which we, as a nation, travel.  A true leader would be the equivalent of a benevolent dictator who would place the needs of his people first, assuring that their needs and desires are fulfilled.  Expecting this type of leadership, however, would be a fairy tale.  In the real world, most political power-seekers are concerned first and foremost with their own personal enrichment.

In my opinion, the closest our nation has ever come to a leader in the likeness of a benevolent dictator was in the person of FDR.  He had a vision for a society that, in the words of another of our former Presidents, would be “kinder and gentler.”  In FDR’s vision, senior citizens would be provided a security net enabling them to enjoy their Golden Years in relative worry-free comfort.

During this most recent debate, one candidate iterated that future recipients now paying into the Social Security system should have to pass annual means tests to remain eligible for continuing benefits.  That candidate’s reasoning was that the original plan never took into consideration the longer lifespans enjoyed by many today.

In response, I would have asked the following:  whatever became of the contributed funds of members who did not reach retirement age (65)?  Why are these funds not being used to pay to those who live longer?  Or perhaps, our representatives should consider mandatory Hari-kari for those of us living to the age of 70 as a means to save the system!

Our next Presidential election is perhaps the most important since the Great Depression.  Will we continue to slip and slide toward third-world status?  Or, will we rediscover the exceptionalism and pioneering spirit that made us great?  You will decide.

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