I’ve been trying to catch up on the republican presidential candidate debates and I watched the latest one last night and the nights before. First; wow what an amazingly high-tech debate! I like how Fox partnered with Google to let everyday people send in their questions through YouTube videos and emails and such. I also enjoyed the online extras in between the breaks with different analysis of the candidates and what people are searching for the most etc.
Here are some thoughts I have about the whole thing. I don’t mind sharing these thoughts because I find it helpful to get them out for myself but also because I like to share my opinions about politics not to convince anyone necessarily to think exactly like me (I’m not sure I’d wish that upon anyone) but because I find dialogue about this topic to be extremely important. Keep in mind that when I share thoughts on politics I am in no way trying to make you agree with me or even vote just like me. I also reserve the right to change my mind about candidates and even about certain issues as I learn more about them.
Politics—the study of how policy is formed in our country—is incredibly fascinating to me, even though it can also be incredibly frustrating at the same time. It is interesting to study our history (which I’ve been doing more of) and see how we’ve evolved and are evolving as a country. Like a good friend of mine likes to say, “we are all on a journey” and usually we each are in a different place on that journey. I feel that I am a baby still on the journey of understanding politics and many of my thoughts and ideas about certain parts of it are still ‘in progress’. So keep that in mind; that my words with this subject tend to be more ‘streams of consciousness than solid unchangeable convictions. There are of course certain exceptions to that when it comes to intrinsic moral issues such as abortion and other ‘sanctity of life’ issues.
First, I’d like to share why I find it important, for myself, to watch these debates and pay attention to the candidates now. The simple answer is: All politics is local. It would be easier really for me to do my own thing and live life without having to pay attention to what the legislatures in my state or federally were doing but the fact of the matter is that what they do affects my everyday life. They can’t take away my choice of how I choose to live my life—happily or sadly, positively or negatively etc. But they definitely have the power to impose regulations or laws on me that affect what I do or don’t do in my day and life. Policies that are made in the government legislatures and departments can effect what food I buy, what type of car I drive and when, where I send my children to school, what supplements, medicines or other ‘health care’ treatment I use for our families health, what house I buy, what bank I keep my money in, even what I do with my trash. It’s pretty important for me and my family who holds those reigns. I know I have very little influence over who gets voted into office and then from there who gets assigned to the various departmental positions—I, the little person, am almost as important as a speck compared to the huge companies and lobbying organizations. But, like I’ve said before, Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who makes a really great point—“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Even a speck like me is important and I can make a difference.
Now, back to why the debates and the pre-primary presidential candidates are important to keep up with starting now. By the time next November comes around, the majority of Americans will have forgotten much of what was said during this time—if they were even paying attention. I think most people are just waiting until after the primaries to see which candidate will have to face Obama. Which is too bad because now is the time when it is more important to get involved. Now is the time when we can start the process of getting to know all the candidates, rather than waiting and trying take a crash course of one candidate and his/her history and positions a week (or day) before the November 2012 election. Now is the time when we have more of a choice about who we really want to be the next president rather than who we’ll have to settle for to replace the current president.
The debates are long but you can watch the all online and break them up into little segments rather than sitting down and watching the whole thing in one setting. They are also actually quite entertaining in some parts. The last game-show-type question at the end of the last debate gave me a good laugh—especially after Newt Gingrich’s typical matter-of-fact response to the whole idea. It’s also interesting to see how well each candidate debates, even amongst their ‘friends’. I know many do not like to see them attacking each other, being that they are on the same ‘side’ but it’s good practice for having to go against Obama—clearly not on the same side. Romney pointed out that even though they all don’t agree with each other on everything; they all do agree that any one of them would be a better president by far than who we have now.
These are my first quick impressions of each of the candidates from the last debate (if you’ve made it down this far).
Michele Bachmann — I like her. I like that she is a ‘constitutional conservatist’. I admire her gumption and her zeal for this. I also like that she really does not play into any ‘sexist’ games by drawing any attention to the fact that she is a woman. But, as a woman, I admire her for not letting this difference stop her. I also am happy with how she has answered the Gardasil issue and thankful that she has brought the issue of unjust government vaccine mandates into the debate as it is a very important often-overlooked-tossed-aside issue. It wasn’t surprising to me though that the media and others used this as a way to ruin her. It’s the same old trick—use something dumb to make a woman candidate look less than intelligent and every one will just follow along and assume that she is, in fact, too dumb to be in politics. I’m not sure yet if she is the one I would pick for the next president as there are some areas I feel she is weak on but overall I think she is playing an important role in the debates and in our country.
Herman Cain — I don’t know a lot about him but from the way he answers questions, I could vote for him. I think that the job of the president is a big leadership role. Herman’s business experience definitely makes him qualified for such a job. And I like that he does not play on any ‘race cards’. Herman does not look at himself as different from any other candidate up there because of his ethnic/racial background. He is who he is and the color of his skin will not change or determine that. He is a man of principal and it is his principals that he will run on.
John Huntsman – He has some good answers but some of his other answers and his history in politics make it hard for me to see him as a real ‘conservative’ candidate. I also hope his prediction about Romney and Perry come true—that they will just obliterate each other with all their back-and-forth attacking.
Gary Johnson—I appreciate the libertarian perspective he brings to the debates and the added humor too! But, for my sanity, will you please stop wiggling around and stay still when talking!
Ron Paul – One thing I most admire about this guy—he never quits. He knows his chances of actually being elected president-much less the primary candidate—is slim to say it nicely. Yet he stays in. Why? He is passionate and unyielding and consistent in his conservative and libertarian principles. And for this I do admire him. Yet, I get lost when it comes to his more extreme positions on the military and foreign policy. I am, however, impressed by his fans. I don’t think there has ever been a candidate that has so many devout and loyal fans as Ron Paul. If someone has a Ron Paul sign in their yard or a button on their shirt for him—you know there is nothing you can do or say that will change his/her mind about supporting him all the way, not matter what, to the end.
Rick Perry—Sorry dude, I’m not just not convinced. I listen and watch you answer and I’m left asking, “Huh? Did you even answer the question?” And yes the HPV Gardasil thing is a big deal.
Mitt Romney — You know at first I didn’t really like this guy. Just another slick politician whose teeth twinkle when he smiles. But the more I listen to him talk the less I dislike him. One thing is for sure: He wins the award for the best debater! (See, his magic is already working.)
Rick Santorum — Oh Rick. I could love you, I really could. You’re passionate about what you believe in—but maybe a little too passionate. I’m waiting for the day when you just walk up and punch one of your fellow candidates for saying something you disagree about. Your lack of composure is unfortunately a problem and would never stand against the cool, calm debater that is Barack Obama. That said, thank you for speaking the truth on many important issues. I hope you will continue doing so…just not as president.
Newt Gingrich—Out of all the candidates in the debates, Newt is the one I most enjoy listening to. He’s smart, he’s witty, he makes me laugh and feel relaxed. I know he’s been around a long time but maybe this could be a good thing—experience produces wisdom. I’ve been told and have heard his past does not really serve him well. I honestly haven’t had time to dig into his past yet. If he can’t be the president, I sincerely hope the new president will invite the former speaker onto his/her team as an invaluable advisor.