The Republican Debates So Far (part 1) | Sojourners

The Republican Debates So Far (part 1)

As a liberal, a progressive that stands to the left of President Obama, I do not expect to hear much in a Republican presidential debate with which I will agree. The recent debates, however, have been eye-opening for the places where I agree with the candidates and places where I do not.

I have been pleasantly surprised to find myself in agreement with some aspects of Ron Paul's foreign policy. I agree that the United States cannot afford to project a military presence across the globe. In my opinion this is not realistic as a peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace building strategy. I agree with Paul's positions on trade with countries that the United States considers bad actors -- Iran and Cuba, for example.

I also agree with Governor Rick Perry's position on the Texas Dream Act. This is legislation in Texas that allows children of undocumented workers to attend colleges in Texas and pay the in-state tuition rate. He is right. This is good for the state and for the nation. God only knows what gifts and graces these young people will bring to Texas, to the nation, and to the world. It is better to educate them than to have these young people live lives on the economic margins of our society.

I also agree with Perry regarding the uselessness of building a fence along every mile of the border between the United States and Mexico. The idea of the efficacy of building a fence presupposes that people who are desperate to come to the United States will not find a way around or under the fence.

It is not possible to build a fence around the entire United States of America. And Paul is right when he says the logic of a fence not only fences people out, but fences people in. This is spiritually dangerous.

Moreover, the idea of a fence does not account for all of the undocumented workers that come into the United States by air. They fly in for one purpose or another, overstay their visas, and then blend into the population and into the work force of the United States. It is not possible to build a fence in the sky. Nothing will address the question of illegal immigration but comprehensive immigration reform, and the Republican candidates are short on the details of a comprehensive plan.

The Republicans all want to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, but when one young man questioned them about keeping the provision that requires insurance companies to allow young people to stay on their parent's insurance policies until they are 26, they shifted the problem to the states.

Candidate Herman Cain, a cancer survivor, said that he would not be alive today had health care reform been in place when he was sick. I do not think this is true. The reality is that some 50 million people in the United States of America have no health coverage, and people without health insurance die earlier than people with health insurance.

We the people of the United States are well within our constitutional prerogatives to ask our elected representatives to formulate a national strategy for universal healthcare.

In the tea party debate, Paul spoke about churches stepping in to help people without health insurance pay for their catastrophic healthcare needs. This is fantastical nonsense. No faith community or no combination of faith communities can afford to pay for the health care needs of the people in their communities by simply passing the plate.

portrait-elverton-dixonDr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.

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