Two distinct groups have now formed among the eight top Republican Party candidates. The first group is the patriots made up of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul. The second group is the statists made up of Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carley Fiorina, and John Kasich. On almost every issue in Tuesday night’s debate these two groups came down on either the side of less government and individualism (the patriots), or more government and collectivism (the statists). There were some deviations, but for the most part the patriots and statists answered true to their ideology.
The issues were covered in sophisticated style. The moderators, Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, and Gerard Baker, conducted themselves in professional manner. After three circus-like debates with previous moderators vying for the title of most sensationalistic question asked, we finally got sanity. Substance was the result of this fourth GOP debate.
But even though the evening was enjoyable rather than egregious as with CNBC’s previous display of hubris, there were numerous exasperations and errors that mere high school students would have avoided.
Let’s take immigration for starters. Right off the bat Trump was asked to explain the features of his stand regarding illegals. How, declared the moderators, did he propose to get rid of 12 million immigrants in a feasible manner?
Trump launched into his standard response on the issue by checking off his declarations that 1) a wall would be built, 2) the illegals would be sent packing, and 3) we as a country would return to a nation of rules regarding who was allowed to enter America.
All well and good. But Kasich, Bush, and Fiorina attacked this litany as lunacy, claiming that no humane nation was going to “deport” 12 million human beings. To think of sending 500,000 Mexicans out of the country every month, said Bush, was inconceivable. The statist group quickly piled on the Donald and attempted to bash him into capitulation. This, of course, is impossible to do with someone like Trump. But unfortunately in his response to his attackers, Trump couldn’t get off his standard declarations. He would not bring up the subject of magnets and why they must be eliminated if we are ever going to solve the immigration problem. He handles them in his recently released immigration plan, but he needs to also articulate them in televised debates.
In other words, instead of talking about “walls” and “deporting,” Trump needs to be talking about enacting E-Verify so illegals can be screened out in the application process for jobs. He needs to explain to America about how we have to end welfare services and free schooling for illegals. He must elaborate on the need for Congress to nullify the anchor baby loophole regarding the 14th Amendment. These are the four magnets that draw illegals to America; they must be eliminated, or we are playing a ludicrous game of make believe.
In addition Trump needs to explain that a new constitutional Amendment does not have to be passed to end the anchor baby loophole as Fiorina and her statist cronies maintain. So there is no need to round up and “deport 500,000 illegals per month” as Bush so preposterously claims. Simply enact E-Verify, eliminate the other three magnets, and millions of illegals will gradually “self-deport” over the next ten years peacefully all on their own. High school students can grasp this, but Bush, Rubio, Fiorina and Kasich cannot.
On the subject of taxation each candidate had a basic tax reduction plan (when did a Republican not pay homage to “tax reduction”?). But none of the candidates put forth consistent rationality regarding taxes. On this issue patriot Trump joins the statists with a progressive rate plan. Only Carson, Cruz and Paul grasp the essence of taxation in America, i.e., that it must be proportional. In other words it must be comprised of “equal rates” in a country founded on “equal rights.”
But Carson and Cruz put forth impossibly low 10% rate plans with Cruz offering that a family of four that makes under $36,000 would pay no taxes. This would increase the already staggering “zero-payers” and sabotage his 10% rate before such a tax plan could even make it out of committee in Congress because there would be no hope for revenue neutrality. Carson’s 10% plan would encounter the same difficulties, but he says that his rate can be as high as 15% to avoid massive deficits. So there is more rationality here. Paul approached sanity with a flat tax of 14.5%. But both he and Cruz would eliminate all “payroll taxes,” which would add billions to the deficit.
AFR has put forth a rational and doable “flat tax” plan that suffers none of the problems encountered by the GOP patriots. See our National Independent Report, pp. 8-14, http://afr.org/wp-content/uploads/reports/NI-Report.pdf
Unfortunately all the GOP candidates are engaged in making their wishes father to their facts on taxes. The patriots get the philosophical aspect right (i.e., proportionality), but fail to get the implementation aspect right (i.e., revenue neutrality). The statists don’t accept proportionality and are vague on the implementation aspect, which is par for the course with statists. Vagueness is the foundation stone of their political careers. Never be specific. That way freedom can be avoided and bigger government can be smuggled into one’s offerings under the guises of necessity and responsibility.
