What level of discourse do voters deserve in Senate campaign?

If you haven’t seen it already, take a look at Charlie’s post from earlier today: Kingston Vows Not To Be Outflanked On The Right: Exhibit A

The stage is set for the Republicans running for the U.S. Senate to spend the next year stumbling over themselves as they try to get further and further to the right.

The process seems likely to diminish the level of political discourse to the point of caricature. Georgia’s voters deserve better than this, but that’s what we’re going to get unless we demand that candidates propose and debate viable, politically possible policies.

Jack Kingston’s new website is up and running. The link to Issues contains just five categories: Budget/Spending, Obamacare, Georgia Values, Agriculture, and National Security. The policy prescriptions under these headings are so thin as to be almost meaningless. There are just 141 words (I counted in MS Word) for Budget/Spending, including a statement of Kingston’s support for a balanced budget amendment.

But what would Kingston have said about a balanced budget in 2009, when federal revenues barely covered Social Security, Medicare, and other mandatory spending? That’s just one obvious question begged by the superficial statements on the site.

And to be fair to Kingston, let me note that his newly launched site is more substantive than the ones for either Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey.

Maybe Kingston will flesh out these issues with some real policy prescriptions in the coming weeks or months. Or maybe shallow analysis of issues will be enough for a candidate to win the Republican nomination next year and give the eventual winner some room to wriggle back toward the center before the general election.

But I hope voters generally — and Republican activists specifically — will demand more detail and more substance from candidates in the coming months.

If we don’t make those demands, we’ll get the race we deserve.

19 comments

  1. Harry says:

    Under the category of Budget/Spending I would vote for who supports moving government workers to social security and medicare like the rest of us – including members of congress. The government would save a ton of money.

      • Harry says:

        Here’s an example from the Daily Kos, no less:

        My buddy retired at age 42 from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. He is making about $3500 a month as a retiree. Plus healthcare. So, let’s say his $42000, plus healthcare, is worth $50,000. He is likely to live to 80. 38 years- $1,700,000 in benefits. To earn $50K a year in retirement- at 3% return a year, that is like having $1,700,000 in the bank at age 42.

        • gcp says:

          You missed my point. I said fed workers pay into Medicare and SS in response to your statement concerning “moving government workers to social security and medicare like the rest of us-including members of congress.” I said nothing about government pensions. Yes some state and local don’t pay into SS but fed workers including Congress employed since 1983 pay into SS.

          • Harry says:

            Then I was not clear enough. My point is the governments could considerably reduce their costs by migrating government workers completely off expensive defined benefit pensions and put them exclusively on social security and 403-b or equivalent defined contribution plans.

            • gcp says:

              Agree on moving government workers to defined-contribution plans but disagree on SS which should be phased out entirely for everyone, government and private sector workers. Workers can buy private annuities and private disability plans if they want an SS type program.

              • Harry says:

                You remember what happened when Bush the Younger pushed that. It was politically impossible. What is politically possible is to put government workers on the same retirement playing field as the rest of us. Sure they will yelp and squeal, but why should they be entitled to these massive defined benefits while the rest of us, who pay for their services, survive on social insecurity peanuts?

    • saltycracker says:

      The new elite in retirement areas are public workers. They are the lucky ones in their late 40’s or early 50’s with full benefits and improving pensions.

      Most public pensions forecast returns of 7.5% to 8% and politicians routinely sweeten it with various accelerations. All guaranteed by the public. No disclaimer on the returns that we have with 401k’s.

      If it is so sound:
      1. Let us invest in the funds at the guaranteed 7.5% or more.
      or 2. Take the general public (taxpayer) off the guarantee of the managed pension funds

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        Fatten the wallets of gov’t workers and you’ve just earned yourself a reliable voting block. This isn’t anything new. It’s just getting a bit out of control.

        Buying votes is illegal, but giving a group of people sweet benefits you won’t see anywhere else in the workforce and knowing full well they’re going to return the favor on a November Tuesday is perfectly legit, it seems.

  2. Three Jack says:

    Why would we expect anything different from what the announced candidates have been doing for years? Superficial discourse about critical issues allows one to walk back when challenged. These guys are professional superficialists.

    Come on Karen!

  3. Jackster says:

    Not impressed with the blog site (kingston), denture advertisement (gingrey), nor top gun site (Broun).

    Discourse level ? If they can make a legitimate argument that both distances themselves or denounces Bush in any way, and does not reference Regan, then that’d be a lovely start to looking into the future.

  4. southernpol says:

    Every candidate’s website will be more substantive than it currently is. It’s early, folks.

    With that said, I’m looking forward to Kingston’s comic strips. Holy logo, batman.

  5. Left Turn Only says:

    GPO candidates tumbling over themselves to get farthest to the right! It’s like watching mindless lemmings plow into the sea. Given the inevitable modernization of society as generations are replaced, may they and their party meet the same fate.

  6. davidfarrar says:

    The Tea Party Exploratory Committee of Georgia has been created to help Tea Party candidates establish their Tea Party credentials throughout the state for the 2014 elections. Besides the “taxed-enough-already” and the “not-enough-spending-cuts” Tea Party demands, the following lists some of the most fundamental constitutional issues all Tea Party supporters should support in 2014, and, hopefully, take their stand on the line to getting our country back.

    Item 4: Candidates must agree to accept no outside PAC funds during their primary campaigns. This is a decision in, by, and for the Citizens of the Great state of Georgia only, and not to be sold to Washington D. C. special interest insider groups.

    ex animo
    davidfarrar

  7. Dave Bearse says:

    Budget/Spending, Obamacare, Agriculture, and National Security are pro forma. NRSC money is conditioned on it.

    GaGOP Values—Guns, Gays, and Abortion—are what win Georgia primaries, as was made clear in the 2010 Governor’s race. There’s no getting around the paramount rule for GaGOP candidates in statewide General Elections: must be present to win.

    The GaGOP isn’t concerned about damage to the brand. It’s not going to happen until at least the medium term—I don’t anticipate the demographic changes that are chattered about as much changing anything in Georgia until the end of the decade, hence the rule above.

    Extremist GOP representation/campaigning (even for show) does damage in the here and now outside of conservative red states however. It hands Dem candidates a campaign issue—namely how the GOP focus on how it would govern if it were in the majority—to beat down GOP candidates with. (One reason the main stream media is so vilified by the GOP is because media publicity doesn’t required Dems to pay to make it an issue.)

    The GOP at the national level is in a death spiral. It increasingly isn’t able to win a majority without taking everything in every red state and relying on gaming redistricting and discouraging voting elsewhere. The campaigning required to win and represent red states is an albatross to GOP candidates outside of conservative red states.

    GOP moderates in conservative red states are already extinct. They’re an endangered species everywhere else. Extremist GOP representation/campaigning hurts the brand (and its future—incumbents will die off of old age if nothing else—and its greatest damage will be as a barrier to moderate non-incumbents seeking to establish a foothold) in purple and competitive red states. It’s turning competitive red states purple. (Toomey, Collins, you’re on deck to go. SCGOP to Graham, bank right. Johnny’s been doing it Georgia. Saxby, though he started well to the right, won’t, and we see where that got him.)

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