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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Presidents don’t punt 

Less than four months have passed since the 2014 midterm elections, and pundits and politicians from both sides of the aisle are gearing up for their next shot at the White House. Each party has to pick new nominees, but the eventual Republican nominee appears to have a much trickier primary season in store for him or her.

The New York Times lists 12 Republicans who are “expected to run,” although even this may be a low estimate. Already, many of these candidates have begun campaigning in Iowa, the first primary state, speaking at various conservative summits and assembling important campaign staffers.

In the midst of this chaotic political maneuvering, the mainstream media has made a habit out of presuming new frontrunners nearly every week. This candidate, or potential candidate, enjoys the spotlight for a few days, inevitably makes some sort of political faux pas, and then quickly resumes his place in the middle of the pack.

After an impressive speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January, the most recent Republican flavor of the month is none other than Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Unfortunately for Walker, as he has begun to find out over the last few weeks, once someone becomes the frontrunner, everything he says or does is treated with far more scrutiny. As a result of this spotlight, many have begun to pick up on Walker’s shifty tactic of not answering questions.

Most recently, Walker declined to discuss his foreign policy ideas on the Islamic State, to say whether or not President Barack Obama loves the U.S. and to state his beliefs on evolution. On a recent credential-boosting trip to England, the governor was asked about evolution and chose to answer with, “I’m going to have to punt on that one.” When asked later for clarification, Walker replied, “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other.”

Unfortunately for Walker, many people disagree.

“Politicians are more focused on winning the next election than representing their constituents,” said Joseline Mata, president of the UA Young Democrats. “If America wants to move forward as a world leader, we need people like Scott Walker to be willing to answer questions and fight for their beliefs even when it’s not convenient.”

Many political commentators, particularly the left-leaning ones, have been quick to pounce on Walker’s nonanswers.

Walker has the constitutional freedom to answer or not answer any question he would like, but anyone running for president should be prepared to answer something as basic as their views on evolution. The people of the U.S. have a right to know if the potentially most powerful person in the world accepts the scientific method, or allows radical wings of the political spectrum to dictate crucial components of government appropriations including government research, foreign policy and scientific standards.

This is not aimed at people of faith or those who do not believe in evolution, but anyone running for the president of the U.S. has to be willing to answer this question and many others so that voters can make informed decisions about who they want in charge of this country.

What may be making the answers to these seemingly noncontroversial questions so difficult for many Republican candidates is the right-wing extremity of their own base. Moderate positions that will be much more favorable in a general election could torpedo any Republican’s hopes of attaining the GOP nomination.

Evolution, for example, clearly demonstrates this predicament for Republican candidates. According to a Pew Research Center study, 60 percent of Americans believe humans have evolved over time, while only 43 percent of Republicans holds this view. In fact 48 percent of Republicans believe humans have existed in present form since the beginning of time. This disconnect between what the far right, including the tea party, want from a candidate and what the rest of America wants from a president has left many Republican candidates in this incredibly difficult balancing act, will probably end up leading to a lot more “punting” on important questions.


Jacob Winkelman is a sophomore studying political science and English. Follow him on Twitter.

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