The issue of foreign policy did not split neatly into the statist and patriot camps. Trump and Paul were very much patriots here viewing the Iraqi war as an abomination and cautioning any kind of strong involvement in the Mideast. Carson was not as strong in this regard, but was skeptical of major intervention. Cruz attempted to carve out a middle ground in which America maintained a powerful military force but used it judiciously in the Mideast and around the world. Standard conservative boilerplate, which unfortunately gets talked about, but never implemented.
Patriots Trump and Paul overwhelmed Bush, Rubio and Fiorina on the issue of Russia. Never in our history have we refused to deal with the man in the Kremlin, and Fiorina’s declaration that she would not deal with Putin was vehemently ridiculed for the imbecility that it is. Bush’s attempt to declare a “no-fly” zone in the areas of Syria and Iraq was equally demolished by Trump and Paul. “Are we going to actually shoot down Russian planes,” asked Paul? “Let Putin attack ISIS; I welcome it,” said Trump.
In face of such apostasy the statists were outraged, and they responded to Trump and Paul with hysterical accusations of irresponsibility and naivety. Bush, Rubio, Fiorina and Kasich are strident neocons. They subscribe to the necessity of American hegemony in the Mideast and to a great extent throughout the rest of the world. Their espousals in foreign policy are filled with odes to military glory. The grim realities of their never-ending wars for world hegemony from a moral and financial standpoint are simply ignored, which, of course, is the tyrannical ploy of all dictatorships. Dwell on the alleged glories; ignore the inevitable realities.
What verdict can we derive from this gathering of Republicans? For starters the GOP is clearly the more rational party over Hillary’s lugubrious gang of grafters. But there are several moral, philosophical, and economic discrepancies that prevail in the minds of both the patriot and statist camps of GOP candidates. Far more in the statist camp, but the patriots have some flaws that must be addressed.
Donald Trump and Ben Carson did themselves no harm; they will continue to lead. Though both are weak on details and explaining the finer more technical and factual points on each issue. Whether this translates into withdrawal of support from the voters remains to be seen.
Unfortunately Carson lacks the strength of personality to be president. He would be manipulated by the CFR and his principles sacrificed to the intimidatory presence of powerful operatives behind the scene. Trump, on the other hand, has the strength of personality to be president. He would stand up to the CFR, and perhaps stop the rush to the New World Order despite his lack of articulateness on the finer points of policy. Advisors can be gathered around him to furnish these.
Ted Cruz is a mixed bag, staunch patriot and constitutional conservative on all issues but foreign policy. He walks a tightrope when it comes to trying to balance his patriotism with his militarism in foreign policy. But he has a grasp of the finer factual aspects of policy and would be an imposing opponent to Hillary. Could he stand up to the CFR elites who dominate behind the scene? Very doubtful.
Rand Paul is a lost cause. Despite his strong constitutional stands and libertarian economics he simply lacks the big personality to command the stage and be presidential. We live in the media age, and big personalities are a requisite. The days when a Calvin Coolidge could gain the White House are long gone.
Marco Rubio again impressed with his assertive articulations and engaging debate style. But the man lacks presidential demeanor, and worst of all, he is a gushing New World Order advocate solidly in the neocon camp.
The other three statists – Jeb Bush, Carley Fiorina, and John Kasich – come to the process “stillborn.” Bush radiates whimpiness and would be a craven puppet in face of the CFR bullies of Washington. Fiorina is the classical ice queen of neoconservatism who has memorized the New World Order play book and will dutifully implement it once in office. Kasich is a forlorn retread from the eighties. Hysterical and obtuse, he is, like his comrades, a dutiful puppet.
Stay tuned; it is going to be a contentious and exciting campaign.
Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas and the Director of Americans for a Free Republic www.afr.org. A graduate of Beloit College in Wisconsin, his articles have appeared in such publications as The American Conservative, Insight, Liberty, The Freeman, The Social Critic, The Dallas Morning News, and the San Antonio Express-News, as well as on numerous Internet sites.
He is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values
Email: NelsonHultberg (at) afr.org