There was a moment in the Republican debate, last Wednesday night, that would have let two of the candidates prove their ability to lead, and not simply show us how much they love God and little babies, apparently a prerequisite to leading our country. That moment happened for Ben Carson during the discussion of Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who cannot, in her heart, issue marriage licenses for gays because her Bible tells her so, and for Carly Fiorina, who wants everyone to see the horror of abortion by watching the Planned Parenthood video in which a baby, “heart beating and legs thrashing,” has its organs ripped from its small body as its organs are harvested.
First, Dr. Carson – an extremely accomplished surgeon out of Johns Hopkins, did not issue even a whisper of protest as the other candidates on stage – all who have graduated from law school — state that there should be “some accommodation” for people (like Davis) who defy the ruling of the highest court of our land. Do we pick and choose which rulings we will follow according to the favorite passion of the moment? We are a nation of laws, not a theocracy. The Supreme Court rules, and not God, not Allah, not Buddha or the leaders of the cult we follow. We do this, and it kind of helps us get along as best we can. And so Dr. Carson, who owes much of his success to his education — and is old enough to remember when the Supreme Court ruled that Black and White children should have an equal chance at a good education – stood silent as his fellow candidates repeatedly advocated “some accommodation” to the Supreme Court ruling.
Should there have been “some accommodation” for those that vehemently opposed integrated schools in the South during the 1960’s, Dr. Carson? Or, perhaps, for those Christian groups that believed in the same kind of white supremacy mindset? Thank God (and I include everyone’s god in this) that there was true leadership on this, and not political gamesmanship, in which lawyers running for office advocate defying the law of our land for their own gain. And without the courage of those past leaders, Dr. Carson, you might not be standing on the debate stage with them.
And Ms. Fiorina, who can claim an incredible rise in the business world from secretary to CEO of two major companies – you are old enough to remember a time in which if you got pregnant, you would be forced, by law, to give birth to that child. No excuses like, “I’m only a kid, myself,” or “I can’t afford it,” or whatever – by law, you must have that child. And so you invoke the horror of a video that is edited to impart misinformation and fear. The truth of it, is that the fetal organs go for research, which has benefited those suffering from polio, from Parkinson’s, and several other diseases. The money discussed in the video is not profit for Planned Parenthood, but to cover their costs to allow the procedure to take place. Using fetal tissue for research has been around since the 1930’s, but it appears that in the 2015’s it can be made into an issue of fear and disgust, again for political gain. But for those of us who have benefitted from this research, which is all of us, we must condemn ourselves if we condemn this practice. Instead, Ms. Fiorina invoked a moment of fear over it, conveniently ignoring the benefits she, and countless other women, have gained.
For both Dr. Carson, and Ms. Fiorina, there was a moment to shed the skin of a politician and embrace authenticity – a thing that keeps Donald Trump high up in the polls. Carson and Fiorina are accomplished individuals, as is Trump, but Trump is a clown, and they are not. It could have been their moment to show real leadership, not simply show the more extremist voters of their party that they support their view – yes, you are right in your fears and your prejudices. A real leader is more than a reflection of what they think the voter wants to hear. They are the ones that have real courage in the face of crazy, emotional misinformation – misinformation that supports a climate of fear, not one that sheds a real light on it.
The one moment of true leadership came from Marco Rubio when he said that he “speaks Spanish” to those “who are trying to achieve upward mobility and if they get their news in Spanish, I want them to hear that directly from me, not from a translator at Univision.” He said this as the other candidates paternalistically demanded “assimilation” and the xenophobic Trump stood in the center of the stage.
We need a real hero. Who’s going to take a shot at it?