Reviewing the two most recent Republican Presidential Debates, I have been struck by the audiences’ reactions to certain questions.
The first is the audience’s reaction to when Brian Williams prefaced a question with reference to Governor Perry’s modern record of executing people during the debate last week at the Reagan Presidential Library. The audience roared to life in what has been claimed to be the most frenzied audience response of the night. (I was not alone in being disturbed by this reaction.)
The second is the audience’s reaction to a question to Ron Paul regarding the duty of medical providers to care for the uninsured during the CNN debate in Tampa, Florida. Prior to Paul’s response, the audience once again erupted in applause with shouts of “Yeah!”
I’m sure that we all have made the mistake of cheering for something inappropriate while wrapped up in a heated exchange or environment. I’m sure that we all have regretted this mistake.
The problem with the Republican base–or at least those individuals at these events–is that they do not seem to view their celebration of the deaths of others as a mistake. The Republican base is all too willing to cheer for the death of an anonymous person based on their own subjective judgment and without all of the facts.
I am sure it is true that many, if not most, of the individuals on death row are guilty of a heinous crime, but what about those who are not? What about those who are innocent? Do we as a society view the innocent on death row as collateral damage to our sense of justice?
As for the individual without health insurance, what if she only lacked health insurance because she was late on a payment and the health insurance company dropped coverage? What if she had a pre-existing condition that prevented her from getting the insurance that she needed? What if she had hit the lifetime limit on her health insurance coverage? (Thankfully, the last two issues will not occur in the future as long as the Affordable Care Act is still law. For information about pre-existing condition coverage, click here, and for information about the lifetime limit, click here. ) What if she was pregnant and both her life and the life of the child was at risk, do we allow the child to die because the mother did not have health insurance? Do we, as a community, cheer her death and that of the child? How does the Republican base square this belief with their unflagging position that a fetus must be preserved at all costs, even when the life or well-being of the mother is at risk?
It is disturbing to me that individuals who are involved in our democratic process can so callously and without question cheer the death of their fellow men and women. It is more disturbing that these individuals’ potential choice for a leader have done nothing to correct this shocking behavior or to educate these death cheering individuals.