The wrong debate.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, left, speaking during a presidential debate with President Joe Biden, right, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Paul GleiserThe wrong debate.

In May 2013 I wrote a piece titled, “What this conservative believes.”  In 17 paragraphs of one to two sentences each I stated what I think of as the core beliefs of conservatism.

With that in mind, I am convinced that the highly spun and elaborately staged presidential debates of the recent past – last night included – are way wide of the mark.

Rather than playing pickleball with claims and counterclaims — as happened last night — the candidates should be debating the points set forth in my piece of 11 years ago.

Of those 17 points, I’d have picked three for last night.

First is the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives cleave to the Constitution because of the express limitations it places on government. Liberals and progressives chafe against those limitations even as they expend vast amounts of energy seeking to circumvent them.

Which is correct?

Is the Constitution the bedrock document that guarantees the freedom of ordinary citizens that conservatives believe it is, or is it the 18th century anachronism that is standing in the way of an overdue fundamental transformation of the country that liberals and progressives believe it is?

Let the sides debate.

Second, there’s laissez faire, free-market capitalism. Eleven years ago, I wrote:

I believe that for all the admitted faults of free-market capitalism, it has nevertheless done more to lift humankind out of poverty than any other economic system ever devised.”

Despite a mountain of evidence to support that belief, liberals and progressives vehemently reject the very idea. They believe instead in a centrally planned, highly regulated economic system in which most economic decisions are made for the citizens rather than by the citizens.

Until this question is resolved, we’re going to be at each other’s throats.

Let’s debate it.

Third on my list is the role of government. In my original piece I said:

I believe that government is at once necessary and dangerous. I believe that governments are constituted of humans and that humans can never be trusted not to abuse power over other humans. Thus, I believe in the smallest government possible consistent with defending the peace and enabling the free conduct of commerce.”

I believe this to my core. I further believe that to a large extent, government has been the root source of most of the suffering that mankind has endured throughout history.

But liberals and progressives believe that government is a benign, beneficent force that makes the lives of ordinary citizens better. They believe that because they don’t believe in the sovereignty of the individual. Progressives therefore don’t believe that left to their own devices, millions of free citizens will make millions of discrete personal decisions that will aggregate to a free, happy and prosperous nation.

Put that on the floor, Jake Tapper, and let the candidates duke it out.

Presidential debates in America have devolved into mere spectacles and are now largely a waste of time.

Are we to be a nation of free, self-governing people? Or are we to be a nation of vassals governed by aristocrats?

Let’s have that debate.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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8 Responses

  1. Linda E. Montrose says:

    I did NOT watch the “debate” because it was a waste of time. The “powers that be” made it so, so why fall into their trap? Just drives your blood pressure up.
    President Reagan said it best…The worst thing you can hear is I’m from the government and here to help you.
    Until the people are willing to admit that we DO have a problem and neither party is willing to really address the problem can we truly be on a road of recovery. That would mean starting with admitting human beings handling the purse strings are the root of all evil we are encountering now! They are sending money we do not have to people we should not be aiding and funding all kinds of people from all over the world to cross our borders. Ignoring the CITIZENS of the US who NEED to be helped. We are NOT the world’s piggy bank!
    Until there is a REAL debate to be held, with REAL issues for a DEBATE to be held that actually addresses the REAL issues, I will not be a part of the FARCE. It isn’t just one party at fault here or an issue that began in this time. It has silently crept in and taken over because people have closed their ears to the truth.
    The dems of today call themselves “PROGRESSIVE”, well REPUBLICAN Teddy Roosevelt was a PROGRESSIVE as well. Just thought I’d throw that in. Was the meaning the same???

  2. Mike says:

    Last nights debate WAS NOT A WASTE OF TIME, period. Last night’s debate yanked the curtain away and unmistakenly revealed the infirmed, degenerated, crippled Joe Biden; who holds the title of President of the United States in physical appearance only.
    Our President is not well physically and mentally a.k.a Hurr Report. The Left has been ad nausea building up our President as this specimen of energy, vitality, and vigor (HA! all of us who has been paying attention knew this long ago when he fell multiple times, goofed up his speeches, and read, literally, his teleprompter). Well, well, well; that darn sure is NOT the truth; is it. Last night proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Joe Biden cannot, under any current circumstance BE the President of the USA. Anyone who argues contrary to what we all witnessed is a liar or delusional. To keep this decrepit old man as the Leader of the Free World and our Country, is absolutely criminal and inhuman. What we saw last night from Joe Biden was sad, frightening, frustrating, and plain nuts to keep this guy around. Shame on Jill Biden, the Democratic Party, and all those other talking heads who are spinning a person who is going south in a hurry mentally and physically. AND Oh By The Way – Did you not see the very end of the debate after Trump had walked away and the cameras were on Jill Biden holding on to Joe as he needed help getting down a stair or two to walk over to the moderators? HOLY COW, the shuffle in his walk, he walked down the step(s) sideways with Jill holding him and another person appears from the left of the stage to assist Joe if Jill could not keep him up!

