The GOP Debate: 5 Take-Aways From A Christian Objectivist Libertarian
Yes, I said debates. I watched both. All 5 hours of them.
Now before we get into the debate, lets be clear. This is a Christian Objectivist Libertarian interpretation.
I know, that’s a mouthful.
Let me break it down for you:
- Christian. This should be self-explanatory. No other comments are necessary.
- Objectivist. Objectivism is the name Ayn Rand gave her philosophy on life. When her ideas hit politics, they often look Libertarian in nature, but there are subtle and important differences.
- Libertarian. Libertarianism has a loose definition and covers a broad range of political ideas. But libertarians usually agree on a strict adherence to the Constitution. And their ideas usually revolve around the principle of individual rights. Meaning, the government’s only job, as laid out by the Constitution, is to protect the individual.
It would just be easier to say that I’m libertarian, but sometimes Ayn Rand’s differing ideas pop out. And if I simply said I was objectivist, most people wouldn’t know what that meant.
So here are my 5 big take-aways from the debate.
1. This Presidential Campaign Will Be A Depressing Road For Libertarians.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but this campaign is dominated by more “conventional” conservatism (if anyone can call Trump conventional). I know they have different ideas on things, but they usually agree on the main tenants of conservatism, which often offend liberals and libertarians alike.
As much as I want Rand Paul to win the Presidency, I just don’t think he can. The country isn’t ready for that yet. The philosophical ideas behind libertarianism have not spread far enough. They are spreading, and in a few years we may see a change, but too many people still see Rand Paul as a right-winged extremist. He is doing a good job trying to moderate his language and appeal to more traditional conservatives, but I don’t think it will work. Sadly. That being said, I like what he is doing, and he is advancing the cause very well. He gets my vote.
So, we need to be realists. Unless a miracle occurs, a traditional conservative is going to win the GOP nomination.
2. Biggest “Throw-up In The Mouth” Moments
There were two moments that frustrated me the most. One in the JV debate, and one in the main debate.
The JV Debate
Ms. Davis has the right to believe whatever she wants. But when she decides to work for the state–an entity that by law cannot discriminate based on religion–then she must either put those beliefs aside, or quit.
She is not being persecuted.
No one is forcing her to work there. No one is forcing her to give up her faith. No one is forcing her to do something with which she does not agree.
Now, forcing a baker to bake a cake for a wedding they don’t support… that is a different story. And to equate the two shows a real lack of understanding when it comes to government and civics. And if you can’t distinguish between the two, then you shouldn’t be president.
The Main Debate: Legal Marijuana
With the exception of Rand Paul, every candidate wants to use the lethal force of government against individuals who are causing ZERO harm to others.
That’s all I have to say about that.
3. We Need To Take Trump Seriously
People keep writing Trump off thinking he’ll implode or someone else will overtake him. I think last night’s debate was the final nail in that coffin.
Trump can hold his own. He can act civil. He can apologize in a way that doesn’t leave egg on his face. He has real ideas for this country. And he is smart.
He isn’t going anywhere. If we don’t want Trump for president, then we have to take a different approach, because he just seems to be gaining steam.
A moment of honesty: I think we could do a lot worse than Trump. But if he wins the GOP nomination, I am worried that Hillary (or whomever) will win the presidency. Trump is a wildcard. And I don’t know if he can pull independent and undecided voters.
So, if we want a Republican in office (and we pray that Rand wins), then we need to take Trump seriously and consider him a real contender/threat for the nomination.
4. Chris Christie Was Born Again
His campaign manager must have told him, “Everyone thinks you’re buddy-buddy with Obama and that you’re just a democrat in republican’s clothing, so you should do something about that.” And he did. He came across–for the first time–as a strong conservative.
But it didn’t seem genuine, considering his tone for the last several years. I think that will hurt him with people who have been following the candidates for a while. But it may help him with people who are just tuning in. We’ll see.
5. My List of Winners and Losers
Alright, here it is. Everyone is doing it, so I must as well. Here is my list of winners and losers.
- Lindsey Graham. He was in the JV debate, but he deserves to be on the stage with the big guns. I don’t like all of his policy decisions. But I can’t help but like the guy. He is a realist, and I think he can appeal to the right and the middle. He has some good ideas, and comes across as a likeable, but intelligent person.UPDATE: Apparently Mr. Graham supported the indefinite detention clause of the NDAA. That, in my mind, disqualifies him to be president. However, I still think he performed well in the debate, and he will probably do well with those who watched it.
- Jeb Bush. Bush did a good job this time around. He came out strong and stood prominently in the spotlight. I don’t like many of his ideas as well, but I do like his overall persona. I know I’ll be branded a heretic for saying that about another Bush, but I thought he did very well.
- Trump. Like I said earlier, he is a real candidate, and a real threat. I think he may have won the whole debate, but I’ll let the media decide that. Again, I don’t like all of his ideas, and I’m not sure I trust the guy, but he came across as competent, confident but also oddly humble (I know, right?), practical, and brings a perspective to the table no one else does.
- Rand Paul. Of the little time he got, I thought he did very well. Except for the marijuana discussion. He is unique in his views, but he didn’t communicate them well. Instead of going after the principled reason for legalization, he went after the “cause and effect” method. Maybe his campaign said that was best. But it implies that legalization depends on marijuana’s effect on society, not on the government’s role in people’s lives. Other then that, I thought he did very well.And I have a crazy thought. I think Trump likes him. And I think Trump knows what his criticism does: It puts people in the spotlight. I think Trump mocked him to help him get some attention. And I believe he got more stage time this time around because of Trumps comments. But, that is just my opinion.
- Chris Christie… just barely. He was forceful, made his positions strong, and stood his ground. I don’t like a lot of his policy decisions (or his sudden change of tone), but I think people will like his performance and he will stay in the fight for a little longer. But unless something dramatic happens, I don’t think he’ll make through primary season.
- Santorum. This guy is struggling. And even though he speaks the same language for a big block of people, he came across as defensive and on the ropes. I don’t think he’ll last much longer.
- Fiorina. I know many people like her, but I don’t think she’ll last. She may get a brief bump in the poles, but she doesn’t stand out enough. She fades into the background too quickly. She is too vanilla. She seems to lack the charisma needed to gain traction.
- Carson. See above. He seems like a smart guy, but has very low energy. I don’t think he’ll be able to hold people’s attention for long.
- Kasich. I can’t even remember what he said for most of the night. And I’m not sure I even remember what he looks like. So that says something.
- Walker. He was big on the radar for a while, but he seems to be retreating into a cave of obscurity. He may pop back onto the screen, but at this point it looks like he is losing steam.
So, there you go. There were others, but I can’t really remember them, so that says something as well.
Again, these are just my interpretations for those who care. I could be totally wrong.
Either way, it was an entertaining (and frustrating) evening!
About Sean Edwards
Sean Edwards is an author and a communication strategist. He graduated from the Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history. Sean has a passion for discussing philosophy and American politics.