Last night I had my first real opportunity to participate in a candidate forum. It was held at Union University, which is my home turf. The Union University College Republicans hosted the event.
When I arrived, I was surprised to find that a straw poll was being held. I panicked a little as I had brought with me Andrew Baker (age 13) and Grace Baker (age 11), neither of whom I felt would make sense as straw poll voters. I considered what a disaster it would be to lose at the place where I teach.
In addition, I had to bribe the kids to sit through the two hour event with the promise to take them to Sonic afterwards. They won their prize and even provided a little comic relief as Andrew shouted “Amen!” when one candidate said he agreed with me about religious liberty.
I’ll save you the suspense on the straw poll. I think the students came through for me. I won.
The event was a “forum,” which translated into each candidate giving a five minute speech and then answering questions in rounds at the end.
It may not surprise you to hear that I left thinking that we could save everyone a lot of time (and money) if we simply sat down for an essay test on the issues of the campaign and then let the voters apply their own grades. (That’s the kind of answer a professor would give, isn’t it?) 🙂
One candidate promoted the credibility conferred by fundraising. I wonder what he would have said if I had responded, “The candidate sitting next to you has raised about four times what you have. Does that mean he is four times as credible? In fact, should we just forget the forums and debates and put the guy with the best fundraising in the office?”
It’s pretty crazy to be a lifetime observer of politics actually on the stage watching a candidate do one of the things you have noticed in the past. I’m not naming names because the phenomenon is what’s important. One candidate clearly had something like a focus-group or poll-tested phrase to describe himself and his record. He was careful to repeat it several times during the debate. It reminded me very much of the 2000 election when Al Gore developed tremendous discipline around using the word “lockbox” to refer to his plan for social security and “risky tax scheme” to refer to Bush’s tax cuts.
I talked about the things you would expect me to discuss. I said there is a civil rights struggle yet to be won, which is for the rights of the unborn. Hillary Clinton has said the unborn have no constitutional rights. I pointed out that many great thinkers, including Martin Luther King, Jr. have declared that an unjust law is no law at all. Roe is an unjust law and must not stand.
I recited a list of the victims of the new sexual orthodoxy: Brendan Eich, Kelvin Cochran, Eric Walsh, Barronelle Stutzman, David Daleiden, and even the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Then I launched into a discussion of the aggressive secularism developing among the Fortune 500/DC/Hollywood nexus and how the only way to combat it is with solidarity of the type shown in the examples of the Chick-fil-A firestorm and the attempt to subpoena sermons of Houston pastors.
We covered all kinds of issues during the Q & A, including gay marriage to the consternation of some who complained the issue is “settled.” The highlight of the evening probably came at the end when we received a question about transgender bathrooms. George Flinn was unable to attend and sent a proxy. His proxy was boisterous and loudly declared, “If you have a bathroom in your house, then it’s a transgender bathroom!” Lots of laughter and a nice way to end.