For Americans, partisanship can be a medal of honor.
For some reason, ideological views and party go hand-in-hand in this country—the Republican is usually deemed right-wing and the Democrat usually left-wing.
For those who understand the correlation between party and ideology, this fact likely seems illogical. The recent Republican presidential candidate debates have served as an indicator as to why Americans relate their party affiliations with their ideologies. GOP presidential candidates are busy defending their personal ideologies before they defend the U.S. as a whole.
For instance, the Sept. 12 CNN-Tea Party Express debate was highlighted by a disheartening but revealing verbal showdown between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann regarding campaign donations.
For those who did not watch, Bachmann pointed to the financial support Perry received in his most recent gubernatorial campaign from a drug maker, Merck, that funded a Human Papaloma Virus vaccine that may, in some cases, have neurological side effects.
Bachmann, in an attempt to stake her claim as an advocate for young women, impulsively accused Perry of accepting donations from the company while, essentially, lecturing him on where he went wrong. She criticized Perry’s mandatory HPV vaccination program for young women in Texas. She later took the opportunity to state that she had met a mother whose daughter was “mentally retarded” due to the vaccine. Neither situation was exactly tactful.
Perry, always seeking to uplift his gubernatorial accomplishments, defended himself by stating that the $5,000 he received from Merck was only a small portion of the $30 million he raised for that campaign.
Furthermore, he said he was “offended” that Bachmann would assume he could be “bought” for such a low amount.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a tactless political lose-lose. No solution to the conflict and a pair of self-righteous arguments.
As the only woman present at these debates as a candidate for president, Bachmann should be given the right to provide commentary and perspective on social issues in which women are marginalized and limited.
These are areas where the male candidates should not have the say Bachmann does.
She chose instead to reveal her selfish motives by attacking Perry, who also happens to be the leader in polls.
A dark horse in the debates was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a familiar GOP face.
In both debates, Gingrich criticized his fellow Republicans for the amount of in-fighting that has taken place in the party of late that has led to what he called “mistakes,” specifically surrounding important legislation like President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan.
Gingrich’s rhetoric was smart in that he is making an attempt to encourage party unity, but his focus should be shifted to congressional unity instead.
Gingrich is smart to unite his party in a time like this, but that’s only half the issue at hand.
First, President Obama and Speaker Boehner must be able to communicate for the good of the country.
Fellow dark horse Rep. Ron Paul of Texas continues his Libertarian commentary regarding the government’s involvement in Americans’ personal matters.
In a May 5 debate, Paul referred to “the defense of liberty,” which he also mentioned when it came to Perry’s connection to the aforementioned HPV vaccine. Paul, who practiced medicine for many years prior to his political career, chose to view the issue from a social perspective, which made for a more reserved assessment.
The trite phrase of the GOP debates has been “job creation.”
Because Mitt Romney, Sen. John Hunstman and Perry are all former or current governors, each makes an attempt to, once again, point the attention to himself.
According to his website and comments at the debates, Perry added 220,000 net new jobs from June 2010 to June 2011.
Unfortunately, according to August reports by The Dallas Morning News and The Houston Chronicle, 18.3 percent of said created jobs in that period were created in the public sector, specifically in local and state government. Ten percent of those jobs were created in the private sector, making that 220,000 a tad misleading.
When it comes to Romney, fellow candidates are quick to point to the fact that he ranked 47th in job creation in his time as governor of Massachusetts.
Hunstman, according to his campaign website, was first in job creation in his time as governor of Utah.
Overall, there is too much “me” speech amongst Republicans in the recent debates.
Also, issues that have been afterthoughts in these debates such as gay marriage, military spending and health care must be further addressed at the next debate on Sept. 22.
As election season progresses, it is important for Republicans to understand that they must assess the issues the country is facing before reinforcing what they have done in their political careers.
Wyatt Kanyer is a senior news-editorial and Spanish major from Yakima, Wash.