Trump-less GOP Debate Still Missing Moral Principles

Ed Hudgins's picture
Submitted by Ed Hudgins on Fri, 2016-01-29 23:22

Trump-less GOP Debate Still Missing Moral Principles
By Edward Hudgins

January 29, 2016 — The Iowa GOP primary debate wasn’t only missing Donald Trump—mercifully. It was also missing a discussion of the fundamental principles of government and the country’s—and Republican Party’s—real underlying moral crisis.

The Donald’s absence from the stage of the January 28 matchup eliminated some of the distraction of his personal attacks on the other candidates, clearing space for more serious discussion. Sadly, the event was much like the ones that went before, part recitation of talking points and stump speech lines, part food fight.

Bush for choice, Paul vs. tyranny

There were occasional bright spots. Jeb Bush was asked an odd question about a private veteran’s charity accused of wasting money and whether he, as president, would police such charities. Bush rightly highlighted the recent Veterans Administration scandals. He not only said he’d fire those responsible for the incompetence that had led to the deaths of veterans waiting for treatment. He also said he would “give veterans a choice card so that they don't have to travel hours and hours to get care if they want to go to their private provider.” Choice, what an idea!

Rand Paul was asked about whether body cameras for police, especially in places like Ferguson where racial tensions are high, would protect both police and citizens. Paul not surprisingly agreed. But he added that “a third of the budget for the city of Ferguson was being reaped by civil fines. People were just being fined to death. . . . If you're living on the edge of poverty and you get a $100 fine or your car towed, a lot of times you lose your job.” Paul should be congratulated for highlighting the fact that tyranny can be found at all levels, and in many seemingly mundane government practices.

Cruz vs. Rubio: immigration war

The fiercest Republican-on-Republican verbal violence came between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio over immigration. With film clips of their past contradictory statements, the Fox News moderators provoked the fight. But it was instructive to hear the verbal gymnastics as the two GOP Latinos attempted to explain the intricacies of their evolving views on the issue, while they each claimed not to have evolved at all.

Their mano-a-mano also helped explain, for better or worse, part of Trump’s appeal. There are nuances to the immigration issue. If you’re for a more open immigration policy—read Jeb Bush—you still understand the need to deal with millions of illegals who are already here. Both Cruz and Rubio made such tries in the past, but now fight with each other, trying to distance themselves from what should be viewed as past virtues in order to appear as hardcore border hawks. To some viewing this sorry spectacle, hearing Trump unapologetically—and foolishly—declare “deport ‘em all” might seem refreshingly clear.

Chris Christie captured the sentiment of those trying to follow the intricacies of legislative maneuvering when he said, “I watched the video of Senator Cruz. I watched the video of Senator Rubio. I heard what they said. . . . I feel like I need a Washington-to-English dictionary.”

Republicans without principles

Moderator Chris Wallace introduced a segment of the debate promising questions on “the role of the federal government.” That should have been the most important discussion of the evening. It wasn’t. The questions concerned specific policies.

What was missing was a discussion of the fundamental principles defining what government should and should not do... Read further here.