Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won the South Carolina primary Saturday, Feb 20th, by a comfortable margin although not with the 20 point shellacking that many polls indicated. The immediate aftereffect was that Jeb Bush dropped out of the race. From the start Jeb could get no traction, which former George W. Bush press secretary Dana Perino laid at the feet of widespread Bush fatigue. Jeb also did not hesitate to go after Trump, prompting a heated exchange between the two for weeks on end. But even in South Carolina where the Bush family is still extremely popular to this very day, voters seemed weary of Jeb even though in terms of intellect he and Dr. Ben Carson were probably the smartest guys among the candidates.
Last summer someone asked me if I would be endorsing a candidate as I have during each election since I began writing for the Examiner in 2009. I told them that I would make no endorsements whatsoever so as to maintain my objectivity as we make our way through the 2016 election cycle. Besides, I said from the beginning that I can’t remember a time when the GOP put forth so many high quality candidates for the presidential nomination. All of them have admirable qualities, and all of them have some glaring weaknesses. But overall these are intelligent, thoughtful, and level headed candidates that showcase the GOP as it stands in 2016. Of course I have my personal favorites, but I have been intentional about trying to remain objective in spite of it. The only opinion I will offer is that I regret not having the voice of Dr. Rand Paul on that stage. He lent something to the debate that is now sorely lacking.
Similarly, I regret that the country has been exposed only to a small portion of the intellect and depth of Ben Carson. We could say the same about Carly Fiorina, who is probably the most articulate Republican woman the GOP has put forth. And without casting judgment on the merits of Ohio Gov. John Kasich as compared to the rest, he would make a formidable foe to any Democrat in a head to head match up. This is not to mention that he is an extremely nice guy whose faith has brought him through many tragic circumstances.
This leaves two very attractive, articulate, and astute candidates, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Both have issued strong statements about the need to protect the Second Amendment and its promise to preserve and defend the right of the individual citizen to own, keep, and bear firearms for protection and for a necessary adjunct to the military in engaging and defeating any enemy against our citizens and their liberties. To be fair, Donald Trump has issued similar statements about the necessity of the people to protect themselves, their families, and their property. Terrorists, after all, will need to be fought by citizens with arsenals if they ever unleash their barbarism on the homeland in a overwhelming blitz. The military and police forces won’t be enough.
Further, both Rubio and Cruz have supported the notion of the flat tax in its various forms, abolishing the IRS, implementing spending reductions, and overhauling immigration law. Trump has not expressed support for the flat tax but spoken of the necessity of reforming tax law so that we can begin to quickly lower the astronomical national debt.
Trumps’s views on securing the border are in one accord with that of Rubio and Cruz, who are adamant that the border wall/fence be finished. Cruz wants to make the barriers much taller, and build double fences with room in between the two for Border Patrol agents to quickly respond to problems. Interestingly, none of the three support the wholesale deportation of 12 million aliens out of the country. Cruz mused that it would not be right to have these persons awakened in the night to jackboots and bayonets who jerk them up and haul them out of the country. Rather, all three, when pressed, seem to focus on criminal illegal aliens and drug runners and their kingpins. The issue, say the three, is to deport criminals. That alone will mean the deportation of several million persons.
The immigration problem is much more complicated than the steps described above indicate, and Trump, Rubio, and Cruz have issued policy and position papers on addressing this issue. Each individual voter would be prudent to read these proposals so as to make informed decisions in the voting booth.