U.S. Republican leaders are terribly, terribly frightened and they want the rest of America to be just as scared as they are. Nowhere is Republican fear more evident, than in the party’s unwillingness to offer support for Syrian refugees escaping the sectarian violence that has forced them from their homes. While Barack Obama, and all three of the Democratic presidential candidates have asserted that we can fight terrorism and provide safety for Syrian refugees, the Republicans are too afraid to help.
In an international crisis that demands complex decision making and mature leadership, all the Republican candidates offer are incredibly vague chest thumping cries for bloodthirsty revenge and a fearful “Not in my back yard (NIMBY)” approach to refugee immigration.
Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio are demanding that we seal our borders and deny all Syrian refugees. Ben Carson and Donald Trump feel the same way. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are open to letting a few refugees trickle in, just so long as they prove they are good Christians.
At least eleven Republican Governors have jumped onto the fear bandwagon and want to block Syrian immigrants from settling in their states. Unfortunately, that number will probably continue to grow.
The GOP candidates’ immature responses to the Paris attacks stretch to foreign policy as well. Mike Huckabee wants to revoke our nuclear agreement with Iran, begging the question of whether he even understands that the Iranian regime is a bitter enemy to ISIS.
Senator Cruz demands that we increase our tolerance for inflicting civilian casualties, because nothing says murdering innocent people is wrong, more clearly than killing yet more innocent people. Donald Trump’s policy is no more sophisticated than we should “bomb the s**t out of them”, while Mike Huckabee apparently supports the slightly less profane alternative of bombing “the absolute stink out of them”.
The problem for the Republicans is that difficult times call for real leadership, not just a toxic, but impotent mix of fear and bluster. If all the GOP can offer is caving to fear, and promising to be mighty, mighty tough without providing specifics on what tough actually means, then voters should look elsewhere. It takes more than pushing panicked proposals and screaming fevered pitches for dropping more bombs, to lead a nation.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.