    • Jim says:

      Agree with you, Mike. While most of these debates are mind numbing, this one was historic for a couple of reasons. First, as Mike points out, the veil was lifted on Biden’s mental state and its not a pretty picture. The voter population seems generally aligned on this. This is a problem our country has rarely experienced. Second, the Dems are being outspoken about somehow orchestrating an outcome other than Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. How this unfolds is going to be very interesting. The motivation is there, in that its a forgone conclusion that the alternative for the left is 4 more years of Trump. Which raises a third reason this is historic. If the Dems are successful in taking Biden out of the picture, it’s possible that our next president is someone who didn’t participate in the first “Presidential Debate”. Frankly, if this happens and the Dems somehow field a more moderate candidate, I think this will attract many independents and Trump may have difficulty winning this election. For me, I’ll be perfectly satisfied with Biden stumbling all the way to election day.

  3. Jean Bammel says:

    My beliefs about governments are very close to yours, but you are so much better with the words required to explain your beliefs. Thanks, you for your efforts in keeping us informed.

  4. Darrell Durham says:

    The topic of discussion is the recent debate and the performance of the participants. Opinions are as varied as political persuasion. People believe what they choose to believe. Reality is a different beast entirely. Talk all you want, but I have eyes. Say what you will about Trump or Biden personally, professionally or presidentially. I know who is better to lead this country. I would like to see a debate between Hunter Biden and Eric Trump or Don, Jr.! THAT is a better indication of the abilities of Joe and Donald! Donald Trump has been a businessman, Joe has been a politician.

  5. CT Taylor says:

    Love your comments Paul, particulary your second comment. From doing a lot of reading, it was obvious that Hoover didn’t believe in it, he believed that government was the answer to the Great Depression. FDR sure didn’t believe in it and did a lot of tinkering with government money with his Neal Deal and went after those who had the means to create jobs…sounds very similar to today. One of my daddy’s favorite stories was about me when I was a young kid growing u in Valdosta Georgia. Back then, almost every house in Georgia had a picture of Christ on the wall. In Valdosta on Patterson Street, they had a restaurant called The White House. Behind their register they had a print of Elizabeth Shoumatoff’s unfished portrait of FDR. One day as Daddy was paying the bill, he said I asked, “Is that God?” I guess the unfinished part looked like clouds to me. My daddy was a teacher and diehard democrat and in his book, FDR was pretty close. On the way home, I got a sermon on how great the man was. Now when I was in my first year in the military, on my first leave I went by and visited my Aunt Vi who was a diehard Republican and active in Goldwater’s campaign in South Georgia. While there, we got to talking politics and she asked me who did I want to become president and since he had just given the military a big raise, I said Johnson. Thought she was going to have a stroke. After she got her composure, she said she had an album she wanted me to hear. It was titled “Will the Real LBJ Please Stand.” It was narrated by Ronald Reagan. Best political speech I’ve ever heard. After listening to it, I knew who I was for. It also made me start going to the library and reading all I could find on FDR and contrary to what the liberals might say, he did not get us out of the Great Depression, he prolonged it and he was far from being a great president. Suggest you Google Admiral James O. Richardson, a native of Paris Texas and what happened to him. After Thursday night’s debate, I got curious about Biden’s comment about Trump being the worst president in history and went online. I found four rankings: C-Span; CBS; Axious; and the most recent by Spectrum, which was updated in 2024 and on it Trump was #45, the worst. He didn’t fare must better in the other three. One thing that did catch my eye was FDR was #3 on the C-Span list; #2 on Axious; #1 on CBS; and #1 on Spectrum. Obviously none of these historians have ever read “The Forgotten Man” or “New Deal or Raw Deal.” As Rush would say, “Mind numb liberals.” Best quote I came across reading up on FDR was he was great politician but a lousy president. In the Spectrum ranking, Joe Biden was #14, two spots better than Ronald Reagan. Obama was #10 on C-Span; #7 on Axious; #11 on CBS; and #7 on Spectrum. After looking at all the rankings, I feel confident that every historian who did these rankings would totally disagree with your second comment and like FDR would favor the Keynesian theory.

  6. Mike says:

    “Most of all, I believe that this is the day the Lord has made, and that so far as our human limitations will allow, we should rejoice, and be glad in it.”

    That is Paul’s last comment in the 2013 article; a very, very, profound statement we all should read and remember.
    Progressives do not want us rejoicing in the Lord, or in anything other than “their” ideas and plan for all us little people.
    The World Economic Group of elitists do have a plan for us; subjugation. That is true and if you do not believe it; look it up. It is there under their manifestos. The election of Donald J. Trump would blow this up again and hopefully this time blow it up for good. We must vote for Trump and the Republican Party; whether you like them or not. But do not underestimate the power and intelligence of these evil people. Paul hit it out of the park with this article and I thank him for it. Please go back and read his 2013 article; it is timeless.

  7. Mark J Mueller says:

    I am 100% behind you, Paul. Hope to keep reading and watch your commits for years to come. Keep up the good works. Mark J. Mueller

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