The GOP presidential primary tends to turn into silly season or a full-on WWE Elimination Chamber match pretty quickly. Candidates and their supporters start lobbing accusations of “RINO” and try to score cheap political points on a regular basis. It can get pretty tiresome when the insults are just insults, but some of the criticisms are valid. Mitt Romney was rightly blasted in 2012 for passing Romneycare, while Rick Perry took heat for the HPV vaccine mandate. Newt Gingrich was smacked upside the head for being a consultant for Freddie Mac and supporting the individual mandate. Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have been hit pretty hard for being too socially conservative and Jon Huntsman was called too moderate. It’s the nature of politics to go after candidates and it certainly hasn’t stopped in this election cycle.
There’s nothing wrong with this because candidates should be held accountable for holding positions which aren’t necessarily “conservative.” Carly Fiorina is getting heat for promoting an individual mandate while on CNN in 2013.
“I actually do agree with those two provisions. And I think Obamacare remains an abomination, and let me tell you why. First of all, I think no one should be denied health care because of pre-existing conditions. And I think there are many more efficient ways we could have dealt with this other than Obamacare.”
She has every right to be criticized for it, as does the Heritage Foundation for putting it in a 1989 book. There really shouldn’t be a governmental mandate for anything, even if it’s for something most conservatives would support (i.e. the Kennesaw and Nelson, Georgia gun ownership mandates). Those who espouse freedom and liberty should be in favor of individuals being able to make their own decisions, even if it’s wrong. Fiorina also deserves criticism for her promises to grow the military and speaking nebulously about “reforming the Department of Defense” in the second debate. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz also deserve their share of blame for promoting an expansion of military without subsequent cuts. The U.S. should have a military to protect itself, but when a country is over $18T in debt, the only way to grow the military is to either cut from other places or raise taxes. The latter isn’t something conservatives tend to support, nor should they. The former is something conservatives in government don’t do enough.
There are plenty of criticisms for Jeb Bush, including his support of “free” community college and his comments about wanting universities to pay back part of a student loan to people who don’t graduate in four years. He’s still got to answer for his support of Common Core or high standards or whatever he’s calling it. Bush’s comments about the Second Amendment and kinda making it sound like the 10th Amendment trumps it, forced him to “clarify” his position to The Daily Caller. Ben Carson had to do his own clarification on the right to own guns, something he called due to his political inexperience.” But he also suggested an extra tax on luxury items to Forbes.
“Additionally, I would propose a luxury tax on very expensive items which provides an opportunity for the wealthy to pay down the national debt, since all money collected for luxury items would be directed to that purpose.”
That’s not exactly a conservative position to take and it’s important to point these things out. Candidates should also be given the right to change their minds, but there’s nothing wrong with questioning why the position change was made. It’s then up to the candidate to try to convince the electorate about why they switched sides and up to the electorate to decide if the candidate is being honest. John Kasich’s horrendous answer on why he campaigned in Indiana against Medicaid expansion in 2010, then accepted it anyway is a big black mark on his candidacy, as is his support of Common Core. Chris Christie’s undying support of the Patriot Act and NSA spying are also a stain, as is his decision to raise tolls and push tax credits for alternative energy. This is why looking at a candidate’s past positions versus current positions is important. It’s the only way to figure out if they’re telling the truth or just saying what’s popular to be elected.
The same goes for Donald Trump. There are plenty of reasons why he’s gotten so much criticism from conservative and libertarian outlets like National Review, Hot Air, The Daily Caller, Town Hall, Reason, and The American Spectator (which has also published pro-Trump pieces). This is a candidate who has had multiple positions on issues, including calling single payer health care something which could have worked “in a different age” during the first debate. He also said, “we’ve got to take care of everybody, not just the people up here,” when discussing health care in Phoenix. Trump isn’t talking free markets here, he’s talking government run health care. He’s discussed raising taxes on hedge fund manager, something which conservatives tend to be against, and doesn’t want to do anything with Social Security except put more money into it. These aren’t conservative positions and, as unpopular as it is, there’s nothing wrong with pointing this out.
It’s obvious people complain when bad things get said or written about the candidates they like. But vetting is important because it can point out a candidate’s weaknesses or when he or she have truly unconservative principles. There’s a real fine line between liberty and tyranny and whenever candidates get close to that line, it’s imperative to mention why they’re wrong. Not every candidate is perfect and not every one of my own personal position check marks are going to be filled out. But if the Right is going to just blindly embrace candidates, without considering their faults, what’s the point of having an actual debate on the issues?