September 13 2011

A good candidate is hard to find

The Hill

Feminist groups spend a lot of time lamenting the ways women "trail behind" men. They're especially concerned about the shortage of women in political leadership positions. But after last night's GOP debate, I began to question why we're so concerned about the shortage of women in politics, when we clearly have a shortage of good men as well.

Suffice it to say we have a dearth of good people running for president.

I was largely disappointed by last night's debate in Tampa, Fla., in which the front-runners either failed to evince a strong grasp of free-market, limited-government principles (Romney) or, perhaps, just couldn't articulate them (Perry).

Romney was polished behind the podium; but in his fluency he revealed his true colors. What's clear is Romney has the good looks, but only a loose grip when it comes to conservative/free-market principles.

When questioned on "RomneyCare," for instance, he did everything in his power to ignore the fact that the Massachusetts plan was the model for ObamaCare. What's more, he continued to push for government (read: state governments) to organize health insurance, rather than organizations (per Cain's example) or - gasp! - individuals (thank you, Paul). What's more, he covered up his discomfort with individual choice and freedom with snarky comments like, "I'm not running for governor. I'm running for president." Well, Governor, that doesn't exactly help clarify where you stand on the issue of the individual mandate.

And speaking of mandates, Romney apparently felt he had carte blanche to toe the Democratic line on the issue of Social Security. Not only did he - yet again - fail to address the fiscal and moral failings of the program, but he seemed to have no qualms with the very concept of government mandating that Americans pay into a disingenuous, opaque, failing system.

While I was hopeful Perry would provide some principled clarity, he faltered time and time again. Last week Perry appeared to be on the right side of the Social Security issue; but last night he already started to backtrack. He seemed to be sputtering, unable to explain why Social Security is, in fact, a "Ponzi scheme."

The candidates all agreed the system is "broken," but none got to the heart of the matter - that Social Security functions by mandating that everyone participate. What's more, no one - including Bachmann or Cain - mentioned the fact that Social Security disproportionately hurts women and minorities. And Perry was one-upped by Cain, who came closest to at least acknowledging potential alternatives like personal accounts, which would yield higher rates of return, increase personal ownership, and decrease dependence on the federal government.

In the end, I want to see a candidate who understands not just policy, but principle. It's not enough to reform or repeal programs. We need a candidate who envisions an economy in which the government no longer takes center stage.

Much to feminists' chagrin, Bachmann may have come closest to grasping that concept last night when she said, "For years, politicians have run on the idea that government is going to buy people more stuff and that the federal government would be taking care of people's prescription drugs, their retirement, their healthcare, their housing, their food."

For that I'll take a man, woman, goat, or purple polka-dotted monster.

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