It is a grim bunch, this group of North Carolina Republicans vying for the United States Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
In a debate Tuesday, and for that matter in their individual campaigns, Thom Tillis, Mark Harris, Greg Brannon and Heather Grant have offered few new ideas for helping the people of their state. In fact, their entire approach is rather depressing.
Theyre against just about everything, and for just about nothing. Are the people of this state, many of whom are hurting financially and worried about the future for their children, really going to roll the dice with candidates who offer virtually no fresh ideas, and certainly no positive visions?
The answer will come in November. Meanwhile, Republicans battle among themselves for their upcoming primary and are attempting to prove whos the candidate who most dislikes President Obama, who would do the most in Congress to dismantle the federal government and who can lead the charge against the poor and unemployed.
Well, give them this: Theyre united on a few things.
For example, they all want to repeal Obamacare, the hard-rights ideological nickname for the Affordable Care Act. So far, the reviled program has resulted in about 12 million people getting health insurance, has made it possible for parents to keep their children on their insurance until they are 26 years old and has prohibited insurance companies from denying people with pre-existing conditions health insurance. Increases in health care costs are slowing, and the federal deficit is going down, not up as many Republicans predicted with the ACA.
Oh, and the four major GOP candidates also dont believe in climate change, which has the credibility of many illustrious scientists behind it. This is a national and state Republican position, and its almost laughable: Were the Atlantics waves lapping up around Grandfather Mountain, the GOP still would deny climate change.
In addition, all say they would eliminate federal departments. Tillis would kill the Department of Education; Charlotte minister Mark Harris would shut down Education, Energy and Commerce; Grant, a nurse, would do away with the Environmental Protection Agency; Brannon seems inclined to eliminate everything except the cherry blossoms, including Eduction, Health and Human Services, the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service.
There is some humor in Republican debates these days, with even the most conservative mainstream candidates being challenged by tea partyers to prove their conservative credentials. Going after Tillis hardest Tuesday was Brannon, a tea party guy , who basically accuses Tillis of being a bleached blond conservative. Check his roots, the doc seems to say, and youll find some dark liberal strands.
Tillis, the state House speaker who presided over one of the most clumsy, destructive legislative sessions in history, is proud of turning down federal help on Medicaid that would have helped hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. Presumably he also supports the GOP assault on public education and regulation since hes done nothing to stop it. He called himself the leader of a conservative revolution.
It may have been a revolution, but it wasnt exactly like 1776.
Tillis of late has tried to focus entirely on Hagan, whos advocated for military families, for help for the unemployed, for health care reform and for the needs of average citizens. For, for, for, for. Not so these angry Republicans, who have hammered no nails in any platform on which positive ideas could stand.
Have they no vision, no programs for the middle class, no desire to advocate for the needs of citizens less fortunate than they, no ideas to bring a divided country and state together? Will they ever play to hopes and not fears? If one should emerge victorious against Hagan, will he or she be able to stand before the citizens and say, Now, lets go forward with our agenda for the people ?
No, no, no. As usual.