James Wang" />
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Friday, September 29, 2023


Statemanship is dead

There are some simple rules people should follow when engaging in civil discourse: let everyone have their say; don’t interrupt when someone else is talking; and keep your hands and feet to yourself at all times. The average third-grader understands these rule. Unfortunately, the 2012 GOP presidential candidates can’t seem to master them.

In last week’s presidential debate, the fight continued to see who would face President Barack Obama in the polls next year. Once again, the Republican candidates spent the night pummeling each other with charged accusations and pointed jabs that did little to help any of them. This infighting is helping Obama more than any campaign committee ever could.

Of greatest note was the tussle between former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry over the topic of immigration. It wasn’t the actual issue of immigration that the two candidates had the greatest conflicts over, it was the talking part. After Perry’s accusation that Romney had hired illegal immigrants to work on his home, the two candidates began trying to shout down the other’s dissenting claims, with Romney finally reprimanding the Texas governor with: “You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you have got to let both people speak. So, first, let me speak.”

However, Romney made an apparent exception in his “let both people speak” rule when he repeatedly interrupted Hermann Cain over his 9-9-9 plan. He kept breaking in and inputting his own argument, making it hard for Cain to make a concise rebuttal.

At the end of the night Newt Gingrich summed up the debate with what most Republican viewers were probably already thinking.

“Maximized bickering is probably not the road to the White House,” said Gingrich.

There’s no probably to it. The way the candidates are conducting open season on each other only undermines the party’s main goal: to get one of them elected President of the United States. The purpose of these debates is to give each candidate a chance to coherently state their case for President. The disregard for professional courtesy that was evident throughout the debate not only undermines the presidential qualities of the candidates, it also leaves little room for actual meaningful development on other pressing issues. Issues like housing and education were noticeably absent from last week’s debate.

The senseless squabbling of the candidates is by no means a new development. Just two weeks ago, Hermann Cain unveiled his 9-9-9 flat tax plan that would impose a standard, across-the-board 9 percent tax on consumption, business and income. Cain’s proposal would do away with the current tax code entirely and overhaul it with this simplified tax rate.

There were several opportunities during the debate for the other candidates to civilly address Cain’s plan. It would have strengthened their platforms, while at the same time diminished Cain’s. One of the candidates could have pointed out, as an independent study of the plan suggested, that Cain’s plan might not provide enough tax revenue for the government to function in its current faculties. The candidate could have pushed for surgical cuts to the federal budget in non-essential facilities. They could have also raised concerns about the plan imposing both a national income and sales tax. Or, they could have chosen to counter Cain’s plan with a plan of their own.

What a candidate shouldn’t do during a debate, however, is make a poor joke about how if you happen to flip the plan upside down, it turns into the 6-6-6 plan — the tax rate of the Devil.

But that’s exactly what Michele Bachmann did — in addition to being a bit of a cringe-worthy joke in the first place. This is not the type of behavior the American people want to see in their future president. At this point, it might be safe to assume that if Cain had gone with an 8-8-8 plan, Bachmann would have suggested turning the plan on its side to create an infinite loop of taxes where hopes and dreams are sucked into another dimension.

Statesmanship has clearly taken a hit in this country. And the GOP presidential debates are a perfect example of this. These debates have become less a matter of presenting plans for the presidency and laying out a road map about what path each candidate wants the country to take, and more about slandering everyone else. The candidates seem to believe that in the end they will appear as the lesser of two evils. But that’s exactly the problem. Americans shouldn’t have to feel like they are choosing the lesser of two evils. They should feel safe and confident in who they elect.

The people of the United States can’t possibly put their trust in a pack of politicians who snap at every opportunity to get the majority of the room to laugh with them. This insistent and insubstantial backbiting is going to destroy the chances of any of the GOP candidates winning the election.

The childishness of their bickering is going to destroy the integrity of the Republican Party as a whole. If this happens, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

James Wang is a history freshman and may be reached at [email protected].

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