Too much uniformity in Republican debate

Amanda Wallace

Amanda Wallace

If you watched the Republican candidate debate, you might have wondered why you bothered. Across the board, the answers were almost uniform. It got to the point where Michele Bachmann, Tea Party darling, said “I agree with (Newt Gingrich),” rather than actually making a different point than her fellow candidate. She could have just said “ditto” for the rest of the debate, since most of her responses involved pointing out how many foster children she had helped throughout the years (an impressive 27) or expressing a desire to undo all of the policies made in the last four years rather than bringing anything new to the table.

It isn’t the Republican Party that I have a problem with. It’s uniformity in the face of multi-faceted questions. It’s when an entire group votes in block. It’s when there is no answer other than the party line. Perhaps it is a childhood steeped in science fiction culture, but uniformity freaks me out. The Stepford Wives were all the same. The Borg are the same. Human beings, as sci-fi likes to remind us, are different.

This is one of the few reasons I appreciate Ron Paul. The debate was less “Republican candidates sparring against each other,” and more “Ron Paul versus the Republican party line.” As a libertarian, Paul could be accused of being far more liberal in his policies than his fellow candidates.

As a teenager in search of a political party, hearing Paul speak made me assume that I was libertarian. His policies are a meshing of extremely liberal and extremely conservative, as per his beliefs in constitutional literalism. For one, he supports the gold standard, limiting the federal government, gay rights, lowering taxes and cutting down on spending in foreign wars (his website covers all of these issues). This should make him more of a “Tea Party” candidate than Bachmann, especially since in the beginning tea partiers were more libertarian. But that was a farcical attempt at differentiating themselves from the Republican standard. In truth, Bachmann is on the Republican party line, and Paul is where he always was — yelling from the bleachers. But why?

Paul honestly doesn’t have a shot of winning the Republican ticket for President. Why? Because he’s too much like what neo-Republicans claim to be but actually aren’t. In the time that Republicans have claimed their newfound “Tea Party” ideals, what have they actually done that would make original Tea Party supporters proud? Honestly, not much. And what candidate supposedly “won” the debate this past weekend? Mitt Romney, who will basically be trying what previous year candidates have done — putting on an extremist front in the face of his own moderatism. It’s so that voters can say they went with the most “right” candidate, without actually having to vote for a truly right candidate. It’s comforting.

Voters aren’t stupid. They know that Romney isn’t as conservative as he likes to pretend to be. The man was once pro-choice, and he has recently been getting hits for helping to establish a state-run health care system in Massachusetts while he was governor. Voters know that the man is not as deeply conservative as he pretends to be, much the same way they probably knew that John McCain was not a “maverick.” It’s like pretending your boyfriend is a bad boy because he got caught smoking at Bible school. Except that in this case, it’s the Republican party deluding itself into believing that it is the true right-wing party of America.

I’m sorry, Ron Paul, that you don’t have a shot. But in truth, extreme mainstream party candidates are little more than trumped up third-party candidates, there to shout about the issues, but not there to establish any true competition. I, for one, hope that Paul sticks it through far enough for a few more debates. He actually makes them worth watching.