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The GOP Presidential Field’s Brightest Ideas
Your retinas may never recover from taking a look.
THE FIELD OF CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR the Republican nomination for president is, if not set, then at least coming together. More than a dozen candidates have announced, all brimming with bright ideas. What ideas are they brimming with? What would they like to see happen? Here’s a look at some of the goals being advanced by the men and woman who would be president.
Stop Whining About Racism
It’s no wonder the GOP candidates for governor think it’s great that the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions, because they all agree: Racism in America is a thing of the past. (You might even say it’s a thing for the history books, except that it’s being removed from those, too.)
For proof, one need look no further than the fact that three of the presidential contenders (Tim Scott, Larry Elder, and Will Hurd) are black, two (Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramswamy) are Indian Americans, and one (Francis Suarez) is of Cuban descent. That leaves just seven white guys (Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis, Asa Hutchinson, Chris Christie, Doug Burgum, and Perry Johnson) in the race, making them practically but not really a minority.
Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has been especially ardent in insisting that the nation’s original sin is now all atoned for, declaring flatly that the United States is not a racist country. In a June 21 op-ed in the Daily Mail, she took Barack Obama to task for having taken her to task for saying such a thing.
“How far have we come?” Haley demanded. “So far that Barack Obama was elected president. So far that I am now running for president. If America was racist, none of this would have happened—full stop.”
If only all the nation’s problems were this easy to solve.
Restore Tribute to Despised General
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence are both up in arms over the recent decision to give the North Carolina military base Fort Bragg a new name: Fort Liberty. DeSantis decried this move as “political correctness run amok” while Pence vowed at the state’s GOP convention that, when he is president, “North Carolina will once again be home to Fort Bragg.”
As Washington Post contributor Ronald G. Shafer has noted, apart from the obvious wokeness-baiting, it’s a strange cause. Bragg is widely regarded as the Confederacy’s “worst and most hated general,” one known for being a virulent racist and “merciless tyrant.” A dozen of Bragg’s own officers petitioned Jefferson Davis to replace him. Bragg ultimately did have to resign, after a humiliating battlefield defeat.
In a letter written after the war, Confederate officer William Dudley Hale described Bragg as “obstinate but without firmness, ruthless without enterprise, crafty yet without stratagem, suspicious, envious, jealous, vain, a bantam in success and a dunghill in disaster.”
Boy, it would sure be grand to get his name back on that base.
Turn the Whole Country into Florida
This is the heart and soul of DeSantis’s bid for the nation’s top job—the idea that what he has achieved in the Sunshine State can be replicated across the land. As he recently tweeted: “We cannot allow our country to descend into a woketopia where freedoms are infringed and the truth is discarded. Florida is proof that America can do better.”
Government control over what teachers can teach and local cranks with veto power over what students can read. Endless divisive bickering over hyped-up culture war causes, like CRT (critical race theory) and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investment. Know-nothing defiance of public health measures. Draconian restrictions on reproductive choice. Job-killing clashes with Mickey Mouse. What’s not to like?
Crack Down Even Harder on Abortion
Speaking to other Christian conservatives in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the anniversary of the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, Pence opined, “Every Republican candidate for president should support a ban on abortion before 15 weeks as a minimum nationwide standard.” He probably meant “after” 15 weeks, but that’s not what he said, and you never know. What Pence made clear was that he wants access to legal abortion to be further constrained: “We must not rest and we must not relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in every state in this country.”
At the same event, DeSantis hailed Florida’s signed-into-law-but-not-yet-implemented ban on abortion after six weeks as “the right thing to do.” And South Carolina Representative Tim Scott put it like this: “Thank God almighty for the Dobbs decision.” The actual God almighty had no comment.
Stop Giving Money to Countries that Hate Us
Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, has made this a centerpiece of her campaign, pledging at a recent town hall meeting, “When I am president, we will no longer give money to countries that hate America.” She mentioned in particular Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, and Cuba.
