Forget partisan differences and elect candidates with realistic views

At a time when the Tea Party has redefined compromise as capitulation and Rick Perry (governor of Texas) and Michele Bachmann (Minnesota House Representative) are the faces of the Republican Party, running for the presidential nomination on a platform of rational thought seems like a losing strategy.

The presidential primaries and caucuses do not take place until 2012, yet most of the Republican field is already racing to the far-right fringe. Secure in their ignorance, these radical Republicans are not afraid to sacrifice reality to appeal to an extremist base.

For that reason, it is refreshing to see a few Republican presidential candidates running on facts and logic. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has marketed himself as the moderate of the field, taking atypical positions such as support for evolution and belief in global warming. While by no means a moderate, Representative Ron Paul (R–Texas) also shows signs of clarity and reason. In the debate before this month’s Ames, Iowa, straw poll, Paul accurately rejected the idea that the United States Constitution puts the same limits on states as it does on the federal government while simultaneously criticizing President Obama’s health care mandate.

This willingness to accept reality puts Paul and Huntsman in an entirely separate category from candidates such as Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum — not to mention one of the debate panelists, Fox News’ Chris Wallace — who either misinterpreted or ignored the Constitution.

Contrasting Huntsman’s and Perry’s public statements neatly summarizes those two candidates. While Huntsman tweets, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Perry tells a child about evolution, “That’s a theory that is out there — and it’s got some gaps in it.” Unfortunately for the nation as a whole, running on the far edge of the political spectrum tends to be a winning strategy for primary races. Only the most dedicated and energized voters turn out for primary elections, leaving the middle ground empty.

This summer’s debt limit fiasco showed that politicians elected for their refusal to compromise or listen to reason are not afraid to put the well-being of the United States at risk. Republican voters should listen to their candidates’ views, but they should also consider whether these views are realistic.