There may be implicit arguments involved about what policies might deliver the greatest good for the greatest number, but the core undertaking is about using the democratic process to achieve and maintain political power. And over the past half-century, the Republican Party has played the game well.
This week, the nation once again survived an onslaught of goblins and ghouls. I'm talking of course about Wednesday's Republican debate. Candidates, campaigns, and RNC chair Reince Priebus all chided the moderators for not focusing on substance. I assume they are talking about substance like deporting 11 million people, taking health insurance away from 25 million Americans, or pursuing massive tax cuts for the rich. Perhaps they mean Trump's tax plan, which would cost $10 trillion over 10 years. Or maybe it's Carson's "tithing" tax plan that would pay for only 28 percent of estimated government spending. If "substance" means forcing candidates to account for the real world consequences of their proposals, then perhaps the candidates should be thankful for the absence of substance. Because those consequences would be much scarier than anything any of us saw on our doorsteps last night.