Floridians had the chance to learn more about the state’s future leaders earlier this week when the U.S. senatorial and gubernatorial debates were held at USF’s Theatre 1.
Aside from protesters, supporters and an intense political environment, the debates offered Senate hopefuls Marco Rubio (R), Kendrick Meek (D) and Charlie Crist (I), as well as gubernatorial candidates Alex Sink (D) and Rick Scott (R), the opportunity to present their ideas and concerns about their opponents’ plans.
While the debates brought positive attention to USF and next week’s elections, the candidates’ discourse featured little more than the repetition of their ideological stances.
As the debates revealed, to be an informed voter, one must weigh not only the candidates’ potential abilities, but also the value of the ideological convictions they hold.
Ideologies act as a guiding force, explaining perceived causes and solutions to society’s ills, as well as final goals that should be worked toward. These theories are subjective and cannot be factually proven right or wrong.
In the debates, Rubio, Scott and the self-proclaimed “fiscal conservative” Crist, a former Republican until changing parties after dropping in the primary polls, displayed their conservative ideology as they passionately argued in favor of lower taxes for all, especially the top 2 percent of income earners, who are facing expiring tax cuts. Like most Republicans, they feel more industry and jobs would be created via the “trickle down theory.”
Meanwhile, Sink and Meek focused less on reducing taxes for higher earners, with Meek openly saying the state “can’t just have tax cuts for everyone,” and Sink arguing only for tax cuts for businesses that don’t ship jobs overseas.
On immigration, Scott and Rubio stuck to the Republican doctrine that opposes amnesty and favors Arizona’s immigration law that requires police to question the immigration status of those they suspect of being in the country illegally.
Like most Democrats, Sink and Meek disagreed and rejected Arizona’s law, with Sink calling for regulation of employers and Meek arguing in favor of “a comprehensive plan.”
Crist was near the ideological middle on the issue, and he contends he is pro-choice on abortion.
The other politicians’ stances were similar to their parties on issues like abortion, size of government and the war in Afghanistan.
Despite the new candidates, the upcoming November elections are like picking your own medicine, but there are three different doctors giving you three different causes and offering three different remedies.
These medicines are conservatism, liberalism and, in Crist’s case, a political hybrid of the two.
To vote in this election, voters will be forced to understand, and decide, which ideology works best for them, as candidates have decided that providing in-depth details of how they would fix a damaged state is too much to ask.