The Republican Presidential Primaries have been thrilling, to say the least, with a wide range of interesting candidates and no definitive frontrunner. Here, Stuyvesant students share their views about the candidates.
Daniel Teehan ‘13
Though all of the Republican candidates still contending for the party’s nomination have their drawbacks Newt Gingrich’s extreme egotism and lack of discernable morality is the most perilous of the lot. Gingrich certainly has qualifications, having led the despondent Republican Party back into congressional prominence in the 1990s, but any benefits of this experience are subverted by the shocking lack of morality displayed along the way. In 1997 Gingrich was the first Speaker of the House ever to be penalized for ethics violations, with 84 charges leveled against him. His personal life provides even more evidence of his blatant disregard for ethical responsibility; he has cheated on two of his former wives, one of whom was being treated for uterine cancer will he was having an affair. Of course, his own moral shortcomings didn’t stop Newt from leading righteous charge against President Clinton for the Monica Lewinski scandal. This tendency to take the high ground when advantageous and disregard it the rest of the time may be fitting for a political brute, but not for a president.
With Gingrich back in the limelight with his presidential run, the story has remained much the same. While there have not been any major scandals (yet), he has shown that he is still a disrespectful, patronizing egomaniac. In debates, Gingrich has shamelessly waved his intellectual background in the faces of the other candidates, condescendingly comparing them to befuddled students and himself to a wide host of historical figures, including Abraham Lincoln and Moses.
Like his opponent Mitt Romney, Gingrich is an unrepentant flip-flopper as well. Though he was a once strong proponent of the Citizens United Case, he quickly turned to whining after Romney’s Super PAC sunk his campaign in Iowa, and subsequently warmed up to them again as donations to his own PAC allowed for a string of bitterly aggressive anti-Romney ads in South Carolina. This sort of base ideological inconsistency is characteristic of the man who will do literally anything to satisfy his political ambition.
Having a fiscally irresponsible, socially conservative, or extreme evangelist in the White House is bad, but having a president with remarkably low morality and unveiled selfishness is unacceptable. Gingrich has shown through his outlandish and offensive proposals regarding low-income children and “progressive” plans for the moon that he will not hesitate to pursue whatever fanciful policy comes into his head. Giving Gingrich the power and prestige of the presidency would be enabling his megalomaniacal ways and opening up the door for whatever irreparable harm he can inflict while he holds office.
Lavinia Lee ‘13
A Mitt Romney campaign truck declares him a businessman and politician. Given the current state of the economy, that certainly seems like a necessary trait for a presidential candidate. Romney seems to have done well enough as a businessman, with a net worth of about $220 million and a career as CEO of Bain Capital. However, as a politician, he has been described as slippery, and rightly so. As governor of Massachusetts, he vehemently opposed abortion but did not vote to overturn existing abortion laws. Similarly, he has on certain occasions supported gay rights, despite promoting laws limiting gay marriage in Massachusetts as governor.
The main question is whether or not Romney can be trusted to separate church and state while remaining a Mormon, which requires proselytism, something Romney has very willingly done in the past. The man may have a spotless personal life, which frees him from the kind of scandal that pulled down Herman Cain, but Romney’s Mormonism still stands against him. The country had enough problems coming to terms with a Catholic president, and only about half of respondents to a Pew poll on the subject considered Mormonism to be a form of Christianity. It’s a shame that Romney’s religion is what scares some people away.
Benjamin Koatz ‘12
Why would a progressive, Occupy Wall Streeter and former Obama-nut support Ron Paul—a Texas, small-government libertarian—president?
Because, first of all, he’s the only presidential candidate out there who wants to end the War on Drugs and Terror, and to stop using the American government to attack its own people and civilians overseas. He wouldn’t expand the Pakistani drone war—he would end it. He wouldn’t invade Iran—he would lift the sanctions and use diplomacy instead of antagonism. He would save the US trillions by scaling back our troop presence all around the world, which serves to breed, not prevent terrorism. He is the only one who realizes that the way to spread democracy is through trade and talk, not guns and bombs. He won’t waste billions of dollars saving people from their own actions. He’ll respect your privacy, safeguard your civil liberties, and uphold the protections afforded to you under the Constitution.
