The Great Right Hope?

By Hayden Golden – Columnist

Anyone who’s been following the Republican nomination race knows it’s an absolute circus. No, seriously. Have you looked at the backdrops to these debates? They look like Barnum & Bailey got together with Betsy Ross at an iParty clearance sale. Have you ever needed so many balloons and flags? (Sadly, those flags are probably made in China, but hey, these guys clearly want jobs back on American soil. Dear candidates, where were your iPhones made?) We’re on our 739th debate and I’m not sure I want to know any more about these guys. Thankfully we’re down to a mere four, but that hasn’t hurt comedians any since Gingrich and Romney seem to be parodies of themselves most days. Last week Gingrich lambasted a moderator for asking about his second wife’s interview discussing his proposal of an open marriage. The comeback was so easy: how can a man who talks about the sanctity of heterosexual marriage and their lifestyles (as opposed to those other people, those homosexuals –which Gingrich curiously slurs into gobblely-gook, seeming to miss most of the vowels) really say his own marriage has been sacred when he’s had three? Well, no one called him out and he left the debate seemingly victorious.

I don’t like Gingrich. I don’t like Romney. I miss Herman Cain, if only because “9-9-9” became a response to every question in the waning days of his campaign, even when the question had to do with gay marriage. But, if you’re a Republican, even a moderate or independent, you’re voting for whoever gets the nomination, even those devout Ron Paul fans (which I am). The anyone-but-Obama strategy will probably be successful given his track record over the past

three years. Even those who voted for Obama and those older die-hard liberals are drowning in their defenses of him. Admittedly, I didn’t expect the President to fix everything in four years – political rhetoric never seems to live up to the reality –but running on a platform of ‘I need more time’ is, frankly, so Bush.

What’s sad about the debates and the nomination race generally is its hyper-focused discourse on the economy and social issues. It’s what gave the Santorum campaign traction and allowed him to continue on in the race, annoyingly so. He might be appealing to the conservatives of South Carolina, but in the end, those Republican primary voters are voting for the nominee, even if it’s not Santorum.

Sometimes I wonder how and why candidates choose to talk about things like gay marriage or contraceptives. If, they’re genuinely appealing to real voter concerns, then Americans have some messed up priorities where gay marriage trumps indefinite detainment or ludicrous online piracy regulation. If, on the other hand, it’s just useless blathering, then we need to demand more as viewers and readers. After all, every one of the debates’ moderators has gone to college and is, supposedly, a journalist. Unfortunately, I think it’s the former given the malicious booing of a gay soldier and cheering when Gingrich said Roe vs. Wade was wrong.

There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming months between the primary contests and anticipated debates (four more, as of late). It will likely be more comedic than substantive, an unfortunate state for our nation’s politics.