Yes, she said, “We give money to Communist Cuba, who we named a state sponsor of terrorism.” This refers, presumably, to the $2 million in emergency relief that the Biden administration provided last fall to Cuban victims of Hurricane Ian. Can you imagine how much safer we’d all be if this rare humanitarian gesture were thwarted? Perhaps the money could be redirected to our friends, like Saudi Arabia—the intensely repressive country that most of the 9/11 attackers called home, which has received tens of billions of dollars in U.S. military aid in recent years. Yes, tens of billions is way more than $2 million.
Pardon Donald Trump
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, hoping to make a name for himself, is leading the pack of GOP presidential contenders in how fervently he is promising to forgive Donald Trump for any and all transgressions against democracy and the Constitution.
“I commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025, and to restore the rule of law in our country,” Ramaswamy proclaimed shortly after the former president was indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents. He went further, calling on “candidates in both parties, regardless of our political interests, to either stand against what I see as a politicized prosecution and say so and commit to a pardon or else explain why.”
A few other Republicans, eager to please the man they must defeat to become their party’s nominee, have indicated that they, too, are leaning to a pardon, as Trump has demanded. These include Haley, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, and conservative talk-radio host Larry Elder.
Meanwhile, Pence, DeSantis, Scott, and North Dakota Governor Burgum have all sought to straddle the fence, suggesting there is something wrong with what Trump did but something wronger about prosecuting him for it. Pence, for instance, has said, “This indictment contains serious charges, and I cannot defend what is alleged,” but also that he “can’t believe that politics didn’t play some role here” and that he will, if elected, “clean house” at the Justice Department. On this issue generally, Pence has said a lot of things.
Blame Immigrants for Fentanyl Deaths
All of the candidates for the GOP nomination for president are pretty worked up over illegals in our midst, but none more than Scott.
“On my first day as Commander-in-Chief, the strongest nation on Earth will stop retreating from our own southern border,” he bellows from his campaign website. “If we want to prevent deadly drugs like fentanyl from infiltrating our communities, we need to stop the illegal immigrants who bring them across our borders . . . either with a strong border wall or by military force.”
The only problem with this analysis is that it’s wrong. As the Washington Post reported earlier this year, “U.S. citizens comprise 86 percent of fentanyl trafficking convictions in 2021, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency of the federal judiciary branch.” The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, reported that just 0.02 percent of illegally crossing immigrants arrested by border agents had fentanyl on them. Moreover, the Post found that “[Customs and Border Patrol] data show the drug is overwhelmingly smuggled through U.S. ports of entry—the official crossings—which account for more than 96 percent of fentanyl seizures along the border since the start of the 2023 fiscal year on Oct. 1.” Nearly all border smuggling is happening in California and Arizona, not the entire Southern border.
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Rattle the Saber on China
Asa Hutchinson, the allegedly moderate former governor from Arkansas, has offered strong words on the matter of U.S.-China relations, promising to have a trade partnership with China “that protects American interests and promotes American ideals,” whatever that means. He’ll also make China “answer the tough questions surrounding COVID-19,” so it can be held accountable. Haley has called Communist China “the greatest threat to American security and prosperity by far. We need a leader who will rally our people to meet this threat on every single front.” She’s criticized Trump for doing “too little” about the Chinese communist menace.
Perhaps most eager to get into a brawl with China is DeSantis. He boasts of signing into law, in early May, bills that treat China as an enemy. They ban Chinese purchases of land near military bases and critical infrastructure, keep sensitive data from servers “that might be owned by entities affiliated with the CCP,” and prohibit the “Chinese influence that we rooted out of higher education from working its way into our primary and secondary education institutions.” Florida, he crowed, “has once again taken the lead in protecting American interests from foreign threats and has provided a blueprint for other states to do the same.”