For me, that’s enough. But even though Paul is the strongest candidate civil-liberties-wise, many are put off by his economic policies. How can he want to end the Fed? How can he propose lowering regulation and taxes for the rich? How can he want to cut so much spending? How can a progressive support him?
The past 4 years have been filled with military expansion, reckless spending, special-interest health bills and ONE attempt at reigning in the financial sector that failed miserably. The regulations in place now in this country are not only overshadowed by the much more sweeping corporate welfare we have, but actually serve the interest of the corporations themselves through agencies controlled by the very industries they are tasked with regulating (the Fed, FDA, FCC, etc.).
I’d rather have a government that cuts spending where it needs to and practices very little regulation than corporate welfare and pro-big-business regulation.
But overall, the executive office has more control over the War on Drugs and Terror than economic policy, and that is where Paul shows innovation compared to other candidates.
I support Ron Paul because he supports civil liberties and doesn’t want to use government to further the interests of the elite and the wealthy. That’s truly what America needs right now.
Jack Cahn ‘14
An electable candidate, according to current political standards, is a candidate who is willing to change, shift, and flip-flop on policies , moving to the center of the political spectrum to appease voters on the left and the right. This is the path that President Obama and former Governor Romney have taken in their current campaigns. On the other hand, Rick Santorum, who has been deemed “unelectable” by so many, is one of the few candidates who have maintained consistent beliefs based on conservative values.
As the author of the Welfare Reform Act, Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and Syria Accountability Act, Santorum has shown his dedication to these values—consistently supporting fiscal conservatism, a hard-line foreign policy against Syria, Iran, and other aggressive nations, and a pro-life position. Santorum has been supporting reforming and cutting entitlements since long before the debt-crisis, and continues to stand for a strong, united, conservative America, unlike notorious flip-flopper and frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Though I don’t agree with everything Santorum stands for, I believe he deserves a lot more respect than people have been giving him, because at the very least he stands for something—which is more than most presidential candidates can say.
David Cahn ‘14
When it comes to politics, you would think that experience and results would be the most important factors in choosing a President. However, as we watch Jon Huntsman’s campaign come to a halt, it is increasingly apparent that they are not. As Governor of Utah, Huntsman cut taxes, reduced governmental waste, grew his State’s economy, and created jobs during a time in which the rest of America was seeing substantial job loss. His tenure was so accomplished that when he left office to become the United States Ambassador to China, his approval ratings were over 80 percent, and the Pew Center on the States named Utah the “best-managed state.” Following his term as governor, Utah was also ranked among the top three states in which to do business.
In terms of foreign policy, Huntsman’s experience in the Far East is impressive—especially when compared to that of his recent opponents, Ron Raul, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich. He was named U.S. Ambassador to Singapore at age 32, and he is fluent in Mandarin. Huntsman also served as Deputy United States Trade Representative in 2001 and worked with China as it joined the WTO. In 2009 he was nominated Ambassador to China, and confirmed unanimously.
In the private sector, Huntsman has served as an executive of the Huntsman Corporation and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, and as CEO of Huntsman Family Holdings Company. He has thus proven himself an effective entrepreneur, diplomat, and leader in the many positions he has held.
Equally important as his vast experience is his unique vision. Jon Huntsman serves a nation, while his opponents serve only their parties. He is continually attacked for serving under President Obama. He is labeled as a traitor to the Republican Party. Yet, in his decision to serve under Obama, we see a willingness to rise above petty politics and put service to the American people above all else. In him we see a leader, a man who could have crossed party lines to enact compromise, unity, and rational policy in America. Jon Huntsman’s exit from the presidential race is a loss for America.