In an effort to understand the kind of society envisioned by the Republican candidates campaigning to win their party's nomination to run against Barack Obama for the Presidency of the United States last year, I closely studied the positions of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Those were the last four candidates left standing toward the end of the primary campaign season just before Mr. Romney was finally nominated to represent the Republican Party and went on to lose against Mr. Obama.
I also diligently read and listened to the views of the Republican candidates who had previously dropped out of the contest -- Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Perry. I carefully watched all 26 of the televised debates going back to the first one in Greenville, South Carolina, on May 5, 2011. I think I developed a good sense of the country envisioned by that crop of Republican presidential candidates, and probably the next crop as well.
For starters, they all seemed to want a country with a much smaller and weaker federal government. Most, if not all of them, probably agreed with Mr. Perry's stated desire to make the federal government "irrelevant" in the lives of its citizens. So why indeed not get rid of unnecessary and bloated agencies like the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, and... and... Oops, forgot the third one. Sorry.
Anyways, the general idea is to return power and decision-making authority to the states and allow free markets and private companies to operate largely unencumbered by federal oversight, regulations, and taxes. It's the private sector, after all, that makes all good things happen. That's what Mitt kept telling us, anyways.
So the desired country would have minimum or no federal rules, requirements or standards for the way business is conducted, students are taught, the environment is protected, products are produced, and labor is reimbursed and treated.
If you adhere to the teachings of libertarian Ron Paul, the social safety net would be allowed to decay and eventually disappear, leaving the poor, sick, and disenfranchised in the model country to be cared for by churches and other humanitarian organizations, advocacy groups, and compassionate citizens. Both Mr. Paul and Mr. Romney believe that there will always be enough charity and private goodwill to pick up the slack. Mitt assures us we need not be "concerned about the very poor." Besides, those who fall through the cracks can always pull themselves up by their bootstraps (assuming they have boots).
The more socially conservative of the candidates such as Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum backed making exceptions for a weaker federal government when it comes to issues of privacy in the bedroom, birth control, the rights of homosexuals, and the mixing of religion and the secular state. In this case, the government should favor and help promote (at least subtly) certain "moral" codes and behavior.
The foreign policy "hawks" such as Mrs. Bachmann, Mr. Gingrich, and Mr. Santorum were be inclined to make exceptions for a weaker federal government, as they would jack up defense spending, hire and train more soldiers, build more weapon systems and bases, and issue ultimatums to countries perceived to be unfriendly to us (or at least to Israel). Faced with overwhelming odds and a rain of bombs, these countries would naturally back down and behave themselves.
Of course, Mr. Perry and Mr. Romney favored using some of those additional soldiers to patrol the US border with Mexico and help guard the long high-tech fence they would build to keep the illegal immigrants from crossing over. Voilà, no more wetbacks.
To finance a more militarized government, most -- if not all -- of the candidates sought looking for savings in the federal budget by targeting domestic programs. So... less Medicare, Medicaid and social security payments; less road and bridge construction and maintenance; less school construction and maintenance; less investments in the arts; and less investments in job training and unemployment benefits; less for food stamps and other welfare programs that encourage laziness and dependency.
Finally, to grow the economy using good 'ole tried and tested "Reaganomics", all the candidates liked the notion of dramatically cutting taxes on just about everyone, so that just about nobody would have to pay taxes to the feds. Some like Mr. Paul and Mr. Cain favored the elimination of the national income tax altogether. After all... "It's not the government's money; it's your money, and you should keep it." The idea is that citizens always know best, and they should be trusted to spend their hard-earned cash as they see fit.
Such a country sounds plausible. Hey wait, actually...
... sounds an awful lot like Honduras.
A weak and incompetent government. A tiny, greedy upper class using its power to influence, manipulate and corrupt. Unhappy, demoralized and badly-trained teachers. Horrendously educated students growing up unable to compete. Negligent mining companies. Polluted lakes and rivers and streams, toxic waste dumps. Minimal automobile and fuel standards, no one wearing seat belts, people packed like sardines onto the back of rickety old trucks.
No speed limits. Guns everywhere, any kind you want, as many as you can afford. Few with health insurance or any kind of insurance, for that matter. Sparse access to basic healthcare. Lax requirements for food and medications. Abused, badly paid workers, including police and firefighters. Rising crime and crowded prisons.
Armed soldiers everywhere. Lots of poor, homeless and hungry people begging on the streets. An insignificant middle class. Intolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. An arrogant and overreaching Church. Out of control birth rates. Decaying roads and highways, collapsed bridges.
No one paying taxes -- which explains why Honduras is always financially indebted to other countries and always fails to provide sufficient and timely aid to its citizens following natural disasters such as floods, droughts and hurricanes and human-induced tragedies such as prison fires.
Oh yeah. It's Honduras alright.