Opinion Debates are revealing the parties aren’t in the same political universe


HR King
May 29, 2001
By Jennifer Rubin
Columnist |
October 19, 2022 at 10:30 a.m. EDT

Recent midterm debates prove it: This election cycle is not about competing policy ideas or agendas. It’s about two parties operating in entirely different political worlds.
Judging by the debates, Republicans want to dispense with much of the federal government and repeal virtually every Biden achievement (including the bipartisan ones). They are determined to upend, upset and uproot workable government without offering any problem-solving ideas of their own. They have no alternative plan for health care. They have no solutions to address inflation. So what do they do after carving up the federal government?

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The answer is likely to cut taxes for the rich, but they cannot say so. The result is a void where a governing agenda normally would be. Watch the debate performances by Republican Senate candidates Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Herschel Walker (Georgia), Marco Rubio (Fla.) or J.D. Vance (Ohio), and you’ll be hard-pressed to name a policy solution they offered. “Close the border” is not a policy; it is a crudely stated aspiration. “Stop woke Democrats” isn’t even a coherent thought. Stop them from doing what?

Instead, many resort to accusing their Democratic opponents of positions they do not hold. After Vance repeatedly attempted to tie Democrat Tim Ryan to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Ryan suggested that Vance “move back to San Francisco” to run against her.

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In the Georgia’s governor race, Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams showered a debate audience with a stream of policy ideas, including, as the Associated Press reported, “a much larger teacher pay raise than the $5,000 Kemp delivered, an expanded Medicaid program, increased access to state contracts for small and minority-owned businesses and broader access to college aid paid for by gambling.” But for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, the only policy issue that seemed to interest him was crime, a familiar cudgel used against Democrats.
And don’t even try to parse through Walker’s debate answers for policy ideas. His inability to make any serious case for opposing a price cap on insulin reminded all viewers that he lacks the capacity to address serious challenges.

Republican candidates have good reason to eschew concrete policy ideas. When Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, rolled out an 11-point agenda for the party — including tax increases for the poor, abortion bans, pandering on “critical race theory” and sunsetting entitlement programs such as Social Security — virtually every other Republican ran from it.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) also produced a GOP agenda, but it was light on details, to put it mildly. What was there was frightful. The New York Times reported that “it hinted that Republicans would look to change the Affordable Care Act and roll back legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs.” These ideas, like Johnson’s proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, turn off all but the hardcore base.
While midterm debates rarely every offer competing ideas to address real issues, they can serve a critical purpose. At the very least, Democrats can use them to expose Republicans’ extremism.

They can learn from Evan McMullin, the independent running for Utah’s Senate seat, who unmasked Lee’s role in the coup plot following the 2020 election. “When the barbarians were at the gate, you were happy to let them in,” he declared, noting Lee’s willingness to scrounge around for phony electors. He also slammed Lee for his Putin-friendly votes: “You’re the only member of Utah’s congressional delegation not to be blacklisted by Putin. ... There’s a reason,” McMullin said. “It’s because in 2017, Sen. Lee was one of only two senators to vote against sanctioning Putin’s regime. In 2019, he went to Russia alone and discussed lifting sanctions.”
Meanwhile, Ryan repeatedly blasted Vance during their debate for siding with the insurrectionists and for touting conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Ryan also forced Vance to expose his radical position on abortion with a nonsensical defense of bans with a time limit for rape and incest victims.
And in the Florida Senate debate, Democratic candidate Val Demings pulverized Rubio for refusing to act on guns, opposing a cap on insulin prices and prescription drug cost controls, and championing forced-birth policies. “As a police detective who investigated cases of rape and incest,” she declared, “no, Senator, I don’t think it’s okay for a 10-year-old girl to be raped and have to carry the seed of her rapist. No, I don’t think it’s okay for you to make decisions for women and girls.” Rubio looked utterly overwhelmed.

Put differently, debates allow Democrats to present themselves as a legitimate party trying to fashion rational solutions to real problems. Meanwhile, Republicans use them to show they couldn’t care less about all that governing business. Ending popular programs, stripping away legislative achievements and passing more tax cuts are all they’ve got. Confronted with a capable opponent and without the cushy confines of right-wing media (which accepts their inanities and conspiracy theories as fact), Republicans find it hard to conceal that they are captives to a cult of extremism.
If voters in less than three weeks select Republicans, they cannot claim ignorance of their Trump idolatry, their cruel views on abortion, their assault on government and their refusal to stand by democratic values. It’s nihilism vs. the center left. Take your pick.

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HR All-American
Sep 16, 2010
I couldn't disagree with that article more. The democratic party refuses to take the steps everyone knows will help the economy and the vast majority of Americans. 1. Stop spending. The less money the government spends and floods the economy with, the better for inflation. Roughly 1 out of every 4 dollars spent in this country is spent by the federal government, that needs to stop. 2. Bring as much American energy on line as possible the more oil, natural gas and coal the U.S. brings to market the lower the prices will go and the less we will be financing Putin and other despots. This will also help inflation. 3. Stop with the no cash bail, soft on crime defund the police nonsense. Americans need to feel safe and be safe and there are a finite number of people in the country that commit crimes. Have enough police to arrest them and keep them in jail and the crime rate will go down.

Until the democratic party embraces common sense ideas, the more blue collar workers, hispanics, women and other minorities will flee the party. The woke, LBGTQ%! crowd, race baiting slugs who want to steal decisions about their children from the parents and cancel anyone with different ideas have stolen a once proud patriotic party.