We left off Saturday discussing how religious freedom plays an important role in the Republican platform.
Immigration seemed to be the next most important issue. The candidates have differing opinions – from Donald Trump’s impractical, non-implementable, and uncompassionate “deport them all immediately and build a wall like Berlin,” to Jeb Bush’s policy based on compassionate conservatism (the view most likely capable of winning in the general elections).
IMMIGRATION IS AN important point for the candidates to be focused on. But more important than what to do with undocumented individuals already here is how to secure the border. This is a serious issue, and Trump should be credited with forcing people to deal with it. It is a fact in the security infrastructure of our country that the Islamic State has individuals here – not ISIS sympathizers, but ISIS. We know al-Qaida has cells here – not sympathizers; cells. We also know Iran has intelligence operatives here.
We know how many of these entered the country: illegally, through the U.S.-Mexican border, with help from the drug cartels. Thus, it would behoove the candidates to issue policy stances on how to defend the border, rather than focusing on the undocumented.
And it’s more than just a wall. Troops are needed; drones are needed; and secure fencing is needed. Perhaps we need a wall, but the focus should be on security, not illegal immigrants.
If they were more calculating and Machiavellian, the Republican candidates would understand that you can’t win the independent vote, or turn any Democrats, if you don’t appear understanding to the plight of 11 million people already here. The focus can’t be on deportation. It is impracticable to uproot millions of people with families established here and foundations laid for a better future.
Did they break the law by entering illegally? Yes. Do they deserve to be treated as less than human because of this? No. Do they deserve to be penalized for their illegal entry? Yes, and that is also where the candidates differ. But you can’t win the general election if you don’t show empathy.
THE FOCUS SHOULD be on how to fairly penalize those already here that are, other than the obvious, law-abiding individuals. Mark my words, one cannot win with an approach different from this.
Besides immigration, reforming the tax code and defunding Planned Parenthood top the Republican agenda. On the tax code, they all are correct that it needs to be greatly reformed, with loopholes closed, and taxes need to be raised more fairly. Not fairer in the socialist sense, but more fair in the flat tax or Fair Tax sense.
Outlining this position has been popular. What they have failed to outline is how to rid the country of the IRS to implement their particular alternatives. It is unclear that this is even possible. Thus, it would behoove them to be more substantive in this particular issue and give details. One cannot just deport 11 million people overnight any more than one can take down an enormous government bureaucracy. Political skill and specifics are needed to do both.
Outlining a Fair Tax or flat tax may win over primary voters, but how will it affect general election voters? Should this be the focus of a presidential debate or platform of a party?
The next serious theme of the debate is on defunding Planned Parenthood. This is a complex issue that tugs at the emotional strings on both sides. There is no mistaking the ISIS-like barbarity of these PP videos and of late-term abortion. But the candidates, if they wish to uproot the Democratic hold on the White House, must have straightforward policies on why being pro-life is not being anti-women—something Jeb Bush learned very quickly – and how one would actually dismantle the funding scheme set in place.
ALTHOUGH THIS issue is literally about life and death (though progressives view it in terms of privacy and reproductive rights), the candidates need to think long-term: How can they express to voters now their plans on reforming an industry that about 50 percent of America supports, and that progressives unfairly but successfully attack opponents on as “anti-woman,” without losing independent voters in the general election?
Until next time, I await your educated comments.
(The writer is an assistant political science professor at Augusta University. You can follow him on Twitter – @polscountrydoc.)