New York Times (Opinion)
By Charles Blow
December 17, 2015
I watched, with disenchantment and disquiet, Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, as candidate after candidate talked about how he or she would execute a war against the Islamic State, as if such a war was inevitable, if not already underway.
They tossed this idea of war around so blithely, like the human toll was almost inconsequential, as if recent history hasn’t taught us that war begets war and creates the very instability that terrorist groups can exploit.
I must say that Rand Paul was a bit of an exception here, saying:
“What we have to decide is whether or not regime change is a good idea. It’s what the neoconservatives have wanted. It’s what the vast majority of those on the stage want. They still want regime change. They want it in Syria. They wanted it in Iraq. They want it in Libya. It has not worked.”
“Out of regime change you get chaos. From the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam. So we get this profession of, oh, my goodness, they want to do something about terrorism, and yet they’re the problem because they allow terrorism to arise out of that chaos.”
Paul was right, of course, but that didn’t stop the other candidates from beating the drums of war until their elbows ached.
Carly Fiorina said: “One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, is bring back the warrior class — Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know. Every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.”
(PolitiFact rated the assertion that all five generals left as a result of being frank with the president as “mostly false.” This woman has such a hard time just sticking to the truth.)
It has been said that this Republican cycle is dominated by fear and frustration among Republican voters who are not satisfied with national politicians and are becoming increasingly afraid on a number of fronts.
The anger I agree with completely, but I prefer another way of phrasing — or possibly explaining — the fear: overwhelming insecurity.
I would posit that most of the issues that get traction in these debates, and indeed have gotten traction among Republican voters this cycle, have to do with a tremendous insecurity about power and safety — terrorism, the economy, immigration, gun rights, refugees, exploding drug addiction among white youth, policing, all of it.
We live in an America that is changing in dramatic demographic ways right before people’s eyes. Many of our largest cities are already majority-minority or soon will be. The electoral map, altered by this growing number of minority voters, makes it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win the presidency, even as they enjoy overwhelming successes on the state and legislative levels.
Indeed, Marco Rubio’s failed attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform as a member of the Gang of Eight may prove to be an Achilles’ heel for his campaign.
When Rubio suggested that the too-calculating-to-be-trusted Ted Cruz had a record of being somewhat reasonable on some areas of immigration, Cruz summoned the bad juju of every used car salesman who ever lived, and gleefully shot back:
“Look, I understand that Marco wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty bill. And you know, there was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting ‘the fireman and the arsonist have the same record because they are both at the scene of the fire.’ He was fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border, I was fighting to secure the border.”
Cruz is still playing frenemy to the real estate developer, waiting for him to slip and fall, waiting for the chance to attract his supporters. But Cruz and Rubio are appealing to different wings of the party, so theirs can be a bare-knuckled brawl.
Jeb Bush even sought to link the immigration insecurity to the drug addiction insecurity, saying: “Clearly, we need to secure the border. Coming here legally needs to be a lot easier than coming here illegally. If you don’t have that, you don’t have the rule of law. We now have a national security consideration, public health issues, we have an epidemic of heroin overdoses in all places in this country because of the ease of bringing heroin in. We have to secure the border.”
This, I am sure, plays well among Republican voters who have made their insecurities readily apparent to pollsters.
For instance, the Pew Research Center on Tuesday published a piece, “Five Facts About Republicans and National Security,” that included the following observations:
1. For Republicans, international concerns now dominate.
2. Republicans broadly support an aggressive approach toward the Islamic State and global terrorism.
3. Republicans are more concerned than Democrats about a number of overseas security threats.
4. In September, Republicans opposed the United States decision to accept more refugees.
5. Most Republicans associate Islam with violence.
Want to understand why the Republican primary session — including last night’s debate — seems like such an absurdity to those of us who feel grounded in the belief that smart solutions can be arrived at, solutions that don’t involve bombing Middle Eastern countries until we can determine whether “sand can glow in the dark”? There is one word you have to keep in mind: “insecurity.”
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com