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The Republicans’ Acid Reflux Syndrome

Presidential candidates are long on blame, short on solutions.

August 4, 2015

Presidential candidates are long on blame, short on solutions.

This week Americans interested in politics will have the opportunity to look into the belly of the beast – a beast beset by a bad case of acid reflux.

This Thursday’s Republican Presidential Debate will once again lay bare Conservative politics in the United States at its very worst.

The candidates will pander shamelessly to donors, “independent” political operatives and key vested interest groups. But they will be most shameless when they pander to the extremist strains that run like so many red threads through the fabric of American politics.

What to expect on Thursday

Here are some things you can count on during the debate:

The candidates will promise, once elected, to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). But not a single one of the candidates will have the slightest idea about what, if anything, should take its place.

The candidates will uniformly condemn the Nuclear Deal with Iran and commit, once elected, to reject it. Sure, none of the candidates has a clue about what to do next about Iran. But then, that’s par for the course.

The ISIS problem is the same. We need to do more to stop ISIS, they will uniformly insist. But not a single one of them will propose doing anything other than what we are doing now.

A persistent pattern

This pattern of being against just about everything, while being wholly unable to present a rational counter position, is consistent throughout the GOP.

They will, in one way or another, be against comprehensive immigration reform. The counter proposals include building a 2,000-mile long wall on the Mexican border and putting twelve million men, women and children onto buses and “shipping them back.” In other words, they have nothing real to offer.

Forget climate change. The GOP hasn’t even gotten to the point of accepting the notion that climate change may actually be happening, let alone having a plan to deal with it.

And then there’s Vladimir Putin. It is fairly certain that every one of the Republican candidates, if asked about him, will roundly condemn the Russian President in unambiguous terms.

Aside from vague assertions like “I’d stand up to him” and “He’ll learn he can’t push us around,” there will be nothing of substance to follow.

The candidates will blame President Obama and the Democrats for the wage disparities that are dividing classes all across America. Their only solutions will be to lower taxes on the so-called “job creators” and to “get government out of the way.” There will be no practical thoughts on how they might go about accomplishing these laudable goals.

The GOP does have solutions

When it comes to social issues, they do happen to have solutions. The candidates will want to ban abortion and some will want to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage. Really?

The simple fact is that the GOP has been able to put its finger on some of America’s most challenging issues, but it has been wholly unable to come up with viable solutions. And when party leaders present the details of their solutions, the electorate roundly rejects them.

So, instead of presenting solutions, the candidates’ rhetoric on Thursday night will inevitably try to find legitimacy in highly ideological concepts and principles.

Some of this rhetoric will be lofty. The one thing you can pretty much bank on is that each and every one of the candidates will reference the constitution.

Or they will explain the intentions of the founding fathers. Or they will quote Ronald Reagan – the greatest founding father of them all!

Of course this lofty rhetoric will be selectively chosen. The second amendment shall be sacrosanct when it comes owning guns. Not so much the fourth amendment when it comes to NSA spying.

Most of the candidates will emphasize their deep faith. Some will quote the Holy Bible.

Seeking refuge in zealotry

But here’s the thing. So much of what will be said will be said with zeal. Purple language will be employed.

Rather than suggesting that there may be some holes in the Iran deal, for example, President Obama will be accused of leading the Jews to the oven doors.

Similarly, instead of ISIS being a real regional threat, it will be presented as an existential threat to America itself.

Sure, this sort of zealotry provides political theater, but it also divides the electorate along inflexible and unforgiving lines.

The candidates can’t be expected to lay out real policy solutions in the ten minutes they are given on the debate stage. But they have no policy solutions beyond the debate stage.

So, the one change that can be expected from Republicans in Thursday’s debate is that in addition to moaning about President Obama, they are also likely to moan about Hillary Clinton – all without a single solution in sight.


Being against everything and unable to present a rational alternative is characteristic of the GOP.

When the GOP presents details of their solutions, the electorate roundly rejects them.

Zealotry provides political theater but it also divides the electorate along unforgiving lines.