Why Do These Presidential Debates Even Matter?

As the pastor goes, so goes the church, and as the president goes, so goes the nation.

I realize people are tired of politics, and they are tired of the non-stop news coverage – especially of the top four candidates: Trump, Cruz, Clinton, and Sanders, but consider this fact, choosing a president is one of the biggest decisions we, as citizens, make in our lifetime. Some individuals diminish the task by saying, “they’re all corrupt,” or “I just hate politics,” but when you don’t vote, or even worse, you don’t know what the candidates even stand for – you are part of the problem in this country.

Now I don’t want you all to feel too guilty because we live in an extremely busy world. Most of us are doing good to know if the stock market is going up or down – let alone know the policy positions of each presidential candidate. That’s why debates are important, and that’s where I step in. I will use my weekly blog to help you absorb this massive amount of information as you peruse Facebook. Simple enough, right?

So let’s get to it.

TheĀ “Undercard” Debate

Despite the four candidates on the stage – Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Jim Gilmore – being all but written off by most political pundits, the room in Iowa was nearly packed. This is a good sign for one reason: we should consider all candidates (even the ones we think areĀ really bad) and assess what is good and bad about them.

This analysis will help us in two ways. First, it helps you when you find your way into that awkward policy squabble with you co-worker or when you have to fight it out with your family on a touchy issue. As Ted Cruz has said, ‘facts are stubborn things,’ and arming yourself with the facts will make your life immensely easier. Second, you may open your eyes to new ideas in the process.

So back to the debate…

This debate was only an hour long and here are my main take-aways:

  • All the “undercard” candidates were upset with the media and the moderators for segregating candidates, focusing too heavily on Trump (i.e. front-runners), and ruling out candidates based on polling, which has proved to be a rather inaccurate measuring tool in the past (see 2012 GOP polls in Iowa prior to the caucus).
  • Fiorina propositioned the Iowan voters with policies of zero-based budgeting, using an app to poll Americans while in the White House (instead of listening to lobbyists), and passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (similar to Scott Walker’s abortion bill that passed in Wisconsin, bans abortion at 20 weeks and later).
  • Santorum pledged to make the nation the number one manufacturing nation once again through his flat tax policy and his repatriation agreement, which would bring money back to America from foreign nations with a maximum tax rate of 10 percent.
    • He also made a closing statement that sounded more like a ‘bowing-out’ of the race speech, but that’s just my opinion.
  • Huckabee attacked the corporately financed politicians and made some good quips about ISIS (‘we don’t contain cancer, we irradiate it’) and Bernie Sander’s free college plan (‘the government will make a mess out of it and you will be paying for college when you’re 30, 40, 50…’), but he failed to insert his policy stances into the debate.
  • Gilmore – you probably are confused who this is, and that’s okay, this is the first time poor Jim polled high enough to be on the stage. He complained about not getting enough time to speak, elaborated on his resume (military intelligence agent and former governor of Virginia), but his policy stances were essentially limited to ‘leave GITMO open’ and the ‘V.A. is failing.’

Interesting side note: Huckabee and Santorum went to Trump’s veteran’s rally after the debate because ‘they had nothing better to do at 8 o’clock.’

Now for the “Prime Time” Debate

If you turned on your TV today, you already watched everyone’s quips, zingers, and stumbles, so I’m going to focus on actual policy that was revealed during the debate.

In polling order, highest to lowest:

  • Trump – wasn’t there, and it was a breath of fresh air (okay, that was my opinion).
  • Cruz:
    • Intends to use his tax plan to grow the economy, which will then fund his increasing of the military
    • Plans to repeal the ACA (“Obamacare”) by 1. Allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines thereby stimulating competition and lower rates 2. Expanding healthcare savings accounts so families can pay for routine healthcare pre-tax and 3. Delinking health insurance from employment, so if you lose your job, you don’t lose your coverage
    • Wants to end subsidies so the government isn’t choosing winners and losers and repeal the EPA’s blend wall mandate (he’s talking to the Iowans here)
  • Rubio:
    • Against cap and trade (carbon emission/EPA idea)
    • Says he is against amnesty and intends to fix our immigration system by making it merit-based rather than based on if your family lives here
    • Wants to cancel the new deal with Iran
  • Carson:
    • Against the government being involved in every aspect of our lives
    • Wants to reduce regulation but honor contracts that were already made (‘it is unfair to withdraw the rug’)
    • Intends to make Europe dependent on us for energy rather than Putin/Russia and his oil and put Putin ‘back in his little box’
    • Plans to declare war on ISIS and reform our immigration and visa policies
  • Bush:
    • Desires to fix the V.A. mess by giving veterans the choice to get healthcare from local hospitals
  • Christie:
    • Against profiling by law enforcement
    • Intends to cut Planned Parenthood funding
    • Against citizens having their right of conscience violated (Kim Davis case)
    • Wants to work with other nations to take out ISIS
  • Kasich:
    • Believes every engine of government needs to move when disasters occur (i.e. Flint, Michigan water crisis)
    • Grew Medicaid in Ohio (unsure if he plans to do that as President)
    • Desires to slap sanctions back on Iran if we discover they are making a nuclear weapon
  • Paul:
    • Concerned about the national debt more than abortion
    • Desires to either make abortion a case for the states or pass a bill that applies the 14th Amendment to unborn children
    • Disagrees with mass data collection of Americans and believes the 4th Amendment should be applied to government data collection (even for terror suspects)

Winners and Losers

To wrap things up, I’ll say this, the debate was more substance and less flare with Trump’s absence, which was pleasing to me. Cruz had several gaffs and Rubio capitalized on them in my opinion. I doubt the top three (Trump, Cruz, Rubio) will change in Iowa but the order may, and Christie pulled off a decent performance that may help him in New Hampshire. Carson, Kasich, and Bush performed but not enough to be memorable or help them in the polls.

Much to my chagrin, Iowa gets to make the first call and not me, but I’ll be praying the next few days that they make the right choice. I hope you will join me.

God Bless,






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