Meanwhile, some candidates are still learning. Miami Mayor Suarez drew a blank last week when asked on a radio show about Chinese persecution of the Uyghurs, a 12 million member ethnic minority group. “What’s a Uyghur?,” he replied. The host, Hugh Hewitt, chided Suarez’s unpreparedness, saying “You’ve got to get smart on that.” Suarez replied, “I’m a fast learner.” That’s good: China’s ongoing repression of the Uyghurs is actually an issue that merits further attention—as opposed to continuing to ask the same probably unanswerable questions about whether China cooked up COVID in a lab or instead failed to contain its natural emergence and prevent its subsequent jump into the human world by way of a seafood market.
Get Serious About That National Debt, Maybe?
Businessman Perry Johnson is running on one main issue—to eradicate the crushing debt he says is destroying the economy. He asserts on his website that “Joe Biden isn’t even trying, sending Congress a ‘budget’ with a $1.2 TRILLION dollar deficit in 2023. His plan will balloon our debt to $50 trillion!” He also boasts that “I proudly supported President Trump in 2016 and 2020 and could very easily support him in 2024,” even though he thinks politicians of both parties, presumably including Trump, “have failed to provide adequate solutions” to the nation’s most woeful woe. Trump ran up the debt by almost $7.8 trillion during his time in office—meaning Biden, without even trying, has done a much better job of reining it in.
Fight the Root Cause of Crime: Democrats
The GOP rivals seem to agree on one thing: U.S. cities have been turned into a dystopian hellscape in which criminals operate with impunity and the nation’s streets flow with blood. Asserts Elder, “We’ve all seen shocking videos from Democrat-run cities of criminals casually looting stores, harassing residents, and assaulting passersby.” One engine driving this horror, he claimed in an earlier version of his website text, is the willingness of the Dems to “sacrifice public safety just to appease a naive and corrupt minority who falsely accuses police officers of ‘systemic racism.’” It’s not as though there is any video evidence that racism is a persisting problem among police officers, right?
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, meanwhile, recently said this about the criminal justice system in the bureau of Manhattan: “It is a danger zone to go into Manhattan because [District Attorney] Alvin Bragg is running a revolving door and not prosecuting gun crime, not prosecuting violent criminals and if he does, he lets them out within four hours of when they’re arrested to commit more crimes.” But according to the NYPD, while crime rates across the city have remained relatively flat over the past year, shooting incidents, which Bragg has described as a priority issue for his office, were down almost a fifth in Manhattan in the first quarter of this year. Bragg is also showing his commitment to crime-fighting by prosecuting Trump for falsifying business records.
Unleash Artificial Intelligence
While scientists warn that making machines much smarter than humans could cause some major hiccups, like making all sorts of jobs obsolete and having machines recognize our dispensability and kill us all, former Texas Representative Will Hurd, a late arrival to the race, can’t wait for the future to arrive. “I envision an America where the economy thrives because we harness technologies like artificial intelligence to grow American jobs, not unemployment,” he says in a campaign video. He told CBS News he is “pissed” that the issue isn’t getting more attention. The machines are madder still.
Here are just of a few of the things the former president has pledged to do if re-elected:
Issue pardons and a government apology to participants in the January 6th assault on the Capitol that he incited.
Require police departments across the country to engage in the discredited practice of “Stop and Frisk” that was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in New York.
Punish doctors who perform gender-affirming care for transgender minors. The American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics both strongly support providing this care to minors.
Subject “everyone who . . . gets caught selling drugs” to the death penalty—unless, presumably, they happen to work for the pharmaceutical industry that caused the opioid crisis.
Hold a national contest to design up to ten new U.S. “Freedom Cities” to be built on federal land that would include vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles and “baby bonuses” to encourage procreation.
Use the U.S. Justice Department to exact retribution against his political rivals, notably including the current president: “I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of America, Joe Biden, and go after the Biden crime family.”
Here’s another bright idea to add to the mix: Don’t forget to vote.