I’ve been to my share of politcal debates, and I suppose the thing that they have most in common is how little is actually debated.
.Last week, I attended the debate held in Grovetown for seven Republican U.S. Senate candidates. Thursday, I was in Augusta to hear what the five Republican candidates for the 12th Congressional District had to say.
Unsurprisingly, there was a common theme that ran through each debate. I’ll attempt to summarize: All the candidates promised to reduce fedral regulations, cut spending, reduce taxes, and get back to a government based on constitutional principles. All laudable goals.
Where the candidates had trouble was differentiating themselves and their ideas from the person next to them on the stage. They couldn’t find much to disagree on except that they all thought they were the best person for the job.
There was some nuance, but it primarily seemed focused on what the other person couldn’t do.Karen Handel was expecially critical of the three sitting Congressmen who are competeing with her for the senate seat. She warned that it was their ilk that had gotten us where we are today, so we couldn’t trust them in Washington and do anything different. She made this point, even though there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between her ideas and theirs.
The only real outsider at that debate was Art Gardner, a patten attorney, who said he was “pro-choice” and criticized Paul Broun’s idea of eliminating the EPA as “crazy talk.” He didn’t get much applause for his views.
In the 12th District debate, the outlier was Diane Vann, a retired nurse from Macon. Her mantra was that the Democratic Party was following the Communist Manefesto, chapter and verse and when she got to Washington she would set about impeaching Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.
John Stone seemed to have the most specifics – he would build interstates, nuclear power plants and beef up Fort Gordon to set the economy “on fire.” Eugene Yu used the most words to say the least – promising to bring “common sense” back to Washington, and not much more.
Delvis (the D is not silent) Dutton touted his record in the state legislature and promised not to compromise his conservative principles if elected. Rick Allen said many of the same things, but also said he had one quality where the others were lacking – leadership. Perhaps.
It’s true, they aren’t all the same.
But what it really boils down to is who can beat John Barrow, one of the cagiest politicians I know.
That will be a difference worth determining come May 20.