The Deal-Breakers At The GOP Debate

It’s rare these days that I choose a candidate based on “her values match mine” or “that’s exactly what I would do”. Instead, I find myself listing all the deal-breakers each candidate has, and trying to find the one with the least amount of deal-breakers. Because they all seem to have them.

You know the term. If you’re house-shopping, a deal-breaker is something you’ve decided in advance that simply cannot be in the house you decide to buy. A detached garage, for example, might be a deal-breaker for people who know the comfort and convenience of an attached garage. Or, too much work needs to be done before the house is livable. Mold in the walls. Tubs only — no showers. It’s different for each of us. If every house you found had a deal-breaker, you probably would just keep looking. We can’t do that in politics. One of the candidates will be the next office-holder.

Last night’s Republican “debate” was full of deal-breakers for me. (I put debate in quotes because these things never seem like debates to me. Usually just a confused mess of people talking over each other, failing to answer questions, or a series of mini-speeches by a bunch of candidates.)

Ohio Governor John Kasich had the first one for me, which was a surprise; I’d been led to believe he was a moderate. Right off the bat, he said he wanted to cut taxes for corporations. For the bleeping corporations! And he kept calling them “job creators”, which is code for “I’m in the pocket of these corporations”. He insisted, despite all evidence to the contrary, that cutting corporate taxes and removing regulations will result in rising wages. Anyone who knows anything about economics knows that no corporation has ever created a job that it didn’t require. Any corporation worth its salt will cut any job possible, lower any salary possible, remove any benefit possible, to maintain or increase profits. That’s how capitalism works.

Jeb Bush was next, listing Dodd-Frank as one of the things “that have gone wrong in this country”, despite the only thing being wrong with it is that Republicans (and a few Democrats) gutted it of its strength before it was signed into law.

Ben Carson repeatedly insisted that “progressives” and “secular progressives” are what’s wrong with this country, that we are trying to drive out the idea that “there is such a thing as wrong or right”. It’s a deal-breaker to me because it means he doesn’t know the meaning of either secular or progressive, and because he doesn’t realize our very nation is secular and progressive.

Kasich came back for more, saying fracking is a good thing, even clarifying: “we must make sure we continue to frack.”

Trump reiterated and confirmed his position that discriminating against refugees based on their religion must be the first step to “solve the problem” — and he clarified that he was referring to “all the problems all over the world”. In the same response, he added, surprisingly, and without explanation: “the police are the most mistreated people in this country”, showing he’s completely unhinged (to use Bush’s word) and ill-equipped to be president.

Then Chris Christie added a deal-breaker of his own, saying it was a bad decision to end the NSA’s authority to spy on every American.

Ted Cruz, who had been careful up to this point to speak only in vague platitudes or using rhetoric to twist the truth, just came out and said we should not accept any refugees from countries controlled by ISIL or Al Qaeda. None.

Marco Rubio said “all of the rules” of the Environmental Protection Agency are “hurting us”.

Christie joined with most of the others in saying corporate taxes had to be cut, and repeated the untruth that doing so would create jobs. He somehow concluded that lowering the tax rate on corporations would provide enough money to “rebuild those roads and bridges and tunnels that you were talking about”.

Cruz and Carson both brought up their flat tax proposals, with Carson clarifying there would be no exemptions or deductions for anyone. Carson went further, and said that “every regulation is a tax” and that we need to get rid of them. He explained: “It’s the evil government that is — that is putting all these regulations on us so that we can’t survive.” To me it seems like lunacy to say the reason for government regulations is that the government is evil and doesn’t want us to survive.

Rubio somehow turned an argument about immigration into a statement that “Edward Snowden is a traitor”, threatening to put him on trial for treason, an open threat to any future whistleblower who wants to curtail the government’s secret, unconstitutional activities.

Bush said he would “try to convince” heads of large technology companies to share citizen’s private data with the government.


I skipped over quite a bit of truth-twisting, name-calling, and outright lying — which seems fairly normal for politics — and focused only on their outright statements that disqualify them for my vote. If this was a fact-checking blog entry, it would have been much longer.

To be fair, most of the candidates said stuff I agree with, at some point, and I did think some of their criticism of President Obama was accurate. Unlike some liberal fear-mongers, I don’t think any of them would completely ruin our nation. Time and time again, we’ve seen fire-brand candidates become tame bureaucrats once inaugurated — because they learn then that living in the White House doesn’t give a person the power that our election spectacles seem to indicate.

Based on the entire transcript of the debate, if I was forced to vote for one of these men, I would be very sad indeed. Fortunately, I’m only evaluating one debate and don’t have to vote for any of them. My impression is that Trump and Cruz came out out of it the strongest — mainly by avoiding specifics. This does not mean I think either of them would make a better president than the others; just that in this debate, they were more careful.

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